Hollywood Ending Brings Erie District 10 Championship
Written by: Dylan Matz on Sunday, November 5th, 2017
Jason Williams has been through a lot during his four years of playing football under coach Rob Matz. The senior standout has been a starter during those four years under Matz, three as a Central Tech Falcon and this year as a Royal, and made the biggest play of his career Friday night at Veterans stadium.
With four-seconds on the clock, Williams rumbled into the end zone from three yards out, the touchdown tied the game at 34 and set Erie up for the victory. After nailing the extra point, Erie walked away with their first ever district 10 title in their first season.
Props must be given to the McDowell Trojans. They battled with the Royals for 48 minutes. The Trojans chose to receive after winning the coin toss. Quarterback Regan Schleicher and running back Xavier Pulliam led the Trojans on an 80 yard scoring drive, capped off by a Schleicher touchdown on a QB sneak from the 1 yard line.
The Royals responded with a touchdown drive of their own. The Royals potent single wing attack allowed them to string together some nice runs, and 1000 yard rusher Tony Foster scored from four yards out to tie things up at 7.
McDowell was looking to put together another nice drive, but Schleicher was intercepted by Erie defensive back Trevon Tate. The interception shifted the momentum and sophomore Danny Blue went to work on the ground. Blue broke a few big runs and scored from 7 yards out to give Erie their first lead of the night 14-7.
McDowell and Erie exchanged scores to make give Erie a 20-14 lead before Schleicher connected to Nate Davidson on a 44 yard touchdown strike before the end of the second quarter. Davidson caught a hitch and broke a few tackles on his way to the house. The score point McDowell on top 21-20 at halftime.
Erie would get the ball to start the 3rd quarter but had trouble putting together a drive. Injuries to running backs JaGannon Willliams and Danny Blue forced the Royals to mix it up and rely heavily on quarterback Jason Williams and running back Tony Foster. Williams played the second half with a broken hand.
The Trojans took over and quickly went to work. Schleicher connected with Matt Whipple on a 30 yard strike to give the Trojans an 8 point lead (28-20). The Trojans needed a stop and almost had it on the next drive, Erie faced fourth and long from Mcdowells 25 yard line, Jason Williams faked the ball to Tony Foster and booted to the left hand side. Facing a large amount of pressure Williams so how got off a pass across his body and connected with Marquelle Goodwine on a dramatic, 25 yard touchdown pass.
A major play came after the touchdown. Down 28 to 26, the Royals needed a two point conversion and coach Rob Matz didn’t have to think twice before calling Williams number. The senior pounded the ball inside, running over Trojan defenders in his path to tie the game at 28.
With the drama running high, the Trojans struck once again right before the end of the third quarter. On a zone-read play Schleicher got the Erie defensive end to bite hard and took the fake around the left side for a 35 yard touchdown run. On the ensuing extra point a bad snap led to McDowell kicker Josh Mulvin missing, giving McDowell just a 6 point lead.
The Royals got the ball and needed to fire back in order to take the lead and win the game. With descent starting field position the Royals looked to be in good shape. The Trojans buckled down and forced Erie to punt near midfield. The punt was botched and McDowell took over with good field position and only 8 minutes remaining.
Led by Xavier Pulliam and Schleicher, the Trojans utilized their inside run game — mainly using zone reads, to chew the clock. With just under three minutes to play, the Trojans faced first and goal from Erie’s 7 yard line. For McDowell, the unthinkable was about to occur and for Erie, it would be the most magnificent moment in the programs first season and may go down as one of the biggest moments in the schools football history. As Pulliam received the hand-off he fumbled and Erie’s Anthony Thompson pounced on the loose ball.
Jason Williams was hurting. His hand is probably broke and he can barely feel/hold the football. He was faced with the task of going 89 yards with only two timeouts and 2:49 remaining on the clock. He led the way for Tony Foster on a couple of big runs, allowing Erie to get to midfield with a little over one minute remaining on the clock.
Facing fourth and four with under a minute left, Willliams found Caleb Houston down the seam to give Erie another breath of hope. Williams connected with Jerome Henderson and Jamar Hudson before calling his own number on two consecutive plays. McDowell was penalized on both plays, the first for rougher the passer, and the second for a late hit. This put Erie at McDowell’s three yard line with four-seconds remaining in the game.
Coach Matz knew instantly what to do. Give the ball to Jason Williams. The call was Iso right up the gut.
Tony Foster was to lead the way and the rest is history, The trio of seniors on the right side of the offensive line also have to be given credit. E.J. Bowes (RG), Youssef Ibrahim (Inside Tackle), and Malik McRae (Outside Tackle) for dominating the line of scrimmage on that last play and throughout the whole game.
Erie’s defense was led by seniors Keshawn Goudy (MLB), Arlan Pulliam (OLB) and Jamar Hudson (DE). While McDowell was led by Shelby Wiley (SS), Sebastien Moubarak (MLB) and Josh Herman (OLB).
Erie ran for an incredible 391 yards on 69 rushes. Both Erie and McDowell produced over 400 yards of offense.
Last year, Central Tech, East and Strong Vincent combined for just 9 wins. Erie has been able to produce 9 wins and a district champion in season one. And for many of these young athletes, this is the first real taste of victory and success in their careers. It was an awe inspiring moment to see how much this game means to these young men. For some of the Royals, this was the pinnacle achievement of their athletic careers thus far.
The Royals (9-2) will take on State College (8-2) in a PIAA sub-regional game. The Little Lions are coming off a 31-10 win over Central Dauphin. The teams will be familiar with one another, as they scrimmaged back in August.
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