MIFFLINBURG — Had his team lost, Mifflinburg quarterback Jordan Wagner would have thought nothing about the play.
And, had his team lost, one of the better plays you will see from two high school players would have been wasted.
Mifflinburg and Shikellamy were tied 7-7 in the second quarter and the Wildcats faced fourth down and 16 at the Braves’ 27. With the Braves coming after Wagner, the quarterback rolled left and then stepped up into the pocket and zipped a pass into the end zone. Into double coverage no less.
Mifflinburg senior wide receiver Logan Finsterbush used all of his natural ability, not to mention his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, and made a leaping catch for the go-ahead 27-yard touchdown.
Brett Luhrman, who would pad the Wildcats’ lead with a 27-yard TD catch of his own, added the PAT for a 21-7 lead as Mifflinburg rolled to a 28-13 Heartland Athletic Conference Division I victory.
Wagner said, "(Finsterbush) did a great job, I stepped up and the line made it easy for me, and he just adjusted to my rollout and made it easy for me to throw the ball to him."
Added Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler, "That’s an adjustment we made, with the no huddle, get the play off quick and it’s an adjustment that Jordan saw, and Logan saw it and said ‘let’s go for it,’
When your kids have that confidence you’ve got to put it in their hands and let them go make a play."
Wagner had good numbers in the season opener at Selinsgrove, but was frustrated that it came in a 21-6 loss.
"I’d much rather have a win than great statistics, I want the team to do well," he said.
For Shikellamy and coach Todd Tilford, the run of bad luck that hurt the Braves in their opening loss to Mount Carmel not only continued but worsened.
Penalties wiped out a 45-yard punt return TD by Jean Turber, a 67-yard halfback option TD pass from Garrett Kemberling to Ryan Wary and a 51-yard run by Wary to the Mifflinburg 9.
"The kids are in position, they’re just not finishing drives, and penalties are killing us, we had three big runs called back," Tilford said.
"Give (Wagner) credit, he made plays when he had to. But we would have four or five good plays and one bad one and you can’t win games in our league like that," he said.
The Wildcats (1-1, 1-1) scored on the game’s opening series after a 47-yard kickoff return by Tristan Martin. Running back Tanner Bingaman, one of two backs to top the 100-yard mark in the game and one of five to rush for double figures, led the way and Sam Wright scored on a 3-yard run.
Mifflinburg’s defense sacked Shikellamy quarterback Christian Schlegel twice on the Braves’ first possession (Finsterbush and Luhrman), and the Braves went three-and-out on the first two possessions.
But Shikellamy (0-2 overall, 0-1 HAC-I) evened the score the next time they had the ball, helped by a 34-yard run by Wary and a 20-yard TD run by fullback Dwayne Pepper.
After the penalty wiped out Kemberling’s TD pass, Mifflinburg went up 21-7 on Wagner’s TD pass to Luhrman.
Mifflinburg ground out another scoring drive, capped by Wagner’s one-yard sneak to make it 28-7 before the Braves got a 12-yard TD pass from Kemberling to Evan Witmer.