HOLLIDAYSBURG - In a game that featured more than 100 plays on offense, it was four that will be remembered the most in Hollidaysburg's heart-breaking 22-17 loss to Knoch on Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
"That is what great football games are made of," said Knoch coach Mike King, whose club stopped the Tigers four times from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter with a little more than 4:06 to go in the game.
"I told our guys it should have never come down to that. We just made so many mistakes," Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said.
Trailing 22-17, Hollidaysburg used a 27-yard kickoff return by Dan Baker to set up shop at its own 42. During a 16-play drive, on third-and-10, Tiger quarterback Caleb Parnell escaped an incredible rush by the Knights to heave a pass down the left sideline which fell incomplete. However, Knoch was called for pass interference, giving Hollidaysburg a first down.
Behind the running of Jericho Hilling, Tyler Miller and Parnell, Hollidaysburg advanced to the 1-yard line. Four straight runs, three to Hilling and one to Reid Miller, were stopped by the Knoch defense.
"You've got to get in the end zone. When you're at the goal line, you've got to get in. In practice we ran three inside cones this week and you move the ball from the 3 to the 2 to the 1," DeLattre said. "I think it was more of an effort issue. They wanted it more than us."
King felt his defensive staff had his unit prepped for a goal-line stand.
"Our coaches do a great job of knowing the team and their formation. We had a bead on them. Our kids were comfortable with what was going on," he said.
Hollidaysburg (1-3) led 17-7 at the break, thanks to a 17-point second quarter. Parnell scored on a 63-yard run up the middle in which he faked a handoff and kept the ball.
"That was a read by him. He made a nice read. He's run that far before," DeLattre said.
A Knoch fumble led to the Tigers next score as Eric Miller booted a 36-yard field goal with 9:28 to play in the half for a 10-7 lead. Another Knoch turnover led to more points for the Tigers. A fumble with 1:08 to go in the game gave the Tigers a first-and-goal from the 6. Reid Miller took it in from 6 yards out for a 17-7 halftime score.
The game changed in the third quarter for Knoch. On a third-and-11 play from the 42, a Parnell pass skipped off the hands of a Tiger receiver and into the hands of Knights' defensive back Cody Milson, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-14.
"When we make mistakes sometimes, we make big mistakes," DeLattre said. "We have run that play successfully this season and there is no way the other team should get seven points off that. That is as basic a pass play as we have."
Knock's defense made another play when it got a safety. Reid Miller was tackled in the end zone on a first-and-10 play from the Tigers' 4, making it 17-16 at the 6:23 mark.
The next points weren't produced until the 10:17 mark of the fourth when Milson scored from 5 yards out for a 22-17 lead. A two-point pass attempt failed, but King still felt pretty good about his club at that point. He spent the night watching Milson rush for 114 yards on 33 carries.
"He gets the pick six, which was a momentum changer, and then he has to shoulder the responsibility back there, but when you're a tailback, you have to be ready for that, and he can handle it. He's a tough kid," the coach said.
Knoch (3-1) had to stop the Tigers one final time when it punted the ball with 2:26 to play in the game. However, one sack and three incomplete passes later, the Tigers were done while the Knights were able to line up in the victory formation.
"You've got to want it more. You've got to have it internally in you to get them off the ball down there and get into the end zone and we didn't do that," DeLattre said.
"Our defense rose to the occasion," King added. "That shows character. That shows that our kids were not going to quit. I was so proud of the way they played at the end.
Game notes: Hollidaysburg is at Derry next Friday night. ... Hollidaysburg's 2013 alumni football team was introduced at halftime. They were Pat McClain, Glen Smith, Terry Ulery, Chris Tatar, Pete Duncan, Dennis Montrella, Ray Malone, Denny O'Connor, Joe Richards, Nick Sefchok and Thad Maugle.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Knoch0 7 9 6 - 22
Hollidaysburg0 17 0 0 - 17
H-Milson 6 run, 11:55 (Tupper kick)
H-Parnell 63 run, 11:23 (E. Miller kick)
H-E. Miller 36 FG, 9:28
H-R. Miller 6 run, :54 (E. Miller kick)
K-Milson 42 int. return, 11:07 (Tupper kick)
K-Safety, R. Miller tackled in end zone, 6:23
K-Milson 5 run, 10:17 (pass failed)
RUSHING: Knoch-Milson 33-114, Farinelli 4-(-7), Lowery 3-5, TEAM 3-(-11). Hollidaysburg-Parnell 10-79, Hilling 7-20, Ruggery 5-14, Dinges 2-6, T. Miller 2-6, R. Miller 7-3, TEAM 1-(-4).
PASSING: Knoch-Farinelli 11-24-0-120. Hollidaysburg-Parnell 6-22-1-66, Adams 1-2-0-13.
RECEIVING: Knoch-Adams 2-41, Albert 1-7, Larimer 2-12, McTighe 1-11, Godlewski 2-20, Daugherty 1-15, Milson 2-14. Hollidaysburg-Walt 4-48, Hiott 1-11, Ruggery 1-15, Baker 1-5.