KNOX, Pa. – For the second straight week Port Allegany found itself with its back to the wall in the fourth quarter trailing, and for the second straight week the Gators found a way to win.
Rewatch the game
Visiting Port trailed Keystone 10-8 midway through the fourth quarter only to cause a pair of Keystone turnovers late that led to back-to-back touchdowns in a 20-8 victory that secured the D9 Football League Region 2 crown.
“I give a lot of credit to everyone on the team,” Blaine Moses, who was named the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game, said. “In practice we are working, they are working, to make us better. We really stressed all week getting off the bus. Long trip. Can’t make an excuse. We had our backs against the wall, and we knew we would have to grind and find a way.”
Watch Moses’ full postgame interview
The first big play for the Gators (8-1) came with just under six minutes to play and Keystone facing a third-and-6 at its own 48-yard line.
Drew Keth dropped back to pass but was under heavy pressure when Braylon Button strip-sacked him and Moses recovered at the Panthers’ 49. Button split Keystone left tackle Cole Henry and left guard Brock Champluvier on his way to Keth.
Two plays later, Drew Evens found a streaking Noah Archer over the middle at around the 30-yard line, and Archer made a cut at the 15-yard line to avoid a Keystone defender before taking it the house for a Gators’ touchdown and a 14-10 lead.
“I saw that they didn’t really have a safety over top,” Archer said. “They had the linebacker over top of me. I thought if I could just hit that lane, and if Drew could see me, to the promise land.”
Watch Archer (along with Moses) discuss the game further in the postgame
On Keystone’s next possession, Evens stepped in front of a Keth pass and intercepted it at the Keystone 37 returning it to the 33.
The Panthers’ defense stiffened and thought it had held when an Evens’ third-down pass was incomplete. But Keystone was called for pass interference on the play.
The 15-yard penalty wasn’t enough for a first down, but it did give Port Allegany a third-and-2. Keystone kept the Gators short on third down, but on fourth-and-centimeters Moses plowed ahead for a first down to the 21.
On the next play, Archer took an option pitch down the far sideline for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead with 2:43 to play.
Keystone struck first on a 37-yard Kyle Nellis touchdown run midway through the first quarter to make it 7-0.
Port Allegany answered right back mixing the pass and the run to go 65 yards scoring on a 1-yard Moses dive followed by a Moses 2-point conversion run to make it 8-7 Gators.
Keystone (5-4) answered early in the second quarter when Josh Beal hit a 26-yard field goal to give the Panthers the lead back, 10-8.
Evens was 15 of 29 for 179 yards, a touchdown, and an interception for Port Allegany with Archer catching five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown and adding six carries for 37 yards and a score. Peyton Stiles grabbed seven balls for 59 yards.
Nellis ran 19 times for 103 yards for Keystone with Aidan Sell adding 10 carries for 48 yards.
Moses was all over the field on defense with 18 tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception while also rushing six times for 18 yards and a touchdown.
Miska Young added 10 tackles and a sack for the Gators.
Keth had an interception for Keystone.
Both teams close out the regular season next week. Port Allegany is at Otto-Eldred and Keystone is at Moniteau.