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Purchase Line has a blackout victory

Written by: on Monday, September 24th, 2018


Purchase Line’s sophomore Joshua Syster (22) led the team with 119 rushing yards against Blairsville as the Red Dragons hosted the Bobcats for their homecoming. Teammate Mello Sanchez (3) blocks for Syster as he runs with the ball. TAMMY SCHMITTLE PHOTO


Homecoming is something that most high schoolers never forget. The events of Friday, September 21, 2018’s game made sure of that. The Purchase Line Red Dragons faced off against the Blairsville Bobcats, defeating them as time expired with a score of 22-20. After the game, junior quarterback Jacob Barnett said, “Coach (Matthew) Falisec told us that it’s not over and we’re going to go down and score. We just trusted the play calls and we made great plays. It was the most exciting game of my life.”

Purchase Line was first to have the ball and the first to have a shot at scoring. The Dragons drove the ball to inside the 20-yard line before the drive stalled, giving the Bobcats possession after a turnover on downs. Blairsville was the first to strike on their first possession, with a 74-yard touchdown, when Adam Ratkus received a pass from Devin Burkhart with six minutes and forty seconds left in the first quarter.

The second quarter consisted of both teams moving the ball back and forth but neither of them could get close enough to score. Blairsville became dependent on moving the ball through the air, while Purchase Line ran. The Dragons became desperate for a momentum changer and started going for the endzone. As time ran out, Barnett passed the ball to an open sophomore Josh Syster, who ran to the endzone and scored Purchase Line’s first touchdown of the night, when the buzzer went off. The score at the end of the first half was 6-6, and that was only the beginning.

The third quarter opened up with Blairsville getting the ball. The Dragons and the Bobcats traded possessions until Blairsville began to push the ball down to the other side of the field and ended up scoring a touchdown. Garett Henigin scored when he received a 15-yard pass in the endzone with seven minutes and fifty-seven seconds left in the third quarter. The game continued with a score of 12-6, and only a few more plays were played before the blackout occurred. The field went dark and the players rushed to the sidelines. Even in the midst of all of this chaos, the crowd and cheerleaders cheered, the band played, and the players began to warm themselves up for the rest of the game. It was approximately sixteen minutes before the lights, slowly, began to come back on. The power outage ignited the Red Dragons’ desire to win. The Dragons went back to old school football and held the Bobcats for the rest of the third quarter.

Blairsville running back freshman Sincere McFarlin (20) is met at the line by Purchase Line junior Gabe Kitchen (36) and a host of other Red Dragons as Purchase Line earned their first win of the season. TAMMY SCHMITTLE PHOTO

The fourth quarter was a hard-fought one by both teams. The Dragons’ offensive line and full back were opening up holes for Syster to run through. The Dragons scored on a 2-yard run by Syster, who followed up with a successful two-point conversion. Finally, Purchase gained the lead from Blairsville, 14-12. This score sparked something in Purchase Line’s defense, and caused them to shut down every play that the Bobcats tried to make. Junior Cullen Goncher said, “I thought we played well defensively and we got a lot of things going on offense. The power outage made everyone go crazy and that gave us the momentum.” The Bobcats were forced to punt, and the Dragons were hoping to run out the game clock. The Dragons began to grind up the field, taking precious seconds off of the clock. A costly fumble by Purchase Line gave the ball back to Blairsville, giving them time to score. They did just that, when Burkhart snuck into the endzone with only one minute and three seconds remaining in the game. A reception by a Bobcat made the conversion successful, and the score became 20-14. The Dragons began to drive the ball up the field with passes to Syster and senior Cameron Yoder, gaining yards every second. With fourteen seconds left in the game, Purchase Line made it to the Bobcats’ 6-yard line. After two incomplete passes, the clock was down to two seconds. Purchase Line called a timeout in order to perfect the next play. When the time came to make the play, Purchase Line handled it well. Barnett dumped the ball into the arms of Syster, who picked up many blocks and cut across the field to score the game tying point. The buzzer had already gone off, and it was now or never for the Dragons, who were a two-point conversion away from their first victory. The Dragons went into an I-formation and Syster followed the fullback and the rest of the lineman into the endzone for the winning two points. The crowd erupted and the players and coaches charged the field. “The linemen gave Jacob the time to make the read and all I do was run,” Syster said, following the game. Syster was the lead rusher of the game with 119 yards.

“What an awesome game to be a part of. I give the kids a lot of credit for playing a full forty-eight minutes of football in the conditions that we had. This is a win we needed to get ―a much-needed confidence booster,” said Head Coach Matthew Falisec. “I will never forget this game.”

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