PURCHASE LINE — It took nearly four hours, six lead changes and six overtimes for Penns Manor coach Bill Packer to finally secure his 100th career coaching victory.
“Boy, they really made me sweat it out,” Packer said. “It’s not exactly the way we had it drawn up. But I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
Quarterback Jimmy Lightner’s 4-yard touchdown pass, his second of the season and the game, to Tommy Hamilton on a fourth-down play just before 11 p.m. Friday capped the Comets’ stirring 42-36 victory over Purchase Line in a game that was scoreless at halftime.
It was the longest overtime game ever among area teams, eclipsing the Red Dragons’ five-overtime, 54-48 win over Blairsville in 2015.
The play-call for the winning touchdown was suggested by Hamilton, who lined up on the opposite side of the other wideouts in the four-receiver set.
“Tommy kept saying the quick slant was there,” Packer said. “We didn’t run it the (previous) time. He wanted it and we figured we were going to do it.
“Jimmy threw a nice ball and it was a heck of a catch by Tommy.”
Hamilton cradled the ball in the end zone despite being guarded closely.
“Jimmy threw a perfect ball, it couldn’t have been any better,” Hamilton said.
The throw was a bit of redemption for Lightner, who had been intercepted three times, including twice by cornerback Cameron Yoder, who also had 12 tackles.
Lightner’s first touchdown toss of the year came on an 18-yarder rollout pass to running back Matt Somogyi on another fourth-down play in the third overtime. Somogyi’s two-point conversion run gave the Comets a 36-28 lead.
“We just had to keep pushing the whole game, we had to persevere in all the overtimes,” Lightner said. “That was a real fun game.”
The win not only helped Packer reach a milestone in his second attempt — the Comets lost to West Shamokin the previous week, 14-6 in overtime — it pushed Penns Manor (4-3) above the .500 mark in the Heritage Conference.
Despite being flagged for 17 penalties for 124 yards, hard-luck Purchase Line (1-6) squandered a handful of chances to win the game.
The first chance came late in regulation when quarterback Jacob Barnett scored his second rushing touchdown on a 4-yard run with 16.4 seconds left.
The run tied the game at 14-14, but Barnett was stuffed on a sneak on the two-point conversion try, and the teams headed to overtime.
After trading three touchdowns each from Cullen Goncher and Somogyi in the first three overtimes, plus a pair of two-point conversions, Purchase Line held Penns Manor on downs in the fourth and fifth extra sessions.
In their portion of the fifth overtime, Josh Syster scored on a 4-yard run around right end, setting off a temporary victory celebration. But the play was called back for an illegal block in the back and the hosts weren’t able to convert on a fourth-and-14.
“At that moment, we thought we had it, but the ref saw something and called it back,” Yoder said.
“It came down to who wanted it more. We both fought until the end until Hamilton caught that last pass. It was rough on our guys. It tears you apart.”
Purchase Line coach Matt Falisec accepted the blame for the loss.
“I apologized to the kids,” he said. “We didn’t deserve to lose that game. That’s the coaches’ fault. We got to overtime, we started overthinking everything. I made some bad calls.
“We should have had the game won at the end of the fourth quarter when we scored with 16 seconds left.”
Barnett, who also scored on a 64-yard run, led all rushers with 183 yards on 30 carries.
“Barnett showed some speed,” Falisec said. “We’ve been working the option a lot and they we’re having trouble defending it.”
Goncher was limited to 40 yards on 13 rushes, but scored on overtime runs of 4, 10 and 12 yards. He added 16 tackles on defense for the Red Dragons, who outgained the Comets 292-235 in total offense.
Purchase Line visits United next week.
“I told the kids to keep their heads up,” Falisec said. “They played hard.”
Somogyi had 130 yards on 25 carries and five touchdowns for Penns Manor, which will host Marion Center next week.
Somogyi scored on runs of 2 and 3 yards in regulation. In overtime, he had a pair of 1-yard scoring runs and snagged a touchdown toss from Lightner.
Packer improved to 100-52 in 14 seasons as the Comets’ coach.
“I’m happy for the kids,” he said. “That’s a big win for them.”