Warriors survive wild finish
EVERETT — Macen Akers has made plays all year long for the Everett Warriors.
Saturday night’s District 5 Class 2A semifinal against Meyersdale proved to be no different as the senior scored three touchdowns and came up with two interceptions on defense.
As impressive as all of that was, Akers saved his best for last with a victory-saving, game-ending tackle when he raced all the way across the field to bring down Meyersdale’s John Harvey 4 yards shy of the end zone to put the Warriors into the championship game with a 20-13 win over the Red Raiders at Everett Warrior Stadium.
“I honestly didn’t know how close he (Harvey) was to the end zone, but I was closing in on him — I saw he was getting tired. I saw his head was jerking back and forth, and he was just getting tired,” Akers said. “Once I saw I was within reaching distance, I knew there was no way he was getting out of my arms and getting those last few yards.”
“Actually, I wasn’t sure that the time was out. So, I looked up and then I saw the zeros on the clock and I was like, ‘This is it. This is what we worked for.'”
After Akers scored on a quarterback keeper with 28 ticks remaining in the game, the Red Raiders took over with just 22 seconds to work with.
Mahlon Reese’s first two passes fell incomplete and then on third down, lightning almost struck as the junior found Harvey open around the right-side numbers. In order to avoid being tackled, the sophomore had to dodge defenders while moving across the field.
“I told our quarterback to deliver it to them (receiver) where they can make the play,” Meyersdale coach Ryan Donaldson said. “That’s exactly what he did, and John did a heck of a job getting down to this point.”
“But, as I was following him down the sideline, out of the corner of my eye here comes No. 15 (Akers) — the guy that had one very good game. Hats off to him for making that play because I think if he wasn’t in position, we were at least going to have the opportunity to tie this game.”
However, once Harvey finally got into open space and it appeared he would give his team a chance to tie the contest, Akers caught up to him and was able to bring him down 4 yards short of the goal line with no time remaining on the clock.
“If it was going to happen to Everett, it would have happened,” Everett coach Winston Redman said of Harvey’s near touchdown. “We work on breakdown drills, and they all broke down. So, it forced him (Harvey) enough to go lateral, and then Macen, with his speed, was able to, thank God, run him down.”
While Akers finished with 180 yards rushing, he hardly had to do it himself as Quinton Spade churned out 86 yards and Cameron Mellott ran for 59 behind an offensive line that began to assert itself up front in the second half — leading the way for 214 rushing yards in the final two quarters and 329 for the game.
The two teams entered halftime knotted up at 7-7 as the Red Raiders got on the board first when Devin Kretchman scored from 6 yards out at 11:56 of the second quarter.
Everett had a chance to respond as they reeled off a 14-play drive that ended when Akers fumbled the ball that was recovered by Meyersdale’s Riley Whitfield. Akers made up for it though as he found room from 12 yards away with just 1:42 left.
After a scoreless third stanza, Reese called his own number from 2 yards out to put Meyersdale back in front .
Akers capped off a seven-play drive by leaping over two players at the 10-yard line and then racing the final distance.
“It was one of those nights where it was ugly, we made mistakes, and in years past — they would have costs us big time,” Redman said. “… I know the kids had resilience and they would continue to play regardless that we made mistakes … They just kept battling back and we got some breaks to go our way.”
Everett improved to 8-3 and will meet up with Chestnut Ridge on a day, at a time and site to be determined. Meyersdale ended its season at 5-6.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Meyersdale 0 7 0 6 — 13
Everett 0 7 0 13 — 20
M–Kretchman 6 run (Blubaugh kick), 11:56.
E–Mac. Akers 12 run (Bulger kick), 1:42.
M–Reese 2 run (kick failed), 9:53.
E–Mac. Akers 9 run (pass failed), 2:09.
E–Mac. Akers 12 run (Bulger kick), 0:28.
TEAM STATISTICS M E
First downs 8 23
Total yards 214 370
Rushes-yards 30-72 51-329
Yards passing 142 41
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 7-18-3 5-14-1
Punts-avg. 6-31.5 2-33.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 4-4
Penalties-yards 3-30 9-49
RUSHING–Meyersdale, Moody 3-3, Harvey 1-9, Kretchman 17-68, Eberly 4-2. Reese 3-(-2), Fisher 1-(-3), Ludwick 1-(-5). Everett, Mac. Akers 21-180, Spade 13-86, Mellott 13-59, Iseminger 4-4.
PASSING–Meyersdale, Reese 7-18-3-142. Everett, Mac. Akers 5-14-1-41.
RECEIVING–Meyersdale, Harvey 2-72, Eberly 1-23, Fisher 2-30, Kretchman 2-17. Everett, Spade 2-29, Mills 1-0, Mellott 1-13, Iseminger 1-(-1).