TYLER PICCOTTI (STAFF WRITER)
Published: August 4,
Syracuse Shock running
back Justin Hardwyck might have made more plays than anyone else on turf at
Scranton Memorial Stadium on Saturday night, rushing for 205 yards.
But NEPA Miners
linebacker Donovan Palmer made the biggest play of the game.
With his team trailing
by six midway through the fourth quarter, Palmer forced a fumble with his huge
hit on Syracuse quarterback TJ Sheard, which Miners teammate John Kudey
returned for a touchdown to help the Miners escape with a 22-20 victory.
"Donovan is a heck
of a football player," Miners head coach Darrin McDowell said. "He's
got a motor on him. He just keeps going and going."
The Miners, now 3-0 in
Empire Football League competition, were forced to fight back from the game's
first offensive play.
Quinn Buckner returned
the opening kickoff 28 yards to give the Miners good field position on their
opening drive. However, quarterback JP Antosh quickly turned the ball over with
But, at that point,
Syracuse was unable to take advanatge.
from the seven, Sheard pitched the ball to Hardwyck. Palmer and Jimmy Robertson
were not fooled, combining for a tackle to end the threat.
After the Miners'
ensuing drive, the Shock struck. Sheard scrambled for a 23-yard gain and was
tackled just shy of the goal line. Hardwyck plunged into the end zone on the
next play, and a two-point conversion gave Syracuse an 8-0 lead.
The advantage increased
to 14 early in the second quarter. Following a 78-yard run by Hardwyck, Dewayne
Gordon muscled his way to a 4-yard score with 14 minutes remaining in the half.
It looked as though the
Miners would enter the break with a two-score deficit, but McKenzy Rene had
The Miners receiver
broke free downfield with less than two minutes remaining and hauled in a throw
from Antosh for a 56-yard touchdown. An unsuccessful two-point conversion
attempt resulted in a 14-6 halftime score.
During the break,
McDowell instructed his team to just keep fighting.
"I just told them
to keep it up, keep going," he said. "It's eventually going to get
there, and we'll make plays."
Turns out he was
After an opening
fourth-down stop by the Miner defense, a 28-yard connection between Antosh and
Jay Torres put the Miners inside the Syracuse 10-yard line. After a short gain
by Ahmad Shuler, Antosh snuck his way into the end zone. He then found Nico DiSabatino
seconds later for a two-point conversion to knot the score at 14.
But Hardwyck just would
During the opening
minutes of the fourth quarter, he sprang loose for a 48-yard gain. Later in the
drive, his successful pass attempt set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Sheard.
Down six, the Miners
needed someone to make a play.
He motored toward Sheard
on a blitz and leveled him with a thunderous hit. The ball flew into the air
and landed right in front of Kudey, who picked it up and scored before Antosh
hit Torres on what turned out to be the game-winning two-point conversion.
McDowell was proud of
the fact that the entire team refused to give up.
"Tonight, the guys
really came together," McDowell said. "When you can come together and
win a game out of (adversity), that makes it good."
The Miners will hit the
road to face Vermont on Saturday.
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