By matthew Peaslee
Drevon Green saw two of his Youngstown Christian teammates recover fumbles in the first three minutes of its first-round playoff game against Warren JFK.
Little did Green know, he’d be the one needed to secure a win.
The 6-foot, 170-pound senior linebacker sacked JFK quarterback Dominic Naples twice on a potential game-winning drive.
Jonathon Staples and Paris Bennett broke up a desperation pass as time expired to give YCS a 20-14 victory.
“A lot was going through my mind,” Green said. “I knew if I didn’t make those plays, we were going to lose.”
Bennett and Tymere Dubose had fumble recoveries on JFK’s first two possessions of the game. They resulted in a touchdown and a missed field goal.
And a jolt of energy to the visiting Eagles defense.
“We had confidence early,” Green said. “Everybody was coming through together.”
Youngstown Christian (8-2) sacked Naples 10 times.
“We wanted to use our speed to cover them,” said YCS coach Brian Marrow. “We put a lot of pressure on them to get them out of their game.”
Tied 7-7 in the waning minutes before halftime, YCS QB Emmett Underwood found Nick Gonda in the right corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score. Underwood completed 6 of 14 passes for 44 yards. Darien Townsend was the leading receiver with three catches for 27 yards.
But the offense ran through Ryan Grier. He racked up 146 yards on 22 carries with scoring runs of 25 and 23 yards. His long runs came after contact with spin moves, stiff-arms and shoulder-drives.
“I run with determination,” Grier said. “My feet are always moving and I don’t stop until I go down — and I don’t want to go down.”
Grier’s second score put YCS up 20-7 with 11:08 left in the fourth. Five minutes later, it was driving again. However, Grier fumbled on the JFK 9-yard line. Alec Rossi recovered.
The home Eagles engineered a 10-play, 91-yard drive ending with a 21-yard pass from Naples to Robert Seger.
With just 1:39 left , JFK trailed by six.
Mike Fordeley recovered an onside kick attempt that left his Eagles 38 yards from a tie.
Naples scrambled for 12 yards before an incomplete pass, Green’s sacks and the final pass breakup.
“I did not think it was going to go down like that,” Green said. “It was a heck of a fight.”
Green recorded a pair of sacks earlier in the game and the Youngstown Christian defense forced JFK to three three-and-outs. Jarius Pettis, a 6-foot, 265-pound lineman, added an interception.
“Playing defense was the key,” Marrow said. “JFK is a great football team and they’re a fast team, too. I know it got scary, but hats off to our defense for holding on.
“They got it done. They held their composure.”
JFK (9-2) appearing in its 44th playoff game did out-gain YCS, 244-218, thanks to Naples’ 149 passing yards. He completed 10 of 17 passes. Seger had three catches for 49 yards and Carl Zallow caught two for 44.
“You look at the score now and it’s 20-14, we almost gave them two touchdowns right off the bat,” said JFK coach Dave Pappada. “That could’ve been jitters, but we overcame it. We have first-class kids and it’s a tribute to them to fight until the last minute.”