NHS falls short in high-scoring contest
Northampton’s first home playoff game, in a long time, did not go as hoped, but was a game every kid on each team will remember for the rest of their lives.
Both offenses were explosive as both teams combined for nearly 900 yards of total offense.
Northampton’s junior quarterback Joe Kerbacher completed 21 of 34 passes for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior half back Tyrese Brandon ran 19 times for 96 yards, while catching 6 passes for 64 yards. The senior back scored two rushing touchdowns on the night.
The game started off with a bang, as Easton’s Nahjee Adams combined with Tamir Jackson to rumble down to the Easton 1-yard line. Adams capped off the drive with a 1-yard TD blast to put Easton up 7-0.
Northampton responded with a couple of nice runs by senior running back Tyrese Brandon and junior quarterback Joe Kerbacher. Although, the K-Kids were not able to get in the end zone, giving junior kicker Aidan Reinhard the opportunity to kick a 38-yard field goal. He put it through to bring the game to 7-3.
After another Easton long drive and score, Northampton responded.
The K-Kids were about to put the ball back into the hands of the Rovers offense, but, after a roughing the kicker call on Easton put the Northampton offense on the Easton 32-yard line, the K-Kids drove down to the Easton 5-yard line, with Brandon finishing the drive with a 5-yard TD run.
Both teams then traded possessions, but Easton’s Adams would not be denied on the following drive. After one short run, Adams took the ball to the Northampton 12-yard line, going 38 yards down the left sideline. The 38-yard run was his longest of the night. He finished the drive with a 3-yard TD run.
On the following drive, Northampton senior running back Josh Gaycheck broke a big run. The senior took a zone run and kept bouncing it to the outside, where he found a huge seam in the Rovers defense, taking it 51 yards for the score.
After a kick out of bounds, Easton was able to quickly respond with another Adams touchdown run. This pushed the Easton lead to 28-17.
Northampton just wouldn’t go away.
The K-Kids had plenty of opportunity to hang their heads after the success of the Rovers offense, but they wouldn’t be denied.
With little time left in the first half, Northampton QB Joe Kerbacher drove the offense down to the Easton 24-yard line. With a little more than 15 seconds left, Kerbacher took a shotgun snap and began scrambling. The junior outraced an Easton defender around the edge and just before running out of bounds, threw a pass to the back of the end zone, where Josh Gaycheck made a spectacular grab over an Easton defender.
Easton had the lead 28-24 going into halftime.
There looked to be a change in the tides in the second half. After punts by both teams, Northampton took possession of the ball. That’s when Kerbacher connected with senior wide receiver Jared Russell on a 61-yard catch and score. The completion came off of a double reverse flea-flicker that gave the speedy receiver a chance to blow by the Easton secondary. This gave Northampton a 31-28 lead.
On the next Easton series, Tyrese Brandon forced a fumble on Easton’s Justin Holmes after a short completion. Northampton cornerback Spencer Cole jumped on the ball to give the K-Kids possession.
Northampton wasn’t able to capitalize on the Easton mistake however, and handed the ball back over to the Rovers on the Easton 40-yard line. After a long connection between Easton quarterback Cole Transue and receiver Justin Holmes, Easton’s star Adams ran it in from 5 yards out to give Easton back the lead, 35-31.
Following the score, Easton recovered a Northampton fumble off of a muffed punt and put the ball back into Adams’ hands. The D1 prospect, then scored his sixth touchdown on the night. The 7-yard score pushed the Easton lead to 42-31. This also marked the end of the third quarter.
That’s right, 73 points in three quarters.
Northampton came back with another score of its own. The K-Kids drove 73 yards in eight plays and scored on a 3-yard run from versatile back Brandon. This put the Kids within 5 points, with the score at 42-37.
Easton answered with a long drive to close the game, but opportunity struck for Northampton. Easton fumbled a reverse near the Northampton goal line and the ball was picked up by the defense.
This put the Northampton offense at their own 19-yard line with 2 minutes left in the game. The moment was what every high school football player dreams of.
Kerbacher completed a couple of passes to get the Kids close to the 50-yard line. Then, after a couple of stops, Kerbacher threw a fourth down pass to senior Mason Gunkle for a 9-yard completion.
This got the crowd wild with less than a minute in the game.
Then after a sack and couple of incompletions, Northampton was yet again facing a tough 4th down. But, Northampton came up just short as the Easton defense was able to get to Kerbacher behind the line of scrimmage and sack the tough quarterback. Easton ran out the clock and came away with the 42-37 victory.
Northampton finishes the year at 9-2, as Easton (7-4) looks to take on Nazareth (10-1) in the second round of the district playoffs.