Oct. 16—Leading by five midway through the fourth quarter, the Exeter defense faced a crucial fourth down.
Berks Catholic needed just 2 yards for a first down, but the Eagles defensive line stuffed the play in the backfield for no gain.
Exeter proceeded to milk the clock and score the game-sealing touchdown for a 33-21 win over the Saints in a Berks Football League Section 1 matchup in Reading.
"Their tenacity is unmatched," Exeter coach Matt Bauer said about his players. "[After] the fourth-down stop, we knew at that point we had to put it on our offensive line."
That offensive line was stout late in the game, creating running lanes for fullback Tyler Yocum and running back Eric Nangle, who methodically led Exeter (2-1, 5-3) down the field before Yocum punched his way into the end zone with just over a minute to go. The drive against Berks Catholic (2-1, 5-3) featured lots of inside handoffs and lasted roughly half the fourth quarter.
Yocum finished with 29 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Nangle served as the Eagles' workhorse, carrying the ball 27 times for 129 yards and a touchdown.
"Yocum obviously is the heart and soul of the team," Bauer said. "Eric [Nangle] ran it very well as well."
Exeter trailed 21-20 at the end of the third quarter, but quickly regained the lead as quarterback Colin Payne connected with Joey Schlaffer on a 28-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing two-point conversion try was no good.
"They worked so hard, they fought so hard and they wouldn't be denied," Bauer said. "We had kids making plays all over the field."
Payne finished 8-for-17 passing for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, Exeter held the Saints to just a few big plays. Quarterback Mitchell Gatz connected with running back Josiah Jordan on a 75-touchdown pass in the second quarter, and Jordan also scored on a 22-yard touchdown run in the third.
Jordan, a junior, finished with 56 yards rushing, 101 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Gatz completed just four passes — three of which were to Jordan — for 104 yards.
"That's a very good football team we just beat," Bauer said about Berks Catholic. "And it feels darn good."
Both quarterbacks threw three interceptions. The Eagles were 2-for-2 on fourth-down conversions, while the Saints were 0-for-1.
"Our kids really wanted it tonight," Bauer said. "I challenged them to see if we could want it more than they did. And I think they answered the call tonight."