Highland Stingers fall short in UYFL title game
The Highland Stingers scored on two lengthy drives in the second half.
But it wasn’t quite enough as quarterback Evan Schesler of Pine-Richland scored a touchdown with 44 seconds left to win the United Youth Football League 110-pound division title Saturday afternoon at Shaler’s Lou Martig Stadium.
A 2-yard keeper by Highland quarterback Antonio Perkins had given the Stingers their first lead of the game with 3 minutes, 53 seconds remaining. Schesler, however, had enough time to direct the final Pine-Richland scoring drive in eight plays, skirting left end for a 15-yard run to give the Green (11-0) the crown.
“It was a tough game,” Highland coach Dickie Shaffer said. “They went undefeated, and they’re very good. We knew we could hang with them, though. It was heart-wrenching for our guys, but it was a great game.”
Highland finished the season at 9-2, with both losses coming to Pine-Richland.
Down 16-6 at the half, the Stingers staged a 10-play drive with Perkins scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 1:20 to go in the third quarter. In one sequence, Perkins eluded at least six green jerseys.
Five plays later, Caleb Davis recovered a Pine-Richland fumble at his 44. A 15-yard run by Lamont Bonneau set up a Perkins 2-yard carry.
“These kids have a lot heart,” Shaffer said about sustaining drives in the 7/8-year-old division. “They work hard during the week in practice. We run and try to get them in the best shape we can.”
It looked like the Green would score on its third play from scrimmage. Rhett Valenty broke loose and was caught from behind by Perkins, who stripped the ball. Highland recovered the fumble and took possession at the Stingers 8.
But Perkins fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone for a Pine-Richland safety.
Valenty was a force on defense throughout the day and tallied a two-point conversion after Schesler’s second touchdown.
In the UYFL, a conversion run from the 3 is worth one point and two points from the 5.
The game was played on the artificial turf of Martig Stadium. Shaler Area school board member Jim Tunstall said the field is able to be used more often.
“This game couldn’t have been played here on natural grass,” Tunstall said as the rain fell Saturday. “Now, we can have (youth) games like this, soccer and other activities here.”
Perkins finished with 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“He’s a beast,” Shaffer said of Perkins. “He’s unstoppable and played a heckuva game. We just fell short.”
Schesler had 152 yards and three scores for Pine-Richland.