Packer’s 100th: Comets Earn Victory in 6 Overtimes, Win 42-36 Against Red Dragons
Written by: Luke Rainey on Saturday, October 6th, 2018
The Purchase Line Red Dragons have been anything but red-hot in the 2018 season. Aside from beating the Blairsville Bobcats in Week 4, their first 6 games have left Matt Falisec and his team searching for answers. Meanwhile, the Penns Manor Comets possess a 3-3 record, and after a loss in Overtime to the West Shamokin Wolves, they were looking to rebound with a victory against a rival opponent. However, the Red Dragons refused to bend against the triple-threat in the Comets’ backfield, but the same applies for Penns Manor’s defense. The 0-0 halftime score would eventually give way to a 14-14 tie at the end of regulation, as both teams finally managed to reach the end zone on 2 occasions. Once Overtime began, the Comets and Red Dragons battled back and forth in a phenomenal shootout, scoring 22 points before entering the 4th Overtime. At the same moment, both offenses temporarily flat-lined, but the Comets were the first to revive themselves with a game-winning touchdown two periods later, breaking the single-game record set by Purchase Line and Blairsville in 2015 for the most Overtimes in the Heritage Conference’s 19-year history. Additionally, the shootout earned Penns Manor Head Coach Bill Packer his 100th career victory, a milestone that will forever cement his legacy in the conference.
Purchase Line received the kickoff and chose to run the ball on their first series. After successfully converting a 4th & 4 in their own territory, their hopes to begin the game on a high note ended on a poorly executed pitch, in which they fumbled on 2nd down. Mike Rizzo for the Comets recovered, allowing Penns Manor to open business at Purchase Line’s 47-yard line. Despite the positive field position, an 18-yard sack by Cameron Yoder squandered the Comets’ initial possession. The Red Dragons were held to another quick punt, and the Comets could not break the tie after several penalties on their next series.
Offensive struggles for both teams persisted throughout the 2nd quarter, as the following drive for Purchase Line was unproductive. Penns Manor chose to stick to rushing the ball on every play, but despite reaching the 14-yard line, their scoring opportunity collapsed with a Turnover On Downs. Likewise, the Red Dragons steadily moved to Penns Manor territory with very little time remaining in the opening half, but an incomplete pass on 4th & 14 ended their drive. The Comets were stopped by the clock on the next possession, keeping the score 0-0 at halftime.
Penns Manor was given a glint of hope with a return to the 44-yard line in their territory, but the decent field position was all for naught, as Purchase Line’s defense forced another punt. The first significant momentum swing occurred on the Red Dragons’ next drive, with Brandon Baird partially blocking the punt to put the Comets comfortably inside Purchase Line’s side of the field. As a result, Penns Manor quickly scored with 3 runs from Mathew Somogyi, the final one being a 1-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion was successful, handing the Comets an 8-0 lead midway through the 3rd Quarter. However, in a crucial drive, Jacob Barnett answered with a scramble from Purchase Line’s 36-yard line, running 64 yards to the end zone. Josh Syster’s 8-yard run after a Delay of Game on their 2-point attempt evened the score at 8-8 less than 2 minutes after the Comets’ touchdown.
The Comets’ offense did not ease off the throttle on their following possession, as great starting field position and a personal foul against Purchase Line allowed them to get to the 34-yard line. Four plays after the penalty, Somogyi scored another touchdown with a handoff at the goal line to help the Comets retake the lead. Dimitri Lieb was unable to score on the 2-point try, keeping them ahead 14-6 as time expired in the 3rd Quarter.
Purchase Line were on the doorsteps of a game-changing play inside enemy territory, but Cameron Yoder could not secure Barnett’s pass that would have landed the Red Dragons in the red-zone. Consequently, their drive led to a punt. The Comets were about to suffer the same fate, but were spared when Purchase Line was penalized for roughing the punter. They did not capitalize when their drive continued, as Somogyi was stopped shy of the 1st Down marker on 4th & 2, a play that would keep Purchase Line’s hopes alive.
The Red Dragons conducted a textbook drive in the final 7 minutes of the game. On their 16-play possession, Barnett kept the ball on at least 10 plays, eventually sneaking his way to a 1-yard touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining. With the score tied at 14-14, a 2-point conversion would virtually end the game, but Barnett could not claw through Penns Manor’s defense, sending the game into Overtime.
