Northern stunned in opener
LOYSBURG – It looked like the Northern Bedford County High School football team might be on the path to a District 5 Class A championship.
Instead, it was a trail of tears, as five seniors played their last games as Black Panthers, derailed before they really got going.
Shade ran the ball well throughout and kept Blake Over and NBC’s high-flying offense in check long enough to build a 20-point cushion en route to shocking the second seeds 42-36 on Friday night at a brisk Panther Community Stadium.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world, I can’t even explain it, just knowing I won’t be able to play with those guys again,” said a teary-eyed Over, who threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the season-ender while also returning the game’s opening kickoff 82 yards for a score.
Northern Bedford wrapped up an 8-3 campaign.
It was Shade’s first-ever district playoff win and the program’s first postseason victory since the early 1980s.
In fact, the visiting Panthers hadn’t scored in a playoff contest since 1986, but they got that out of their system with 30 first-half points, including three first-half touchdowns by fullback Tyler Kline. Kline rushed for 71 yards on 18 carries, while halfback Logan Glessner rambled for 175 yards on 16 attempts, scoring once in each half.
Shade wound up with 322 yards on the ground.
“I thought they went hand in hand,” Shade coach Don Fyfe said of Shade’s running offense and pass defense. “We controlled the clock with our running game. Tyler Kline did a great job running between the tackles. We thought we had the athletes to match up. Teams that are big give us problems. But teams that are athletic I thought we matched up pretty well with them. We manned up and played two safeties deep.”
Shade held Over to 3-of-9 passing in the first half for 59 yards and a 47-yard touchdown strike to Kyler Diehl.
Shade improved to 6-5 and earned a semifinal date with third-ranked Tussey Mountain next Saturday night. A former star quarterback at Northern Bedford’s rival, Chestnut Ridge, Fyfe was understandably overjoyed with the win.
“They’re pretty close,” Fyfe said when asked if it felt better to lead a team to its first playoff win in almost 30 years or to knock off his former rival. “These guys played great all night. I asked them before the game, ‘Can we please put one whole game together?’ We’ve always done the what-if-we-played-like-we-played-the-second-quarter. Tonight we played a whole game. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
Despite all Shade’s impressive rushing numbers, Northern Bedford actually led 22-16 and seemed to have all the momentum on its side when it took over near midfield after a punt.
However, Over was hit during a handoff and Kline recovered at the NB 46. That set up a 10-play, 5-minute, 37-second drive that culminated on a 1-yard run by Glessner to put Shade ahead. Then, Shade recovered a muffed onside kick at the Black Panther 46, and, following a 27-yard run by Glessner, Kline plowed in from the 2 to make it 30-22.
Shade broke up Over’s pass in the end zone on the final play of the first half, then cashed in on the opening possession of the second quarter when Nash Walker pump-faked and scrambled 23 yards for a score on third-and-16.
“We were in control of the game at that point,” Northern Bedford coach Jeff Batzel said of the situation before the turnovers. “The way our offense was clicking at that point, I was very confident we were going to score.”
Northern started strong with Over’s 82-yard kickoff return and finished strong as Over hit Jacob Dasher for TD passes of 39 and 50 yards in the final 8:57. The Black Panthers, though, never got the ball back on offense after their last score, not having enough time to do anything with a Shade punt with 6 seconds left.
Over finished a remarkable season with a school-record 2,613 yards and 30 touchdowns. Dasher set a Black Panther record with 64 catches, too; he and Diehl both finished with more than 100 yards receiving.
“He had an absolutely phenomenal season. The kind of season we haven’t seen in this area for a long, long time,” Batzel said of Over. “He was just a magical football player for us. The things he did on the field will be legendary.”
Batzel lauded the Black Panthers for finishing 8-3 despite graduating 17 starters from last season’s 9-2 squad.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I’ve seen,” Over said. “The seniors pushed the underclassmen, and they stepped up. They stepped up all year.”
“To win eight games was a tremendous accomplishment,” Batzel said. “Everyone knows you’re 0-0 heading into the playoffs, and anybody can beat anyone else on any given night. This was a good Shade team, and they got it done.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Shade16 14 6 6 – 42
Northern Bedford14 8 0 14 – 36
NB-Over 82 kickoff return (Bequeath kick), 11:47.
S-Kline 10 run (Kline run), 6:07.
NB-Diehl 47 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), 5:10.
S-Glessner 1 run (Kline run), 2:01.
NB-Brallier 11 run (Snyder pass from Over), 10:37.
S-Kline 1 run (Napora run), 2:32.
S-Kline 2 run (run failed), 0:32.
S-Walker 23 run (run failed), 9:08.
S-Glessner 55 run (run failed), 10:12.
NB-Dasher 39 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), 8:57.
NB-Dasher 50 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), 2:09.
RUSHING: Shade- Glessner 16-175, Kline 18-71, Napora 7-27, Walker 14-49. Northern Bedford-Over 10-49, Brallier 4-22, Heck 5-14, Hershberger 1-3, Dasher 1-2.
PASSING: Shade-Walker 2-4-0-54. Northern Bedford-Over 14-26-1-212.
RECEIVING: Shade-Kline 2-54. Northern Bedford-Diehl 6-111, Dasher 5-122, Heck 2-9, Snyder 1-9.
INTERCEPTIONS: Shade-Reynolds. Northern Bedford-none.