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Never-Say-Die Attitude Brings Victory in Flag Football

“It was cold. No, forget that – it was bitter cold,” Jeremy R. Bottorf said as he recapped the Penn College intramural flag football team’s Thursday road matchup with Lock Haven University. Looking to get revenge for last year’s loss at LHU, Penn College rallied in a 34-33 stunner. “This time, the team was new, younger, quicker, more explosive, and, in the end, that proved to be the difference,” said the coordinator of intramural sports and campus recreation.

Flag football squad claims a road win.
Flag football squad claims a road win.

Penn College wasted no time, scoring on its first possession after Tyler Cooklin connected on a pass to Jared Mahaffey during the first few minutes of the game. The point-after attempt was no good and, on its own first possession, Lock Haven also scored. That extra-point attempt failed, too, and the game was tied at 6.

Penn College turned over the ball on downs and LHU capitalized to go up 12-6, then succeeded on a two-point conversion attempt to extend its lead. Penn College rallied the troops and scored on its next possession, as Cooklin connected on another pass to Mahaffey to cut the lead to 14-12. Once again, the point-after attempt failed and Penn College still found itself down by 2.

LHU couldn’t be stopped on its next possession, either, and scored. The point-after attempt was no good, however, and the score remained 20-12 with a minute left in the first half. Penn College urgently tried to get more points before the half … and was successful when Cooklin connected on a deep pass to Jalile Best as time expired. The point-after attempt was no good, but Penn College found itself only down 20-18.

Lock Haven picked up where it left off after a halftime shortened by below-freezing conditions, striking again to go up 26-18. After adding the point after, LHU held a commanding 27-18 lead. Penn College was down, but never out: Cooklin connected to Mahaffey (again) for a touchdown and now only trailed 27-24. Penn College attempted the two-point conversion … and converted! LHU now only led 27-26 midway through the second half. However, as it had during the rest of the game, LHU struck again on its next possession, but this time the point-after attempt was no good and the score remained 33-26.

Winter headgear was in order during chilly contest.
Winter headgear was in order during chilly contest.

Penn College couldn’t move the ball and lost it on downs. Then, out of nowhere, the team’s defense woke up and sacked the Lock Haven quarterback three times in one possession. The defense had some sacks in the first half, but Lock Haven still managed to score; however, this time, LHU had no answer for the Penn College defense and the visitors got the ball back with 40 seconds left in the game and still trailing 33-26.

After a key first down, Cooklin took to the air with a touchdown pass to Rantz Mahaffey that pulled Penn College within 1! The dreaded extra-point attempt was the only thing standing between Penn College and overtime.

“However, when Penn College lined up for the extra point, it was announced they were going for two points and the win,” Bottorf said. “Cooklin connected on a rifle pass to Rantz Mahaffey in the back of the end zone. The catch looked like something you would see on ESPN’s top plays; both benches went crazy when Mahaffey held onto the ball and gave Penn College a 34-33 lead with 11 seconds remaining in the game.” The Penn College defense again rose to the challenge and sacked the opposing quarterback on the first two plays, and an incomplete desperation throw sealed the deal to give Penn College the win.

Comprising the Penn College roster (in addition to Cooklin, Best and the Mahaffeys) were Matt Demillio, Steven Moon, Dylan Bennett, Jeremy Rall, Dilon Scaringi, William Wyatt, Anthony Jennings and Gabriel Nepita-Mejia.

Photos and game summary by Bottorf