TITUSVILLE, Pa. – A year ago, Cambridge Springs came up just short in a District 10 semifinal loss to Eisenhower.
In Saturday’s semifinal, the Blue Devils came up big as Morgan Applebee connected with Preston Gorton for a 22-yard touchdown with 26 seconds to play to lift Cambridge Springs to a 22-20 win over Eisenhower.
Rewatch the game:
Down 20-16 and facing a fourth-and-12 Applebee took the shotgun snap and rolled to his right. He stepped up to avoid pressure and hit Gorton just outside the 5-yard line. Gorton tried to avoid a tackle, got wrapped up, but was able to extend the ball across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
See the game-winning play:
“Coach made the right call and the pass came right to my hands and I took it to the house,” Gorton said in his Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview. “When I saw the goal line, I had to reach for it. I wanted to score so bad”
See Gorton’s full Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview:
Gorton finished with 111 total yards and two touchdowns to earn Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game honors. He said the loss in last year’s playoff game made Saturday’s victory even more special.
“I was just so happy,” Gorton said. “I couldn’t believe it. Last year we were just short and this year we came up with it.”
The Blue Devils had to score twice in the final 8:36 to get the victory. After Eisenhower took a 20-8 lead, Cambridge Springs marched down the field in 2:30. Josh Gorton finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, and Preston Gorton ran in the conversion to cut the lead to 20-16.
Cambridge Springs’ defense forced Eisenhower to punt with just over 3:30 to play setting up the game-winning drive.
What turned into a defensive slugfest initially looked as though it would be an offensive display as both teams scored on their opening possession.
Eisenhower took the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards in 6:45 to take the early lead. Shawn Pascuzzi capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to put the Knights in front, 7-0.
Cambridge Springs answered right back with a drive that took less than three minutes. Brett Kania had 15 and 17-yard runs in the series, and Preston Gorton finished it with a 17-yard touchdown run. Tristen Mazzadra ran in the conversion to give the Blue Devils an 8-7 advantage.
Neither team scored again until midway through the third quarter.
The Knights used another long, methodical drive to retake the lead. Eisenhower got the ball for the first time in the second half at its own 35 and went 65 yards in 5:50.
On second down from the 18, Pascuzzi fielded a low snap and headed for the left side of the line. He ran into traffic but cut back inside and found a lane to the end zone to give the Knights a 14-8 lead.
After trading punts, the Knights got the ball back on their own 10. They moved the ball to the 49 with runs and a key personal foul penalty that gave them a first down on a third-and-long that was stopped short.
Pascuzzi dropped back on first down and hit Kris Bunk over the middle. Bunk ran away from Brandon Hoover and into the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, giving Eisenhower a 20-8 lead.
Pascuzzi was 2-6 passing for 81 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran 15 times for 58 yards and two scores.
Logan Penley led the ground game with 65 yards on 11 carries. Tucker Lindell ran 14 times for 61 yards. Ryan Chambers had a 30-yard reception that set up Eisenhower’s second touchdown.
Brett Kania had nine carries for 67 yards. Preston Gorton had nine carries for 46 yards and a score, and Josh Gorton had nine totes for 45 yards and a TD.
Applebee finished 8-14 passing for 99 yards and a score. Preston Gorton had five receptions for 65 yards and a TD.
The Blue Devils will face Lakeview, a 35-6 winner over Mercer in their semifinal, for the District 10 Class 1A title next week at a site and time to be announced. Lakeview handed Cambridge Springs its only loss this season.