MOUNT UNION - Because of a knee injury, it was unknown whether or not Forest Hills' Joe Donoughe could play Friday night against Mount Union in the first round of the District 6 Class AA playoffs.
"He didn't even practice until Thursday for the first time," Forest Hills coach Don Bailey said.
Donoughe did start at quarterback, but he did not start at safety, and in fact, he didn't play any defense until the fourth quarter, when he entered the game with 2:28 to go and his team leading, 14-13.
Fans of the Rangers were glad he did. Mount Union fans ... not so much.
With Mount Union on the Rangers' 9 on a first-and-goal with 1:20 to go in the game, Donoughe intercepted a Trevon Walker pass in the end zone to preserve a 14-13 victory, knocking off the No. 2-seeded Trojans in the process.
"We had our shots, we had our chances," Mount Union coach Dayton Shugarts said. "I knew the team that made the fewest mistakes would win. We made more mistakes, but even up until that last interception in the end zone ... I thought we were going to push it in and go up on them."
Forest Hills, the No. 7 seed, recovered a Mount Union fumble - its fourth of the game - at the 7:03 mark of the fourth quarter. With the ball at the Mount Union 48, the Rangers (7-4) tried to put the game away with a time-consuming drive that took almost 5 minutes off the clock.
However, Mount Union (9-2) stopped the Rangers on fourth-and-4 from the 21, and took over at the 2:28 mark with just one timeout left.
Walker, a junior, then used his arm and legs to get Mount Union all the way down to the 9-yard line. Those seven plays were also the first plays Donoughe got in on defense.
"We have had so many injuries ... we lost two starters in the first half," said Bailey, whose defense was the benefactor of six total turnovers. "We were missing No. 13 [Donoughe] because of his knee, but we stuck him in there at the end and he made a play."
Walker, who rushed for 86 yards on 11 carries while completing 11 passes for 124 yards, was picked off twice.
"I was just playing cover three because they had trips to the left and I had a third of the field," Donoughe said. "I saw the receiver do a comeback and then I saw their quarterback get ready to throw it that way. I tried to jump it and thank God I got there in time."
Forest Hills scored its two touchdowns in the second quarter and led, 14-0, at halftime. A Mount Union fumble led to the Rangers' first score, a 35-yard touchdown pass from Donoughe to Dustin Ohler at the 2:47 mark. The PAT kick sailed left.
After another Mount Union fumble, the Rangers scored again, this time on a 60-yard pass from Donoughe to Quinn DiFlaurio at the 2:00 mark. Ohler caught a 2-point pass from Donoughe to make it 14-0.
"We have never had a game like that. I don't know, maybe it was nerves," Shugarts said. "You try to get your team hyped up during the week, but maybe we were over-hyped. The mistakes really hurt us."
A bad punt snap in the third quarter gave Mount Union life as the Trojans had to go just 40 yards for their first score, an 18-yard run by B.J. Loner at the 9:07 mark. Austin Low's PAT kick made it 14-7. The Trojans scored their second touchdown at the 7:40 mark of the third when Walker tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Devon Kylor.
However, Ian Wieczorek barreled through the middle and blocked the PAT kick at the 7:40 mark, leaving the score at 14-13.
"I don't know if he blocked one before, but I know he blocked that one for us tonight," Bailey laughed. "Just a real great effort."
Forest Hills will travel to play the winner of the Central-Central Cambria game next week in the semifinals.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Forest Hills0 14 0 0 - 14
Mount Union0 0 7 6 - 13
FH-Ohler 35 pass from Donoughe (kick failed), 2:47
FH-DiFlaurio 60 pass from Donoughe (Ohler pass from Donoughe), 2:00
MU-Loner 18 run (Low kick), 9:07
MU-Kylor 3 pass from Walker (kick failed), 7:40
RUSHING: Forest Hills-Blough 14-38, Wieczorek 4-12, Donoughe 4-15, Ohler 11-48, Krug 2-13, Shima 1-3, TEAM 4-(-24). Mount Union-Smith 14-82, Stapleton 1-0, Walker 11-86, Loner 6-26.
PASSING: Forest Hills-Donoughe 8-19-1-177. Mount Union-Walker 11-22-2-124.
RECEIVING: Forest Hills-Blough 2-15, Madison 1-6, Wieczorek 2-23, Ohler 2-73, DiFlaurio 1-60. Mount Union-Loner 2-47, Smith 1-5, Heffner 4-27, Kylor 3-26, Goodrich 1-19.
INTERCEPTIONS: Forest Hills-Ohler, Donoughe. Mount Union-House.