Fly Eagles! Youngsville rallies for thrilling 19-14 victory over Saegertown
Not since the the undefeated regular season of 2011 has there been so much joy at Mike Shine Field.
Behind a big day from birthday boy Brady Kesterholt and a 46-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Horner to Wyatt Rugar with just over two minutes left, Youngsville beat Saegertown 19-14 on a picture perfect Friday night.
In the process, they snapped the program’s 15-game winless streak. As you can imagine, there were plenty of good vibes going around afterwards.
“I’m speechless right now,” said Kesterholt. “It’s overwhelming. I’m so glad the underclassmen won’t have to go through what we went through. We’re just going to build off this and keep improving Youngsville football.”
Kesterholt and the core group of Youngsville seniors have had to deal with their fair share of adversity. So has first-year head coach Andy Chase, who, along with that senior leadership, have kept things positive despite numbers hovering around 20.
“These kids, these core group of kids are something special,” said Chase, who surely won’t forget his first win as head coach. “They have all the heart in the world and they’ve bought into the program and they’re ready. We just need the numbers to back them up. I just can’t say enough about them right now. Unbelievable kids.”
Not only did the Eagles (1-0) have to overcome adversity before the season even started, they also had to overcome some against the Panthers (0-1). They turned the ball over eight times, something Chase attributed in large part to their youth.
The defense stood tall every time they turned the ball over, however, limiting Saegertown’s scoring chances.
“Defensively, I thought we played great,” Chase said. “Just a couple of mistakes, but that’s to be expected in the first game of the season. We just kept bouncing back.”
The Horner to Rugar connection came on a third-and-seven, as Rugar found an open space in the flat, Horner was able to escape pressure and find him and the senior receiver did the rest, part of a 100-yard receiving effort.
A scary moment took place on the two-point try, as Rugar landed awkwardly on his head, forcing a stretcher to come out onto the field. That was seen as more of a precaution, however, as he was alert and moving, with many of his teammates planning on visiting him after the game.
After that, the Youngsville defense needed one final stop. They got it, preventing the Panthers from getting as much as a first down.
It looked early on as if the late game dramatics wouldn’t be necessary, as the Eagles took the game’s opening drive and did all of their work through the air. A 32-yard completion from Horner to Rugar got the ball down inside the five, and Horner was able to find Kesterholt two plays later for a 3-yard score.
“We have a core group of receivers and talented quarterback,” Kesterholt said. “They just throw the ball and we go and get it for them.”
Turnovers doomed the Eagles next few drives, even after a blocked punt by Joe Frazier put them inside the Saegertown 20.
The Panthers capitalized on Youngsville’s missed opportunities, as Shane McClinton scored on a 6-yard run midway through the second quarter to make it 7-6.
That score held until the halfway mark in the third, when a McClinton interception set up a 2-yard scored by Tony Offi, who went over 100 yards on the ground. The two-point conversion made it 14-7 Saegertown.
Their momentum was short-lived, however, thanks to Kesterholt.
The senior speedster made a couple of moves and hit a crease on the ensuing kickoff, racing 79 yards for a touchdown.
The 2-point conversion failed, but Youngsville had the momentum back.
“I was able to catch it off the bounce, there was a hole my teammates made, I made a few moves and we got a touchdown,” he said.
Chase couldn’t have been happier for one of his leaders’ big game on his 18th birthday.
“I feel great for him,” he said. “He’s been with me for the last two years. He’s put on the size and he has more heart than anybody. He’s not as vocal as some of the other guys, but he is a leader on this team and it means the world to me to watch him play like he did.”
The Eagles defense did its job, and they had a chance to take the lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter, as a Horner to Kesterholt connection put the ball on the 1. The eighth turnover of the night came on a bad snap, however, and they were temporarily stymied.
“The only thing I was thinking at that point is ‘why?” noted Chase. “Why do we have to turn the ball over there when we have a chance to go up. But that just shows the character of this team. They just kept at it.”
Added Kesterholt: “Always the next play. We always have each other’s backs.”
The defense forced another stop, led by Dylan Burt and Mason Benjamin, among many, and three plays after that Rugar was in the end zone.
It was a night for celebration, to be sure and now the Eagles go into Eisenhower week with a bit of momentum.
“It’s time to hunker down,” Chase said. “Saegertown played with a lot of heart and a lot of class and Eisenhower is going to bring it. It’s a big rivalry. We have to strap on our shoulder pads tighter this week and get ready to go.”
Saegerotown 0 6 8 0 14
Youngsville 7 0 6 6 19
1st downs 8 7
Rushes-Yards 15(minus)20 44-163
Comp-Att. 12-21 1-3
Passing Yards 177 9
Interceptions by 0 4
Total Yards 157 172
Fumbles-Lost 5-4 5-1
Y Kesterholt 3 pass from Horner (Hendrickson kick) 8:32
S McClinton 6 run (Conversion failed) 6:02
S Offi 2 run (Offi 2-point run) 6:30
Y Kesterholt 79 kick return (PAT Blocked) 6:16
Y Rugar 46 pass from Horner (Conversion failed) 2:12
Youngsville: Myers 5-9, Burt 3-4, Horner 3-(minus) 15, Team 4-(minus)22; Saegertown: Offi 20-135, McClinton 11-52, Posego 7-42, Team 6-(minus)66
Youngsville: Horner 9-of-15, 157 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; Myers 3-of-6, 20 yards, 2 INTs; Saegertown: Offi 1-of-3, 9 yards
Youngsville: Rugar 5-109, Kesterholt 5-33, Myers 1-12, Horner 1-10; Saegertown: Posego 1-9