With his football team down a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to visiting Sussex Central, Sussex Tech head coach Bernie Nowakowski might have been thinking about using his birthday wish.
Thanks to the senior leadership the Ravens (4-1 overall, 3-0 North) have on the sideline; however, using it was unnecessary.
Trailing 15-3 when Tech’s offense took over on its own 35 at the end of the third, the Ravens put together a 13-play drive that ended when senior quarterback Jesse Swanson found junior wingback Shane Marvel open in the end zone from six out on a fourth down play.
“Shane was my first read,” Swanson said of the touchdown pass that, along with the extra point, cut Central’s lead to 15-10. “We thought we had all the momentum after that.”
The Ravens capitalized on the momentum too, as their defense forced a Golden Knights’ turnover on their ensuing series that junior linebacker George Delrosario recovered at the Central (2-3, 1-1) 43-yard line.
This time Tech needed seven plays to find pay dirt, as senior tailback George Godwin gave the victors the lead for good with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Sivels made sure the Knights would need a field goal to tie moments later when he reeled in a Swanson pass for the two-point conversion that made the score 18-15.
“This team never panicked,” Nowakowski said. “That goes to show what kind of character we have.
“I love this team,” he continued, “and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift.”
Tech still had work to do though, as just less 4:30 remained on the clock after its last touchdown.
Most of that work was completed by senior cornerback Nathan Jones, who intercepted two Central quarterback Jesse Long passes on the Knights’ final drives of the game.
The second, which came with a little more than one minute to go, sealed the win.
“[Long] was looking left the whole time, so when I saw him going that way I started to break on the receiver,” Jones said of the last pick. “When I came down with the ball, it was exciting. I knew we were going to win.”
One field goal by each team was the only scoring in the first half, but Central came out on fire after the break and scored on its first two series.
Long and senior receiver Matt Cleary combined for both scores on passes of 22 and 14 yards.
“I was happy with our offense, especially after the adjustments we made in the second half,” Central head coach John Wells said. “The late fumble hurt us though, and our defense just couldn’t get that timely stop.
“We definitely feel like we let one get away.”
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