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Walker, Jackson lead Gateway to first ever state playoff win

Written by: on Sunday, November 26th, 2017

 

Quarterback Brady Walker and wide receiver Courtney Jackson hooked up for a pair of long td passes and piled on the yardage to lead the Gateway Gators to their first PIAA State Playoff win in history. Walker threw for nearly 330 yards and 3 tds while Jackson hauled in td passes of 53 and 33 yards while piling up 11 catches for 223 yards. The Gators as a whole racked up nearly 600 yards of offense”We just made some mistakes in the first half that we had to fix” said Jackson of a first half filled with errors that kept Hollidaysburg close. Three Gator turnovers allowed the Tigers to keep it at a 28-17 deficit, but Coach Don Holl’s Gators just had too much talent for the Tigers to overcome, and the Gators pulled away in the second half to a 49-30 win. They advance to next weeks Class 5A Semi-Final. Friday 7PM Mansion Park, Altoona against Manheim Twp.

Jackson opened the game with a bang, taking the second snap of the game 78 yards on a reverse, changing direction midway and streaking across the field showing his exceptional speed. “I think it takes the life out of the other teams when you score quick like that” said Jackson of the early score. Only, it didn’t suck the life out of Gateway, at least not right away.

The Tigers struck right back, After their first drive failed, Jacob Sensenig stepped in front of a Walker pass at the 34. Three plays later Brady Walters hit Trevor Miller for a 20 yard td to tie the score at seven.

One the ensuing drive, Walker found freshman running back Derrick Davis for a quick 25 yard pick up , then finished that drive himself rushing in from 18 yards to to make the score 14-7 with 10:55 left in the first half.

The Tigers again were unphased. Jack Sauserman returned the kick to the Gator 35, and on the next play Walter hit Keaton Nolan over the middle. Nolen shed a tackler, stumbled, then headed straight for the endzone. Vlad Hilling nailed the pat to yet again tie the score at 14 with still 9:55 left to play in the first half. On the very next drive, the Gators coughed up the the ball on a fumble, but their defense this time held the Tigers and forced a punt. Brady found Jackson for his first td pass of three, this one from 53 yards out to regain the lead. “We made some mistakes in the first half, you can’t do that against a team like them who is going to play hard all game.” 

Hollidaysburg again fought back, but then the wheels started coming off for the Tigers. Three consecutive penalties moved them from inside Gator territory all the way back inside their 20 but did manage to get most of the yardage back before punting to the Gator 11. But those play makers were just too much to contain. Walker quickly moved his team down field, hitting Jackson, Davis and Travis Thompson for gains of 19, 29, 15 and 12 yards before finding Thompson for a 9 yard score with little time left on the clock. “I’ve been an offensive coach for a long time. Its a neat thing to have a quarterback to have the abilities he has” said coach Holl..

Hollidaysburg did get one more score in the half when a fake punt put the ball in Vlad Hillings range, and he hit a 42 yarder into the wind as time expired. Tiger coach Homer Dellattre said “we just lacked that ability to finish. It’s 21-14, we make a bunch of penalties. We had two momentum killing drives in the first half, then they come out and get the pick on the first play of the second half, we just have to learn to finish.” That interception came from Tui Faumuina-Brown and set up a one yard plunge from Davis to make it 35-17.

Hollidaysburg fought hard the entire game, never giving up. Following the Jackson/Walker 33 yard td to make it 42-17, Tiger running back Jack Young started getting chunks and eventually scored on a 1 yarder to make it 42-23. The senior for the Tigers rushed for over 100 yards. JaQuan Thomas scored from 2 yards out to make it 49-23 and Walters hit Sauserman from 30 yards out to close the scoring.

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