By Ethan Miller ‘23
The score after 1 quarter doesn’t matter. Neither does that at the half or after 3 quarters. As the Conestoga Valley Buckskins and the Garden Spot Spartans learned on Friday night in New Holland, the only score that matters is the final one. The Buckskins led, and trailed, and led again, and capped it off with a stunning overtime touchdown to win in walk-off fashion 41-35.
Conestoga Valley received the opening kickoff and marched down the field. 8 plays later, QB Macoy Kneisley found WR Jeff Fisher for a 26-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown to give the Bucks a 7-0 lead. After 2 strong defensive stops on the Spartans, the Bucks were back on the scoring train midway through the first quarter. On the first play of the drive, Senior RB Nick Tran bolted to the sidelines for an 82-yard scamper that energized the visitor grandstands and put the Buckskins on top 14-0.
Late in the first, Kneisley and the offense had a strong drive going once again, highlighted by a 42-yard pickup through the air to Ish Camacho, who had a dynamic night on offense. The passing play put them inside the red zone, but the drive stalled out with penalties and negative gains and culminated in an interception thrown by Kneisley. Garden Spot capitalized on the Buckskin turnover and scored their first points of the game to make it 14-7, CV.
5 plays later, the Buckskins regained their 14-point advantage thanks to their strong running back stable. Tran set the table for Camacho, who darted and weaved his way into the end zone with a phenomenal 32-yard touchdown. The Spartans answered with a field goal to make it 21-10 CV as time wound down in the first half, but the Buckskins and Tran weren’t finished. The senior halfback, already in triple digits in ground yards alone, broke off another long touchdown run, this time for 60 yards. CV went into the half leading 28-10 over the Spartans.
Garden Spot came out of the locker rooms a different team, and instituted a touch play-action ground game on offense that proved nearly impossible for the Buckskins defense to stop. Penalties mounted as the CV secondary and defensive line searched for answers to recreate their first half magic to no avail, and the Spartans quickly sliced up the Buckskin lead. It dwindled from 18 to 11, then from 11 to 4 while the offense sputtered. Spartan QB Kye Harting scored 2 touchdowns on the ground via the tricky play-action offense and, early in the fourth quarter, the Spartans completed the comeback and took the lead 35-28, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. The Buckskins, after having all the answers in the first half, looked lost.
CV traded possessions with Garden Spot until later in the fourth, where they mounted a comeback drive of their own. Nick Tran broke off a 35 yard run, followed by back-to-back completions by Kneisley to Camacho. Multiple Spartan penalties put the Buckskins inside the Garden Spot 20. 2 plays later, Kneisley found Camacho again for his second touchdown pass of the game, knotting it up at 35 with under 2 minutes remaining.
The Buckskin defense finally came up with a stop and gave the offense the ball back with less than a minute to go. CV mounted a drive into Spartan territory, but penalties, an issue for the Buckskins all night, doomed them once again. Kneisley’s Hail Mary as time expired was intercepted, and the game stayed tied. It was going to overtime.
Unlike the NFL, there’s no clock in high school overtime. Instead, each team gets a chance to score from a first-and-goal situation on their opponents’ ten-yard-line. 4 tries, whichever team is able to grab the advantage comes away the winner. Garden Spot went first, and Harting dropped back to pass. He faced immediate pressure and scrambled to his right, sprinting for the end zone. It appeared to be a surefire touchdown, but at the goal line, inches from breaking the plane into the end zone, the ball was wrenched free and recovered by the CV defense. With no replay, the call on the field stood and the Buckskins had a chance at a walk-off. Score a touchdown, and the win was theirs.
Nick Tran ran for a short 2 yard gain to the 8. The offense lined up again, second-and-goal this time. Once again, the handoff went to Tran and this time he burst through the line, into the end zone, giving the Buckskins 6 points and the win; no extra-point needed. CV won 41-35 in thrilling fashion.
The win moves the Buckskins to 2-1 on the season, giving the team real momentum. After a disappointing loss to open the season, they’ve now won 2 straight and the offense has tallied over 40 points per game during the span. They remain in third in Section 2, behind Exeter and Manheim Central who both are 3-0 on the year. CV will once again be on the road next Friday when they travel to face Warwick for the annual brawl between the Buckskins and Warriors, who are 1-2.
Members of both the Buckskins and Spartans huddle at midfield following the conclusion of the game (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller)
Player of the Week
There are so many players who could make a case for the POTW this week. Ish Camacho scored 2 touchdowns on the ground and caught 5 passes for 74 yards which, added to his ground gains, gave him triple digit all-purpose yards. But the POTW has to be Nick Tran for the second straight week. Tran dominated on the ground, rushing for 270 yards on 24 carries, averaging 11.25 yards per rush. He scored 3 times on the ground, twice from over 50 yards and the final one being the touchdown that sealed the win in overtime. This is Tran’s second POTW award of the season.
Week 1: WR Jeff Fisher
Week 2: RB Nick Tran