Leechburg holds off Springdale in ’emotional’ victory

Saturday, October 26, 2019 | 1:24 AM

Last year, Leechburg defeated Springdale to cap its first non-losing season since 1991.

The Blue Devils faced a similar scenario at home Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium as they needed to beat the Dynamos to finish at .500.

The Eastern Conference rivals lit up the scoreboard throughout the 48 minutes, and in the end, Leechburg held on for a 50-43 senior-night victory.

“This is a feeling of intense enjoyment,” said Jake Blumer, one of 13 Blue Devils seniors who were able to celebrate a victory in their final home game.

“We wanted to come out here and get this victory, and we worked so hard all week to prepare. Everyone was pretty emotional after the game. When (the seniors) took that last lap around the field, it just meant everything to us.”

Leechburg finished 5-5 overall and clinched fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-3 mark.

“It was good to see us score that many points, but I just wished we didn’t commit as many penalties as we did,” Leechburg coach Mark George said.

“Springdale had all the fight in the world. They just kept coming back. But our kids didn’t give up, either. They had the fight and the desire to win.”

Leechburg converted five Springdale turnovers into 36 points.

Blue Devils’ junior Dalton Hamm recovered a fumbled Springdale punt at the Dynamos’ 15 with 8:43 left, and senior Alex Stramaski scored from 1-yard out three plays into the ensuing drive. Dylan Cook and Jake Blumer hooked up on the 2-point conversion, and Leechburg, ahead 50-28, appeared to have put the game away with 7:34 on the clock.

But Springdale didn’t go away.

Dynamos quarterback Dmitri Fritch found wideout Logan Dexter for the second time in the fourth quarter, this time from 8 yards with 4:14 remaining. A Vokes 2-point conversion run cut the deficit to 14.

Springdale recovered an onside kick and went to work again. The Dynamos capped a quick 5-play drive as Vokes went in from 1 yard with 2:40 to play. A Matt Haus point-after kick closed the gap to seven.

A second onside kick didn’t work in the Dynamos’ favor, however, and Leechburg recovered at the Springdale 45.

Blumer and the Leechburg offense picked up one first down, and with the Dynamos out of timeouts, the Blue Devils took a knee to run out the rest of the time and secure the victory.

“That was a tough one,” said Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski, whose team was denied in its attempt to win seven games in a season for the first time since 2011. The Dynamos were 2-8 last year.

“I told the guys after the game that we turned the ball over five or six times and still scored 43 points. That’s kind of unheard of. A number of them were deep in our own territory which gave Leechburg short fields. Against a good team like Leechburg, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes. Give them credit for capitalizing on them. The guys kept battling. We just didn’t have enough time left at the end of the game.”

Blumer finished with 160 rushing yards and touchdown runs of 1, 11 and 60 yards. He had 124 yards in the second half.

He fell 18 yards shy of 1,000 for the season.

“Jake has been a workhorse for us,” George said. “He just went out and played football on both sides of the ball at a high level each time.”

Cook added 109 passing yards and a touchdown to senior Anthony Mangee, and he also had a pair of 1-yard scores.

Fritch threw for 147 yards and the two touchdowns and added a rushing TD, Dexter caught four passes for 72 yards, and Vokes rushed for 106 yards and three scores.

“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a dogfight,” Blumer said. “We had to fight to the end. It was a good game between the teams. I couldn’t have ask for a better ending.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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