By Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan
|Dejection and confusion characterized the Lycoming sideline after the two-minute wait for the officials' final decision.
Photo by Pat Coleman, D3sports.com
CHESTER, Pa. — For the second time in as many weeks, Widener's Mike deMarteleire completed a pass in overtime to lift the No. 6 Pioneers to a Middle Atlantic Conference victory, a bizarre 20-14 triumph against No. 8 Lycoming at Quick Stadium.
On a day in which Mike Warker completed just seven of 30 passes and neither team scored a point in the first half, it took an overtime reminiscent of Central's "Miracle in the Mud" 2000 playoff victory against Linfield to decide the game.
After Lycoming (4-1, 4-1) was held without a first down in its half of overtime, Widener (4-0, 4-0) lined up to attempt a 38-yard field goal. Carl Schoenman's kick was blocked behind the line of scrimmage by Lycoming's Brian Bond, and deMarteleire, the holder, picked up the ball and in the process of being tackled for a loss, threw a shovel pass to wide receiver Bo Fischer, who ran into the end zone uncontested for the game-winning score.
The officials conferred for several minutes before coming to the center of the field and making a touchdown signal.
"I do believe the refs made the right call," said Widener head coach Bill Zwaan, "[deMarteleire] threw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage. But the fact that you never see a play like that, of course everyone's going to question it. Nobody deserves to lose a football game like that."
"As soon as we blocked the thing, my mind was going directly to offense," said Lycoming head coach Frank Girardi, "the first down call. ... The amount of emotion in the last two minutes of that ballgame was enough for a lifetime."
It was a defensive matchup in the first half as Widener and Lycoming entered the locker room scoreless and combined for only seven first downs and 119 yards of total offense. Lycoming had produced four first downs to Widener's three and Widener produced 77 yards on 29 plays while Lycoming had picked up 42 yards on 33 plays.
The second half saw the two teams trade touchdowns, each team scoring once in each of the final two frames. Lycoming struck first in the third quarter, scoring on its first possession of the second half. Tim Schmidt had intercepted Mike Warker, who went 7-for-30 for 132 yards, at the 35-yard line and returned it to Widener's 48-yard line. Six plays later, Roger Kreutzer completed a 17-yard pass to Ray Withelder, and Dave Christensen's extra point gave the visitors a 7-0 lead with 11:47 left to play.
After forcing Lycoming to punt from its own 6-yard line, Widener took possession at the Lycoming 36-yard line. The seven-play drive that resulted in a 4-yard Warker touchdown pass to Luther Bowen with 5:31 left in the third was aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty on Lycoming.
Lycoming capitalized on Warker's second interception of the game. Schmidt picked off his second pass of the afternoon and this time returned the ball 42 yards, and a face mask penalty set the ball up on the Widener 9 with 12:05 left in the fourth. It took Lycoming just three plays to reach the end zone as Kreutzer hit Jon Neve for a 5-yard touchdown with 10:23 left to play.
deMarteleire returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards, setting Widener up at the Lycoming 48-yard line. Warker completed a 39-yard pass to Bowen, and then kept the ball for the 9-yard touchdown with 9:47 left to even up the score.
Christensen, who had previously nailed both extra point attempts, faced a 26-yard field goal from the left hash with 4:32 remaining and missed the go-ahead score going wide to the left. Widener went three-and-out, turning the ball back over to Lycoming with 3:30 left to play, but got the ball right back as Fran Golden intercepted Kreutzer.
Widener then pushed the ball to the 27-yard line and opted to pass on fourth down but Warker was incomplete. Lycoming then took a knee, forcing the game into the extra session.
Lycoming's drive was ended on its fourth-down play as Bill Walsh intercepted Kreutzer. Widener took over and also faced a fourth-down situation, setting up the field goal.
Widener held Lycoming to 199 yards of total offense, including 45 on the ground to a team that was ranked 15th in Division III in the offensive category. Widener was held to its lowest offensive production of the season with 206 yards on 64 plays.
Kreutzer completed 13 of 29 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked six times for losses of 60 yards. Jared Morris led Lycoming's ground game with 65 yards on 24 attempts.
Bowen led all Widener receivers with three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.