Late field goal propels Waynesboro past Northern York 13-10

Waynesboro's placekicker Andrew Soffe follows through on a 26-yard field goal that gave the Indians a 13-10 victory over Northern York, Saturday at Buchanan Automotive Stadium. LEE GOODWIN/LOCAL.NEWS

WAYNESBORO – Andrew Soffe is listed at 5-foot-6, 150 pounds on the Waynesboro varsity football roster.

But his presence on the football field at Buchanan Automotive Stadium on Saturday afternoon loomed larger than life. The junior placekicker provided the boost the Indians needed, and his final contribution won the game.

Soffe, who earlier in the game kicked a 21-yard field goal, arched a kick right down the middle of the uprights from 26 yards with 2.8 seconds remaining. Jaylon Bean blooped the kickoff, and Waynesboro swarmed to the ball carrier as time expired in a thrilling 13-10 comeback victory.

Waynesboro took over at its 20-yard line with 1:28 left to play following a punt as the Polar Bears were stymied by Waynesboro’s undersized but swarming defense – which, at times, didn’t follow through on tackles but made up for it by sheer numbers of players near the ball carriers.

Short gains of three yards by running back Mikel Holden and two yards by Bean set up a third down. Northern York called time out after both plays, meaning Waynesboro was able to save its time outs for later.

Holden worked his way out of a couple tackles and picked up six yards for a first down. Holden was dragged down after another short gain.

Then, Bean finally showed what he can do in the open field. Unable to find an open receiver, Bean took off running down the sideline and didn’t stop until he gained 26 yards to the Northern 41. Holden broke loose for a 14-yard gain to the 27, and, following an incomplete pass, Holden ran for another 13 yards to get the ball closer to the end zone and gave Soffe a shorter attempt.

“We needed it,” said Waynesboro head coach Josh Sprenkle. “We’ve been so close in all these games, and our guys fought to the end and came up short; and we finally turned the corner today.

“I told them at halftime, ‘the season Is on the line right now. We’re down 10 points; we have to rally and play every play like the season ends today.”

Waynesboro entered the rare day game with a 1-3 record. A loss would have dropped the Indians to 1-4 and possibly send the season into a tailspin.

The win lifts Waynesboro to 2-3, still a losing record, but with the hopes that the Tribe can win its second game in a row against Susquehanna Township and even it up at 3-3.

It also makes for a logjam in the Mid-Penn Colonial Division. Gettysburg is the only team without a loss at 2-0 in the division. After that, Northern York, Shippensburg, East Pennsboro, Mechanicsburg, Waynesboro and Greencastle-Antrim are all 1-1.

Northern York is also 2-3 overall.

A number of individual plays helped boost Waynesboro’s chances of coming back from the proverbial abyss, risking its second shut-out loss of the season.

In fact, the game was eerily similar to the Tribe’s 17-0 loss to Chambersburg, which featured costly mistakes (including a fumble into the end zone with Waynesboro trailing 10-0) but with the Trojans never really putting the game away until a late interception that set up Chambersburg with a short field and a late score.

Freshman Rayshawn Frazer-Hewitt made three big plays. The freshman and quarterback of the junior varsity team, made a key defensive play when he disrupted quarterback Timothy Bonin’s pass near the end zone. The play occurred on third down at the Waynesboro 11-yard line and resulted in a field goal with 6:44 to play in the first quarter.

Northern’s opening drive encapsulated what kind of game it was for Waynesboro in the first half, one that the Polar Bears led 10-0 going into halftime.

Running backs Cole Bartram and Talon Belluscio spearheaded a 70-yard, 10-play drive with decent gains that set up Mason Yohn, who later missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.

Bartram, who battered Shippensburg’s defense to the tune of 166 yards in a 17-6 win last week, finished with 129 yards on 17 carries.

While the Indians defense was victimized by some sizable gains, they never gave up a big play, or a string of big plays. And, the defense continued to battle an offense that was able to move the ball down the field with lots of yardage but few points.

Waynesboro suffered a big blow less than half-way through the opening quarter when Mikel Holden fumbled the ball over to Northern York at the Waynesboro 35.

Holden would more than make up for the mistake, as he would pick up much-needed yardage on the Indians game-winning drive in the fourth period.

Holden ran the ball 26 times for 104 yards, and most of his yards were gained the hard way, between the tackles.

His biggest run of the game was for 14 yards, in which he was cornered on the sideline but managed to change course and run to the other side of the field before turning in and was finally taken down at the Northern 14. He rammed his way for four yards on the next play, Waynesboro called its final time out, and Soffe entered the game and calmly kicked the winning field goal.

Soffe’s initial field goal came with 2:39 left in the third quarter for the Tribe’s first points. The drive was made possible on a turnover at Northern’s 27-yard line. Bonin never got full possession of the snap, and Kaden Ditch pounced on it.

Holden rushed for 10 yards on the short scoring drive. Bean picked up seven more that put the ball on the seven. Waynesboro tried to dent the interior of Northern’s defense, but to no avail, and three straight plays up the middle yielded only two yards, setting up Soffe’s field goal

Frazer-Hewitt’s second exploit came on the last play of the third quarter. The freshman quarterback completed his first and only pass of the game when he took a hand off from Holden on the opposite side of the field and ran for daylight toward the Waynesboro side of the field before launching a beautiful 24-yard strike to Scott Campbell at the Northern York 8.

Sprenkle, who brought up Frazer-Hewitt from the JV team recently, said the offense just installed the reverse pass play last week but didn’t have the opportunity to use it.

Three plays later, Bean extended his 6-foot-5 body across the goal line, and Soffe kicked the extra point to tie the game at 10-10.

It looked for all the world that both teams might be playing for overtime as time wound down in this Mid-Penn Colonial showdown.

The Waynesboro defense bent but didn’t break and chased Bonin on virtually every pass attempt. It also dodged some potentially long gainers as second-line defensive players kicked into high gear and chased runners to the outside before they could turn the corner and get down field.

Northern York had the ball for 30 plays in the first half, compared to 22 for the Indians.

Waynesboro defensive back Robert Howard broke up a third-down pass that prevented the Polar Bears from getting something else going on offense. Bonin completed a pass for a seven-yard loss after being pressured, and Frazer contributed with a hat trick of key plays when he recovered a fumble deep in Waynesboro’s end of the field.

However, Bean threw an interception on the Tribe’s side of the 50, which resulted in a missed field goal with 4:09 left in the first half.

Waynesboro passed a crucial test on Saturday, overcoming the inability of the offense to control and move the ball and using resilience and extra effort to overcome huge odds.

“We match up well with Northern,” Sprenkle said. “Last year was 6-0 in a downpour. It’s always a tight hard-fought game. That’s as old school football as you’ll see, when both teams are lining up in the power-I and slamming into each other until somebody breaks.”

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