Eisenhower rallies for dramatic win over Cochranton
There’s just something about the second half of Cochranton-Eisenhower football games.
A year after combining for 54 second-half points, the Cardinals and Knights lit it up in the final two stanzas again Friday night. This time, it was Eisenhower coming out on top.
Just one play after Colby Hagg came through with a fourth-down tackle for loss, Caleb Robinault hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Owen Trumbull to lift Eisenhower to a 21-14 win over visiting Cochranton. The score came on a play the Knights had been unable to take advantage of earlier in the game.
“That play was open all night,” Robinault said. “I knew if I got inside leverage they were not going to stop me.”
The play capped an impressive comeback as the Knights scored all 21 points in the final 4:30 of the game.
“Holy smokes,” Eisenhower coach Jim Penley said. “This is another new thing. We’ve scored quickly, but never 21 points in the final (five) minutes.”
After a sluggish first half, the teams combined for just 120 yards of total offense and no points, Cochranton (1-8 overall, 1-4 Region 2) wasted little time getting on the board in the third quarter. Jon Gallo burst through the middle on the third play from scrimmage and sprinted 31 yards to the endzone. Quarterback Wyatt Barzak connected with a wide-open Andrew McDonough for the 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Though Gallo came in as the team’s leading rusher, the touchdown run was just his second carry of the game.
“It was frustrating because we planned for it,” Penley said. “The guys knew it was coming.”
Following an Eisenhower (3-6, 3-2) punt, Cochranton went right back to work. The Cardinals turned to Gallo on five of the next six plays, then on first down from the Eisenhower 18, Barzak dropped back and found Kendrick Hostetler in the back of the end zone. The Knights stopped Kaden Tatters’ conversion run but trailed 14-0 heading to the fourth quarter.
“We made a lot of mistakes and had some uncharacteristic penalties,” Penley said.
The Knights took over at their own 43 after a fourth-down stop and drove down to the Cardinals 7. The Cochranton defense dug its heels in and got a fourth-down stop of its own.
Eisenhower forced a three-and-out and a Cochranton punt. On the snap, the Knights burst through the line, blocked the kick and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Jake Venman appeared to have split the uprights on the point after attempt, but the officials gathered and ruled the kick had missed left. That made it 14-6 with 4:25 to play.
The controversial call seemed to have lit a fire on the Eisenhower sideline.
“It definitely changed (things),” Penley said. “That was a major swing, but we knew we had to go get it.”
The Knights recovered the onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and, aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties, marched right back down the field.
Trumbull tumbled across the goal line on a quarterback sneak from the 1, then hit Dillon Benson for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14 with 1:53 to play.
Cochranton got a decent return on the kick and tried to run out the clock with Gallo. He gained nine yards on the first play, stumbled and lost three yards on second down and pushed forward for two on third down to set up a fourth-and-one at the Cardinals 42.
Eisenhower had used all its timeouts and a first down would have given Cochranton the opportunity to force overtime. As Gallo took the fourth down handoff, Hagg slipped through the line and wrapped Gallo up for a loss to set up the game-winning pass.
“They were just trying to test our sprits tonight,” Penley said. “To make that stop on defense just shows how much character they have. This kind of a win is huge, to show that level of maturity. We grew up tonight.”
Gallo had 69 yards on the ground, all in the second half.
Trumbull was 17-29 for 184 yards and a touchdown. Benson finished with seven catches for 60 yards, while Zane Alexander had five receptions for 58 and Robinault had three for 48 yards and the score.
The Knights now turn their attention to the postseason and a rematch with Reynolds. The Raiders won the regular-season game, 41-6, though they only held a 14-6 halftime advantage. The game will be played next Saturday at a time and location to be determined.
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OTTO-ELDRED 74, SHEFFIELD 30
DUKE CENTER, Pa. – Sheffield fell on the road at Otto-Eldred in their regular-season
The Wolverines finish the season with a record of 2-7.
Additional details were not provided by press time.