The Wildcats had to rally from behind and score just before the final minute to notch the historic victory over Pine Grove on senior night.
Halifax march 62 yards in 10 plays, capped by QB London Johnson’s 1-yard plunge, to record the winning touchdown with 1:09 to play in a 20-16 victory over the Cardinals.
“This feels great, it really does,” said Halifax senior WR-DB Broc Grosser, who finished with seven catches for 139 yards and a TD to go along with his eight tackles. “We were predicted to finish sixth, I believe, in the preseason. Give Pine Grove credit, this was not easy at all. We had to earn it and that makes it that much sweeter.”
Pine Grove completely dominated the first half across the board, but the Cardinals and Wildcats went to halftime deadlocked 0-0.
Twice in the opening 24 minutes, the Cardinals, who pounded the rock consistently all night long with RB Dalton Kintzel and a dominating offensive line, ventured inside the Halifax red zone but couldn’t capitalize.
The key stop by the Halifax defense came just before the half with a stellar goal-line stand.
Pine Grove had four snaps in the dying seconds inside the Wildcats 10-yard line. But the half expired with linebackers Johnson and Dalton Marshall teaming up to stop Kintzel 1 yard short of the end zone on the last play.
“Yeah those stops in the red zone the first half were huge, just huge, for our defense,” Grosser said. “Defense was on the field a lot the first half, but when we needed it came up with some big-time stops.”
Pine Grove ran 40 plays from scrimmage, with Kintzel carrying on 24 of those for 104 yards, and dominated time of possession by owning the ball for nearly 19 of the 24 minutes. Halifax had only 14 snaps and 75 total yards yet was tied 0-0.
That all changed in third quarter when the teams combined for three touchdowns and 21 points. Grosser opened the scoring by taking a simple screen in the flat and making Cardinals miss on his way to a 63-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Pine Grove quickly answered with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Josh Leininger to Dawson Ibarra and added a two-point conversion to grab an 8-7 lead.
Back came Halifax, using a pair of chunk runs from Tyler Berzowski that covered 28 yards and a Johnson-to-Jay Zerby 26-yard connection that took the ball down to the 1-yard line.
Johnson took care of the final yard and moved Halifax in front 13-8 heading to the final quarter.
Pine Grove, using a partially blocked punt to set up at the Halifax 36-yard line, went back to Kintzel to surge back in front.
The junior, who finished with a staggering 37 carries for 167 yards, capped the short drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that made it 16-13.
Halifax took over with 6:02 to play and needed 62 yards and a touchdown to secure a TVL title.
Grosser was the key to victory. The senior turned a couple screen passes into 24- and 20-yard gains and then drew a pass interference call in the end zone that put the Wildcats on victory’s doorstep.
“Before that last drive, I told coach that the screen pass is open all night and the guys were blocking them well,” Grosser said. “It was a great drive we put together with a championship on the line. That’s what you want.”