Last-second TD pass lifts Springdale over Carmichaels in high-scoring thriller
After falling behind by a point with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left, Springdale knew it had enough time to drive for a touchdown.
Things almost didn't work out that way, however.
A 7-yard pass from Sammy Carey to Josh Harmon with 3.4 seconds left in the game lifted the Dynamos to a 50-44 victory over Carmichaels in a WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff game.
Mikes quarterback Jonathan Christopher scored his fifth touchdown of the game on a keeper, then ran in the 2-point conversion to put No. 6-seeded Carmichaels ahead, 44-43.
“It's just a blur right now,” Springdale coach Dave Leasure said after the game. “We waited five years to win a playoff game, and this was the best game I've ever been a part of. Our kids could have quit so many times.”
The see-saw battle at Carmichaels Stadium featured no punts, no turnovers and each team being stopped on downs only once under the Greene County skies.
“Never thought I'd see a team lose a playoff game and not punt,” said Mikes coach Ryan Krull. “I just wanted to score. I wasn't worried with how much clock we were leaving them.”
The No. 11-seed Dynamos (6-5), now 20-12 all-time in the WPIAL playoffs, will face second-seeded Jeannette next weekend at a site and time to be determined.
Carmichaels, champion of the Tri-County South Conference, finished 7-3.
On that frantic final drive — 60 yards in 11 plays — Springdale was the beneficiary of a pass interference call on third-and-14 from the Dynamos 46.
A shoestring catch at the Mikes' 1-yard line by Harmon put Springdale in business with 56 seconds left. The plan was to leave no time on the clock, but it almost backfired. Carey was stopped at the 2, then the Dynamos were called for illegal procedure with 11 seconds remaining.
That set up the scoring play, a slant to the right of the end zone by Harmon.
“As soon as I caught that pass, it was the greatest feeling in the world,” Harmon said. “Growing up, I've never had a winning season. We got beat in the first round the past two years, and we knew we had to come out and win.”
“I told Sammy not to get in on the first down there,” Leasure said. “Then I got a little scared when we got the false start, but he bailed us out and made a great throw.”
It was the top game in Carey's career, 230 yards passing and five touchdowns. He ran a perfect bootleg left with 8:27 to go that gave Springdale a 43-36 advantage.
“That was the game of his career,” Leasure said. “He could have thrown for 2,000 yards in a lot of offenses, but for us, he's a team guy and he answered the bell tonight.”
Christopher's 34 points set a Carmichaels single-game record for an individual.
Brennen Pelzer rushed for 120 yards in seven carries, including a 55-yard scoring run for the Mikes, whose all-time playoff record slipped to 4-24-1.
Sowinski had 138 yards rushing and two Dynamos touchdowns.
George Guido is a freelance writer.