Schuylkill Valley beats Upper Perkiomen in high school football on touchdown with 1:11 left

Sep. 1—It was a thrilling finish at Leesport Thursday night.

Kowen Gerner caught a 33-yard pass from Logan Nawrocki with 1:11 left to lift Schuylkill Valley to a 22-19 victory over Upper Perkiomen in a non-league football game.

The Panthers took over down 19-14 with 1:55 left with one final opportunity to get a go-ahead touchdown.

With pose and composure, that is exactly what they did.

Nawrocki threw an incompletion on first down and took a sack on second.

On third down, after Nawrocki dropped back and threw a deep pass down the right side, he was hit late and high, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty.

With a fresh set of downs at the Indians' 33-yard line, Nawrocki threw a perfect spiral to Gerner on a stop-and-go route, which ended with a party in the end zone.

"It felt really great," Gerner said on the game-winning touchdown. "When I was in the end zone and my whole team came running at me it was the greatest feeling ever."

On the ensuing drive, the Indians (0-2) got one first down before turning it over on downs.

Nawrocki then was able to kneel down to wrap up the victory in the Panthers' home opener.

It was a heart-stopping finish to a game that started off sluggishly on offense for both teams.

"I keep telling the kids, 'You win football games with good blocking and tackling' and we were not doing that in the first half," Panthers coach Bruce Harbach said.

It was not until late in the second quarter that both teams came alive.

The Indians got on the board first with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Logan O'Donnell to Tucker Ruch two minutes into the second quarter.

Schuylkill Valley's next possession ended in a bad snap on a punt that left Upper Perkiomen inside the Panthers' 20-yard line.

However, Schuylkill Valley stood strong and stopped a goal line opportunity.

That led to a six-play drive that resulted in a Dominic Giuffre 4-yard touchdown run to tie it at 7-7.

"We started off a little rocky," Giuffre said. "But we broke out in space and got free."

The Indians answered with a quick 16-yard touchdown pass from O'Donnell to Aidan Void.

That duo connected once more in the third quarter from 10 yards to finish off a seven-minute, 11-play drive and put the Indians up 13-7.

With one minute remaining in the half, Nawrocki led the Panthers (1-1) downfield, completing 3-of-3 passes for 59 yards, including a 10-yarder to Giuffre that gave Schuylkill Valley a 14-13 halftime lead.

After the Panthers stalled offensively again in the third quarter, they had an opportunity to take the lead midway through the fourth.

While in Indians territory, Nawrocki threw his second interception, Zach Saegar making the pick over the middle with 4:05 left.

"It felt crappy because I thought I lost us the game," Nawrocki said.

However, the Panthers did not let their quarterback get down.

"Game wasn't over," Giuffre said.

The Panthers' star running back was right as their defense forced an Indians three-and-out.

"Years ago they would have hung their heads and walked off with a loss," Harbach said of the late turnover. "These guys didn't quit. ... I'm proud of them."

Nawrocki completed 12-of 23 passes for 223 yards, and Guiffre had 129 total yards and two touchdowns on 20 touches. He caught six passes for 87 yards and had 14 carries for 42 yards.

For the Indians, Brody Weiss had 114 yards on 28 carries. O'Donnell completed 8-of-19 passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns.

Schuylkill Valley will host Susquenita on Sept. 8 in a non-league matchup. Upper Perkiomen will host Fleetwood on Sept 8 in a non-leaguer.