McDowell rallies to upset North Hills
Erie McDowell coach Mike Soboleski knew he was in trouble when he walked onto the field at Martorelli Stadium Friday night and saw North Hills coach Jack McCurry's name on the field house.
But that made McDowell's effort against one of the WPIAL's grandest football programs extra sweet as the league's rookie member upset previously undefeated North Hills, 19-14.
"We have so much respect for coach McCurry and how he coaches and how hard they play," Soboleski said. "They are going to be a force in the playoffs. For our kids to come down here and beat them says a lot for our kids' character tonight."
McDowell (5-2, 3-2 in the Quad North) came from behind to record the victory when running back Greg Garmon caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colin Kimball with 4:33 left in the game. Garmon finished with 132 yards on 20 carries.
John Dahlstrand intercepted a pass in the end zone with 1:21 left to ensure the victory for McDowell.
The pass came from backup quarterback Steve Dutkowski. He replaced star quarterback/safety Taylor Schmidt, who suffered a concussion on the game's sixth play.
"Our kids hung in there," said McCurry, who refused to allow Schmidt to re-enter the game. "He wanted to come back in."
McCurry was forced to alter his game plan, allowing Dutkowski to throw 29 times, with 12 completions for 128 yards and two interceptions.
North Hills (6-1, 3-1, and No. 4 in the Tribune-Review Class rankings) took a 14-13 led with 10:34 left in the game on Josh Neurohr's 1-yard run. The score was set up by three receptions by Brody Zangaro, who finished the game with six for 63 yards.
Zangaro made a diving interception at his 46 on McDowell's ensuring possession, but North Hills was forced to punt. McDowell got the ball back and marched to Garmon's winning score.
McDowell took advantage of Schmidt's absence in the first half, constructing an impressive scoring drive that started in the first quarter and ended midway through the second.
It began after North Hills moved into McDowell territory, but an interception by Garmon at his 8 turned around the momentum.
Garmon returned the theft 17 yards to the McDowell 25.
Defense was North Hills' ticket to first place in the Quad North, but McDowell found enough leakage to hold on to the football for 8 minutes, 40 seconds.
The punctuation at the end of a 19-play, 75-yard drive was a 7-yard touchdown run by Kimball. McDowell had a 7-0 lead with 8:29 left in the second quarter.
The damage to the proud North Hills defense included three successful conversions of fourth-and-short situations, with McDowell's Jeremy Baronner (two 1-yard bursts) and Kimball (3-yard option run) moving the sticks. Garmon's 14-yard run set up Kimball's score.
North Hills tied the score, 7-7, with 13 seconds left in the first half on a 3-yard touchdown strike from Dutkowski to Mark DeVita.