THREE SPRINGS - In a season filled with injuries, including running back Alex Pant's broken neck, Rodale's Weyandt's bad asthma attack and tough losses, Claysburg-Kimmel needed to end on a high note.
That's exactly how the Bulldogs ended the 2013 season.
Sparked by a 15-play scoring drive to open Friday's senior night game at Southern Huntingdon and saved by a strong defensive effort that included five turnovers, the Bulldogs held off the Rockets, 14-7.
"It feels great," C-K first-year coach Gabe Walter said after his team finished 4-6. "This is the way we wanted to send out our seniors. Southern wanted this game bad, and we managed to stay on top. I'm proud of these guys."
C-K's 15-play drive covered 55 yards and included first down conversions on fourth-and-7 (quarterback Connor Brown's 7-yard run) and fourth-and-9 (Logan Johnson's 11-yard run on an end around).
Brown, who led C-K in rushing with 90 yards on 17 carries, finished off the march with a 7-yard run into the end zone with 4:04 left in the first quarter. Nic Fickes kicked the first of his two PATs to make the score 7-0.
"I love a drive that takes an entire quarter," Walter said. "That's kind of what we're built on. We're not a flashy team. We grind it out, and we do what works."
"That was agonizing," Southern coach Ryan Garlock said. "We had them on a couple long fourth downs, thought we had them stopped and they would get a first down."
The Bulldogs recovered a fumble by Southern quarterback Nick Carowick at the SH 43 in the second quarter. Brown scampered 29 yards to the 10 on the second play, and Evan Imgrund finished it off on the next play with a touchdown run.
The Rockets (1-9) went on a 13-play drive that included a fake punt conversion at the end of the second quarter, but time ran out in the first half with C-K holding a 14-0 lead.
For the second half, Garlock shifted Tyler Carowick from tailback to QB and junior Storm Vaughn, who normally starts but sat out the first half because of a disciplinary reason, became the tailback.
That move instantly paid off as Vaughn scooted 56 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half. And then Southern's Lukas Whitsel intercepted Brown on C-K's first play.
"We came out and hit a big play and scored," Garlock said. "It gave us a little momentum. Momentum is a big thing, and it got us fired up."
"They got around our end," Walter said. "I don't know if it had anything to do with personnel."
The Rockets marched from their 36 to the C-K 11 on eight plays, but a Southern holding call, a personal foul and a sack of Tyler Carowick ended the drive.
Southern made a defensive stand of its own with 2:01 left when Brown gained 3 yards on fourth-and-4, and the Rockets went from their 21 to the C-K 30, with the last 15 coming on a helmet-to-helmet personal foul call.
The C-K defense, however, rose up. After an incomplete pass, senior Sam Weyandt sacked Carowick for a 10-yard loss. Carowick spiked the ball with 7 seconds left, and Brown picked him off for the second time in the fourth quarter to end the game.
"I always tell these guys 'When you get into a fight, you have to pull together, and you have to continue to believe,'" said Walter, who was doused with water right after his postgame interview. "That's what they did on defense.
"These guys are very special to me. I got to coach these guys in junior high, so they're a special group, and I hope they know that."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel7 7 0 0 - 14
Southern Huntingdon0 0 7 0 - 7
CK-Brown 7 run (Fickes kick), 4:04.
CK-Imgrund 10 run (Fickes kick), 9:41.
SH-Vaughn 56 run (Cornelius kick), 11:42.
RUSHING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Brown 17-90, Johnson 19-79, Fickes 3-11, Imgrund 3-7. Southern Huntingdon-Vaughn 10-90, T. Carowick 21-59, Simerson 4-28, Woodward 1-(-2), N. Carowick 2-(-11).
PASSING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Brown 0-5-2-0. Southern Huntingdon-T. Carowick 5-9-2-48, N. Carowick 3-4-1-15, TEAM 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING: Claysburg-Kimmel-none. Southern Huntingdon-Cornelius 1-20, Woodward 2-14, Vaughn 1-13, Locke 1-8, Simerson 3-8.
INTERCEPTIONS: Claysburg-Kimmel-Brown 2, Cerully. Southern Huntingdon-Jones, Whitsel.