Despite seeing his team’s double-digit second-half lead quickly disappear into thin air and having virtually all momentum shifted to the visiting team, Patrick Henry’s quarterback Roy Gunn remained confident.
The junior had just thrown a back-breaking interception on third-and-long on the Patriots’ previous drive that allowed Brookville to tie the game, but took back control of the ball with just over four minutes remaining and a chance to lead the home team on a game-winning drive.
He did not disappoint.
Aided by two huge defensive pass interference penalties, Gunn marched the Patriots 68 yards downfield in quick succession, finishing the drive with an impressive 20-yard rushing touchdown that put Patrick Henry back ahead 28-21 with just 44 seconds remaining.
The Patriots’ defense made the needed stops on the ensuing Bees’ possession and both the home team and crowd erupted in elation with the victory.
“We really came out with a chip on our shoulder after the loss we took last year. We didn’t want to experience anything like that again, so we really came in focused and played as hard as we could,” Gunn said. “I knew once they tied it up it was time for me to take over and go down and score.”
The win was certainly a welcome sight for the program, which had dropped the previous two meetings against Brookville by a combined total of 80-13, including a 52-0 shellacking just a season ago in Roanoke.
Gunn was the star of the game, finishing with three touchdowns and over 200 total yards of offense in addition to the heroics on the final drive. Senior running back Jalen Cook added 96 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while junior wide receiver Trace Pedigo finished with 95 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.
Brookville outgained Patrick Henry 369-314 in total offense, but the Bees were done in by turnovers and costly penalties, particularly on the game’s final drive.
Senior quarterback Jared Glinski finished with 212 yards of total offense and two touchdowns for Brookville, including 130 rushing yards, while senior running back Ryan North added 104 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Ninth-year Patriot coach Alan Fiddler praised his team’s resilience and determination, noting how the game easily could’ve turned after losing the second half lead.
“The kids showed a lot of character and resilience to have [Brookville] come back on us but we made plays and stayed focus and made the plays there at the end that we needed to,” Fiddler said. “[Gunn] is really a player, even after he threw the pick, I just told him to go out there and win it and we made it happen.”
Each team started hot right out of the gate, as Brookville opened with a touchdown on a 62-yard scoring drive, only to Patrick Henry respond immediately with a 61-yard touchdown drive of their own to tie the game at 7-7.
The Bees were able to convert two fourth-down conversions from inside their own territory in the first quarter, but the third time was the charm for the Patriot defense as they drilled Glinski just short of the first-down marker and took control following the turnover on downs.
The Patriots quickly took advantage on a four-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that culminated in an impressive 31-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout Gavin McCormick, where the speedy receiver juked out a defender just before the end zone to sneak in.
Brookville marched all the way to the Patrick Henry 28 on the following possession but the drive ended on a wild interception that saw the ball tipped from a defender, back to a receiver before being tipped back to the Patriots for an interception. The Patriots took the 14-7 lead into the locker room at the half.
Patrick Henry seemingly took control with their initial possession of the second half, quickly going 83 yards on 13 plays before Cook found the end zone on a 31-yard scamper to push the advantage to 21-7.
The Bees would not go away quietly, however.
Brookville forced a fumble on the next Patrick Henry possession and followed it up with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Glinski to senior Zachary Thompson. A missed extra point left the score at 21-13 with 3:20 left in the third.
Gunn’s interception came with just under six minutes left on the clock, and North’s touchdown brought the team within two points at 21-19. The two-point conversion nearly failed but a pitch back to Glinski from the goal line led to the QB diving in and barely reaching the line to tie the game.