WINDBER — The Windber Ramblers shook off injuries to key players and rallied for a 34-28 District 5 Class A football quarterfinal playoff victory over Tussey Mountain Friday.
The teams traded scores throughout the game, with the sixth-seeded Titans (5-6) taking a 26-24 lead with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Tussey Mountain took advantage of a Windber turnover. The Titans needed four plays to get it from the Ramblers 23. Mitchell Corbin blew through a hole and in from five yards out. The PAT was good for the lead.
The third-seeded Ramblers (9-2) drove 80 yards on 11 plays to regain the lead. They mixed the run and pass on the drive, with Dakota Gipe completing three of five passes on the drive after being out most of the first half with a shoulder and elbow injury. On a third-and-nine from the 18, Dan Tomlinson rushed for a first down to the eight. He picked up another four yards before Mike Barbe finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. The two-point pass play was caught by Zack Toth to set the score with 29 seconds remaining in the contest.
"That drive was all the players," head coach Matt Grohal said. "I put them in position to make plays and they did. It started with the screen play where we got 31 yards and it set the tone for the drive. We had them on their heels and kept them there with Mike scoring that touchdown. This guys are resilient. We're in it, and then it comes down to the last team with the ball and we pulled it out. I'm so proud to be the coach of these guys."
Tussey Mountain had a chance to win it with 29 seconds left in the game after Windber executed a squib kick that was returned for prime field position at their 47. Eric Husick hit Darrin Sipes with a 40-yard pass play to the Windber 13. The Ramblers knocked down two pass attempts to end the game.
"We just ran out of time," Tussey head coach Josh Smith said. "If we had another 10 seconds, I think we would have punched it in and taken the game. We could have packed it in with 29 seconds left, but we rallied and had a chance to win it, we just didn't."
Tussey scored first. Tyler Husick went in from a yard out and the Stephen Carroll kick was good for a 7-0 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
Windber countered with a six-play drive capped by a Jacob Podrasky 43-yard pass play to Matt Barkley for the touchdown. The Ramblers went for two because long snapper (and running back) Dustin Blough sat out of the game with a concussion.
The play failed and the Ramblers trailed 7-6.