JOHNSTOWN — On a night that junior running back Ryan Hoyt eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, a pair of controversial calls in the closing seconds of Friday’s game thwarted Johnstown’s bid for a spot in the Section II Class C postseason tournament.
Down by three with 2:48 left in regulation, the Sir Bills drove from their own 34-yard line to the Ichabod Crane 12. Johnstown quarterback Jack Miller lofted a pass to the far corner of the end zone with 10.9 seconds left, only to have the play blown dead with an offensive pass interference call. Now on the Riders’ 27, Miller again fired the ball toward the end zone, but the intended receiver tripped and the ball fell into the end zone as time expired, giving Ichabod Crane a 28-25 victory as a spot in the postseason tournament.
“I am absolutely proud of this team,” Johnstown coach Paul Furman said. “They have done things this year. They believe in the staff, they believe in themselves and they believe in the training. They have not gone away in any of the games this year. Any game we lost this year they did not go away until that clock struck zero. That is all I can ask of them. They put themselves in a position to win the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t roll our way.”
Hoyt, who scored three touchdowns, came into Friday night’s contest with 919 rushing yards to his credit and added 150 yards to his stats to bring his total to 1,069.
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“He is coming up on the school record for a single season which is 1205,” Furman said. “It may be the consolation prize since we didn’t get to go to the playoffs. It makes a huge statement for this team and this offense for him to break a record like that in a program that is as historic as Johnstown.”
The Sir Bills struck first, with Miller hitting Hoyt with a swing pass he carried 22 yards into the end zone. Braeden Jones kicked the extra point for a quick 7-0 lead.
Ichabod Crane answered in the closing seconds of the opening quarter, with Zion Evans scampering 16 yards for the touchdown and a 7-6 score at the end of the quarter.
The Riders took advantage of a Johnstown turnover midway through the second quarter with Austin Race capping off a 66 yard drive with a 13-yard run and Evans running the 2-point conversion in for a 14-7 Ichabod Crane lead.
Andrew Lake returned the ensuing kickoff to the Johnstown 40 and, two plays later, Hoyt sprinted 58 yards for the touchdown. A failed extra point attempt left the score at 14-13 in favor of the Riders.
Johnstown retook the lead with 1:14 left in the half when Miller hit Brandon Frank for a 19-yard touchdown pass to put the Sir Bills up 19-14.
The Riders again answered the score, with Race hitting Nolan Space from 13 yards out, and Race ran the 2-point conversion in for a 22-19 Ichabod Crane halftime advantage.
The Riders opened the second half with what appeared to be a 63-yard touchdown run by Race on the first play from scrimmage, only to have the ball called back for a holding call.
Ichabod Crane kept the ball on the ground, chewing up yardage and time, but failed to score as the Sir Bills put on a goal-line stand with Adam Sweet stopping Race in the backfield to give the Sir Bills their only possession of the third quarter starting at their own eight yard line.
The possession lasted just over two minutes before the Riders stopped Johnstown and took over on downs at the Johnstown 32 and held their 22-19 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
“We could see what they were doing,” Furman said. “They started having success running the ball. They would bring it out then bring it back in. They had a pattern and we say it. We called up blitzes to bring up the pressure and make a big play. Then they would get a big play. Their plan was clear that they were going to chew up that clock and make it so that we didn’t have an opportunity to score.”
Ichabod Crane extended its lead early in the fourth quarter with Race finding Dylan McCrudden in the end zone for a 2-yard scoring strike and a 28-19 lead.
The Sir Bills closed the gap with Hoyt breaking around the outside for a 50-yard touchdown run, cutting the Riders’ lead to 28-25 with 6:08 left to play.
The Sir Bills defense held Ichabod Crane, setting up the potential game-winning drive that came up short.
“The players had certain goals, and making the playoffs was one of them,” Furman said. “It was a huge goal for this team. Going into next year with a lot of juniors, this is huge. They just need to continue to believe in what we have done this season, continue to work and build on it. But the season is still not over. We still have two more games, no matter what. They have a fire in their belly and hopefully a chip on their shoulder. Hopefully all offseason they remember this game and keep working. I don’t want to starting looking too far ahead because we still have two more games and hopefully they take this same attitude these next two games and send us off into the off season on the right note.”
Ichabod Crane 6 16 0 6 — 28
Johnstown 7 12 0 6 — 25
J — Hoyt 22 pass from Miller (Jones kick)
IC — Evans 16 run (Kick failed)
IC — Race 13 run (Evans run)
J — Hoyt 58 run (Kick failed)
J — Frank 19 pass from Miller (Run failed)
IC — Space 13 pass from Race (Race run)
IC — McCrudden 2 pass from Race (Kick blocked)
J — Hoyt 50 run (Pass failed)
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