In a wacky, frenetic and disjointed game that had more fireworks that Red, White and Boom, it made sense that the marathon session between two offensive juggernauts ended with a stellar defensive play.
James Watkins intercepted a pass by Moses Davis at the goal line with 2 seconds remaining Sept. 8 and the host Mifflin High School football team hung on for a 55-48 victory over Harvest Prep, which dominated the second half after staging a thrilling comeback.
“That was the greatest high school football game I’ve ever been part of, and that includes a state championships,” a teary-eyed Mifflin coach Anthony Thornton said. “They had us worn out, but we reached down deep and had just enough will and fortitude to get it done. That’s been our M.O. the first three games.”
A sack and fumble recovery of Davis with 4:32 left put Mifflin in business at the Warriors 27. Quarterback Daveonn Logan scored on a 1-yard keeper and added a two-point conversion run to send the Punchers ahead 55-48.
But 2:20 was plenty of time for Harvest Prep, which ran its fast-paced, run-heavy offense to perfection in the second half. The Warriors drove deep into Punchers territory. On third-and-4 at the 9-yard line and no timeouts remaining, Davis was intercepted by Watkins, who made several big plays in the second half.
“It was crazy, pure crazy,” said Watkins, a senior in his first year of football. “I saw the pass coming my way the whole time. I knew they had to throw because they were out of timeouts. They had us gassed in the second half. They had us on the ropes, to tell you the truth, but we came through it for the win.”
Logan had a magnificent game, passing for 332 yards and five touchdowns and running for two touchdowns.
Not to be outdone, Harvest Prep’s brilliant senior running back Daniel Bangura — who set state rushing and scoring records last season — gained 442 yards on 60 carries with three touchdowns. He also passed for a two-point conversion and would have been the hero on the final drive, but his halfback pass was dropped in the end zone.
“We had ’em right where we wanted them,” Harvest Prep coach Milan Smith said. “We just made too many mistakes that killed us. It’s just a game, after all. We’ll bounce back. We’re a Division VII program that has proven it can play with anybody.”
Mifflin led by as much as 33-16 until Harvest Prep’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense began wearing on the Punchers’ defense with Bangura’s punishing inside running.
The Punchers, who took advantage of four Warriors turnovers, regained the momentum on an 85-yard interception return by Jeremiah Jackson in the third quarter to make it 41-32.
But Bangura answered with a 46-yard touchdown run. An 11-yard touchdown pass from Logan to Jackson with 8:29 left cut the Warriors’ lead to 48-47.
It took a strip sack by Righteous Fleshman, his third fumble recovery of the night, to set up Mifflin’s final score.
“They made some unforced errors that definitely swung the outcome tonight,” Thornton said. “But I’d like to think our hustle had something to do with it.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final HARVEST PREP 0 16 24 8 48 MIFFLIN
13 14 14 14 55