Bangor gets revenge in EC Championship
The Bangor Slaters looked to cap what they hope will be a turnaround season with an Eastern Conference championship. To do it, they had to beat Northwestern, which had shutout the Slaters 14-0 in the regular season.
This time around, points weren’t nearly as tough to come by, but the Tigers would have liked to have just a few more as they fell to Bangor 22-20.
Down eight points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers looked put together an 11-play drive that took just over six minutes off the clock and saw them convert two fourth-down plays late in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Lobach scored his second touchdown of the night with a one-yard run, making it a 22-20 game with 2:23 left to play. On the two-point conversion attempt, Josh Gornicz, playing at quarterback for the injured Deven Bollinger, threw to the goal line, but the ball went just off the fingertips of Lobach to fall incomplete.
The Northwestern defense stopped Bangor on the ensuing drive, but the Tigers got the ball back with just four seconds left in the game and completed a hook-and-lateral play, but the Slaters sniffed it out and cut it short before it could get too far, preserving the win and giving them the championship.
“This game was kind of like our whole season,” said coach Josh Snyder. “A lot of ups-and-downs, but the guys never quit, they never got down on themselves.”
It was the second season in a row that Northwestern lost in the Eastern Conference championship game, having lost last season at Blue Mountain. The Tigers finish 2017 at 4-7 overall on the season.
Northwestern took its first lead of the night on a six-yard touchdown run by Phil Dangello with 1:12 left in the first quarter. Hunter Miller’s extra point made it a 7-6 game, but later, Snyder, who is known for going for two-point conversions early in a game, lamented the fact that he took the extra point rather than going for the two-point conversion.
“I regret that now,” said Snyder. “I’d like to have that one back, because we might have had a better shot there, but that’s not the way that it works. We have two or three two-point conversion plays and we used one earlier and this one worked in that they were coming hard and we slipped the back out and the play was there, but we just couldn’t finish it.”
Lobach had a big night for Northwestern and he came up with a big fumble recovery that stopped a Bangor drive that would have put the Slaters back on top. Garrett DeBoer coughed up the football and Lobach fell on it on the Tigers 16-yard line. Northwestern turned the fumble into a score, going 84 yards on five plays, with a 53-yard run by Lobach capping off the drive and the Tigers were up 14-6.
The 53-yard run was the longest of the season for Northwestern, who hadn’t been able to put together a run from scrimmage longer than 21 yards prior to Lobach’s jaunt.
The two teams went to halftime tied 14-14 when DeBoer went in from a yard out and Myers then hit Dave Langdon with a short pass on the two-point conversion for the Slaters.
Northwestern was driving again on its first possession of the second half, but Gronicz was intercepted to give the Slaters the ball at their own 27-yard line. Bangor again put together a sustained drive and when they got in close, it was all DeBoer, who went in from a yard out to give Bangor a 22-14 edge with 28 seconds left to play in the third quarter.
The game started very aggressively, with Bangor being flagged for two personal fouls and an unsportsmanlike conduct. Northwestern was also called for a personal foul, all in the first 3:50 of the game. Things settled down after that and the only other penalty in the game was an encroachment call on the Slaters that gave Northwestern a first down on a third-and-five play from the Slaters 35-yard line.
Northwestern graduates just six seniors – Caleb Clymer, Phil Dangello, Dylan Frantz, Hunter Miller, Cameron Sanchez and Peter Yablonski – from this year’s team.
“These kids made it great to coach this team,” said Snyder. “They gave everything they could give and worked hard every time out for us and as a coach, you can’t ask for more than that.”