Huskies face another tough first half

Northeastern escapes with two-point win

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County quarterback Noah Wright, right, hands off to running back Gage Schaeffer Friday in Lewistown.

LEWISTOWN — The Mifflin County football team hasn’t been able to put a complete game together this season.

The Huskies play competitive football in the second half of games, but the first half is a much different story.

The same scenario played itself out Friday evening at Mitchell Field as two second-quarter scores were enough to give Northeastern the 21-19 non-league victory over Mifflin County.

Make no mistake — this loss hurt. The Huskies were the larger school with bigger kids and the favorites to win. But a back-breaking turnover in the second quarter spelled defeat and dropped Mifflin County to 0-3 on the season.

“We have to be a better first-half team. We’ve been playing lights out in the second half. We have to find a way to calm things down, especially in the second quarter,” Mifflin County coach Scot Sechler said. “We get things close and then start to panic a little bit and rush through plays. It’s more mental errors than anything. We have to definitely clean that up. This loss was a heartbreaker.”

Down 21-13 late in the second, the Huskies had a second-and-goal at the 4 when quarterback Noah Wright’ s pass was picked off by Quinton Ensing ending the threat.

“We were hoping to get some takeaways in this game, but we have to be a little bit cleaner. We missed some handoffs and things we’ve never done before in practice. To do it in a game situation was kind of strange for me to see it happen,” Sechler said. “We have to continue to get better and continue to grow as a team. If we keep plugging away good things are going to happen.”

Mifflin County got back in the game on an eight-play, 86-yard drive capped by Wright’s one-yard touchdown run on the sneak. The two-point conversion failed with the Huskies trailing 21-19 with 7:49 to go in regulation. A 20-yard reception by Zach Bickhart, a 25-yard run by Wright, and a 27-yard dash by Trey Kibe keyed the drive.

The Huskies found themselves in a fourth-and-10 on their own with 2:37 left in the game and two time outs in the bank. Sechler played to win. Unfortunately for Mifflin County, Wright’s pass sailed over the head of Wyatt Henry.

“I was a little bit concerned with that. Coach (Christian) Hassinger thought he had a play called that was going to work but unfortunately, that was one of the balls that sailed long,” Sechler said. “I think Noah has a stronger arm than he realizes sometimes. We ran some wrong routes today. We’re not clean by any stretch of the imagination. We have some work to do.”

The defense somehow managed to keep the Bobcats (1-2) from scoring to give the home team a final chance at victory, but three incomplete passes and a sack ended the game and moved the Huskies to their 14th consecutive non-conference loss.

“I thought coach (Brian) Yeager did a great job with some second-half adjustments. Our defensive line definitely stepped up their game in the second half,” Sechler said. “I like that our kids held them when we were packed in down in our territory. We held them and got the ball back. That showed a lot of heart and fortitude. I think a lot of kids would have rolled over and given up. That shows me we have guts.”

Northeastern got the ball rolling when Frank Brown, who finished with 109 yards on 22 carries, scored from the two to make it 7-0 with 6:08 to go in the first. Mifflin County took a 13-7 lead with two scores — the first on a 61-yard reception by Bickhart and the second on a 55-yard run by Gage Schaeffer with one second left in the quarter. Schaeffer, who left the game in the second half with a knee injury, finished with a season high 80 yards on 12 carries.

“We had some things drawn up like the splash play (Zach) Bickhart scored on. We saw some things on film we thought would work. This is the first time we’ve used it and it was money,” Sechler said.

The Bobcats owned the second quarter punching it in twice to take a 21-13 lead into the half. QB Zach Sanderson ran it in from the two and Brown scored his second touchdown of the game, this one from six-yards out.

Mifflin County travels to Northern York to open Mid-Penn Colonial play on Friday.

“We would have liked to go into conference play with a win. A lot of people have the impression that when we get into the conference schedule we’ll face inferior teams compared to what we start the season with but that’s not the case,” Sechler said. “When you get into the conference race the intensity increases. They teams in our conference have every bit the talent and every bit the amount of will as the bigger schools. It’s not going to be easy by a long shot.”

Northeastern 21, Mifflin County 19

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Northeastern 7 14 0 0–21

Mifflin County 13 0 0 6–19

First Quarter

N–Brown 2 run (Afata kick), 6:08.

MC–Z. Bickhart 61 pass from Wright (Carter kick), 3:15.

MC–Schaeffer 55 run (kick failed), :01.

Second Quarter

N–Sanderson 2 run (Afata kick), 6:44.

N–Brown 6 run (Afata kick), 3:37.

Fourth Quarter

MC–Wright 1 run (pass failed), 7:49

TEAM STATISTICS

N MC

First downs 13 9

Total yards 303 275

Rushes-yards 37-186 26-126

Yards passing 117 149

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 9-16-1 8-27-1

Punts-avg. 3-29.3 4-33.8

Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1

Penalties-yards 8-65 4-30

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: N–Brown 22-109, Sanderson 6-(-3), Capo 5-68, Hamilton 1-3, Williams 3-9; MC–Schaeffer 12-80, Wright 8-18, Henry 2-(-1), Poche 2-2, Kibe 2-27.

PASSING: N–Sanderson 9-16-117-1; MC–Wright 8-27-149-1.

RECEIVING: N–Brown 3-24, Hamilton 2-38, Lagana 2-47, Elzinga 2-8; MC–Z. Bickhart 3-84, J. Jackson 2-34, Miller 1-17, Schaeffer 1-9, Kibe 1-5.

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