CLAYSBURG - Before Claysburg-Kimmel's Nic Fickes played his final game at Bulldog Stadium on a chilly Friday night, he cried tears of sadness.
Afterward, he shed tears of joy.
With Fickes and his fellow C-K seniors serving as inspiration, Logan Johnson ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns, Conner Brown tacked on 131 yards and a score, and that was just enough for the Bulldogs to overcome mistake-plagued Everett 25-22 in an Inter-County Conference interdivisional contest.
"This feels great," said Fickes, who was a lead blocker for much of the 357 yards Claysburg rolled up on the ground and reached the end zone on a 4-yard run early in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the game-winning score. "It feels terrible knowing it's coming to an end, but there's no better way to go out at home in front of the home crowd on senior night."
It was just Claysburg's third win in nine starts. As the team gathered around Bulldog coach Gabe Walter following the final horn, Fickes sat on the ground and exclaimed to no one in particular "Finally. It's about time."
"It's important to win on senior night," Walter said. "I think this is a good lift going into our last game [at Southern Huntingdon next Friday]."
Everett looked like a solid favorite coming in with a 4-4 record and apparently heading to the District 5 Class AA playoffs regardless of whether or not it wins next week.
The Warriors, though, were their own worst enemy much of the night. Everett dug itself a 13-0 hole before coming back to briefly take the lead, turned the ball over four times, fumbled five times and committed three delay of game penalties. Twice the Warriors had the ball inside the Bulldog 10 and didn't come away with points.
Still, it wasn't until Trevon Ward's desperation fourth-down pass with 26.2 seconds left came up incomplete near midfield that the Warriors were out of it.
"Too many turnovers. Our kids fought like heck," Everett coach Mark Kirk said. "We were just out of sync. If you put the ball on the ground five times, you're not going to win a game. I take my hat off to Claysburg. The did exactly what we thought they'd do."
That was run to the perimeter. Johnson was nailed on his first three carries for 3 yards by Everett's huge interior linemen before Walter began to run him around the edge. C-K's junior tailback had 103 yards by halftime on 12 rushes and finished with a career high.
"We just did what worked," Johnson, who carried the ball 24 times, said. "We wanted to do it for the seniors. I thought we put a pretty good show on."
One of 16 Bulldog seniors playing their final home game, Brown ran for 95 yards in the second half on 11 of his 19 total rushes. After most of the players and fans had filed away, he was seated near midfield, apparently lost in thought or just drained.
"Our line just blocked really well. Everett is really good. They have a lot of big guys," Brown said.
After Everett scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions of the second half, Claysburg came right back with a 69-yard drive on five run plays. Brown highlighted it with a 55-yard scamper, and Johnson scored from the 6. The Bulldogs didn't trail again.
"That's just tenacity. That's what this team is built on," Fickes said. "I know the scores don't show it, but we always fight to the end. That's something we pride ourselves on."
Game notes: Everett hosts Central next Friday in its regular season finale. ... Everett's Kyle Sheaffer rushed for 92 yards on just five carries, scoring on a 53-yard run. ... The teams were a combined 2-for-11 passing in the first half. Ward, though, finished 10-of-19 for 81 yards.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Everett0 0 14 8 - 22
Claysburg-Kimmel7 6 6 6 - 25
CK-Johnson 8 run (Fickes kick), 0:44.1.
CK-Brown 5 run (kick failed), 4:39.
E-Sheaffer 53 run (kick failed), 9:53.
E-Ward 3 run (Sheaffer pass from Ward), 3:31.
CK-Johnson 6 run (run failed), 0:50.0.
CK-Fickes 4 run (kick failed), 9:11.
E-Jay 9 run (Ward run), 4:01.
RUSHING: Everett-Sheaffer 5-92, Jay 11-48, Steed 8-47, Ward 8-39, Bulger 2-(-23). Claysburg-Kimmel-Johnson 24-195, Brown 19-131, Fickes 8-31, Cerully 1-1, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING: Everett-Ward 10-19-1-81, TEAM 0-1-0-0. Claysburg-Kimmel-Brown 1-8-0-29, TEAM 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Everett-Jay 4-44, Donelson 3-26, Sheaffer 3-11. Claysburg-Kimmel-Cerully 1-29.
INTERCEPTIONS: Everett-none. Claysburg-Kimmel-Cerully.