Penns Manor had possession first on the initial overtime period, and on 4th Down at the 1-yard line, Tommy Hamilton rushed into the end zone for a touchdown, but the Comets failed to score on the 2-point conversion. With the Red Dragons needing at least 6 points, Cullen Goncher delivered a 5-yard rushing touchdown. If the 2-point attempt was successful, Purchase Line would earn their 2nd win of the season and postpone Bill Packer’s 100th victory. However, in similar fashion to the stop late in the 4th Quarter, the Comets’ defense continued to keep their team alive, yielding a 2nd Overtime.
Goncher continued to assist Barnett in carrying the Red Dragons’ offense, as he ran for a 2nd touchdown. In addition, he scored on the corresponding 2-point attempt, giving Purchase Line an 8-point advantage. Penns Manor still had a possession ahead of them to respond, and were able to do so with a 1-yard touchdown from Matt Somogyi. To keep the Comets in the game, Dimitri Lieb ran for a 2-point conversion to even the score at 28-28.
On the 3rd session of extra play, Penns Manor dug themselves in a hole early on their set of downs. To avoid heavy traffic, Lieb ran the other direction to try and use his speed to escape the defenders. However, the decision relegated the Comets to around the 20-yard line. The drive appeared to be a waste, but on 4th down from the 18 yard-line, Jimmy Lightner threw a prayer to Mathew Somogyi, who completed the pass in the end zone for his 4th touchdown of the game. Somogyi’s run on the 2-point attempt was successful to give Penns Manor an 8-point lead. The continuous turn of events persisted on Purchase Line’s possession, as Cullen Goncher’s 11-yard touchdown and 2-point score tied the game, resulting in another overtime.
Purchase Line received the ball first to begin the 4th Overtime, but left the field empty-handed after the Comets’ defense stood defiant. With a touchdown resulting in a guaranteed victory, the Comets were aiming to win the game on 4th & 11. However, while Andrew Packer was wide open just outside the end zone, Lightner’s pass could not reach him, leading to an interception. Similarly, on the 5th Overtime, the Red Dragons intercepted another pass, meaning they could win with a touchdown. Despite the turnover, Purchase Line could not score the game-winning touchdown. As a result, the game entered a record-breaking 6th Overtime series, with both teams deadlocked at a score of 36-36.
The Red Dragons had the initial possession, but once again, they did not have an answer for the Comets’ defensive unit. With another opportunity to win the game with a touchdown, Penns Manor tried to rush with Hamilton, but he was only able to gain 6 yards on 3 separate plays. Before the 4th Down play, the Comets used a timeout to discuss a potentially game-ending decision. On the snap, Lighter found Tommy Hamilton on a slant route in the end zone for a touchdown to give Penns Manor an incredible 42-36 victory over Purchase Line.
After the game, Lightner spoke about the winning touchdown. “I just knew Tommy was going to get open,” he stated. “We decided to put Trips on the right side and Tommy on the left, and he decided to run a slant.” Hamilton also gave credit to Lightner for the execution on the play, as he said, “Jimmy threw a perfect ball. It couldn’t have been any better.”
Ultimately, perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the victory for the Comets was for Bill Packer, who earned his 100th victory as the Comets’ Head Coach. “I give credit to all of the players that played for me in these 14 years, and all the coaching staff that’s been with me,” Packer commented. “With the coaching I have that’s stuck with me through all of this and with these kids that have played, I’m just so proud of them. They have just stepped it up and have done a good job.”
3rd Quarter: (7:25) PM – Matt Somogyi 1-Yard Rushing TD (Successful Run): 8-0
3rd Quarter: (5:48) PL – Jacob Barnett 64-Yard Rushing TD (Syster Run): 8-8
3rd Quarter: (3:32) PM – Matt Somogyi 2-Yard Rushing TD (Run Failed): 14-8
4th Quarter: (≈0:25) PL – Jacob Barnett 2-Yard Rushing TD (Run Failed): 14-14
1st Overtime: PM – Tommy Hamilton 1-Yard Rushing TD (Run Failed): 20-14
1st Overtime: PL – Cullen Goncher 5-Yard Rushing TD (Run Failed): 20-20
2nd Overtime: PL – Cullen Goncher 10-Yard Rushing TD (Goncher Run): 28-20
2nd Overtime: PM – Matt Somogyi 1-Yard Rushing TD (Lieb Run): 28-28
3rd Overtime: PM – Matt Somogyi 18-Yard Receiving TD (Somogyi Run): 36-28
3rd Overtime: PL – Cullen Goncher 11-Yard Rushing TD (Goncher Run): 36-36
6th Overtime: PM – Tommy Hamilton 4-Yard Receiving TD: 42-36
Follow WesternPAFootball.com on Twitter @WPAFootball