MINEVILLE — Linney Field was the scene for one of the most thrilling Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football games in quite some time Friday.
Facing a 26-21 deficit after leading by 15 points with 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter, Peru (1-1) found a way to bounce back and collect a 27-26 win over Moriah (0-2).
Zach O’Connell’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Ian Joy with 26.5 seconds remaining in the game put the Indians ahead for good, and Joy’s interception on the first play of the Vikings’ ensuing drive sealed the victory.
“Just to top everything off with the game-winning touchdown was special, but getting the game-sealing pick felt even more amazing,” Joy said. “This was a true team win in every way. We fought through adversity and found a way.”
After a 1-yard rush from Austin Carpenter gave Peru a 21-6 lead, Maddox Blaise put Moriah on his back.
Blaise rattled off two 3-yard touchdowns to cut the Vikings deficit to 21-20, and he put Moriah ahead with a 15-yard rush with 1:10 remaining in regulation.
Blaise finished with 212 rushing yards on 30 attempts to go along with his three touchdowns.
“Maddox Blaise is the best back in the league,” Indians coach Pat Keleher said. “We did a pretty good job bottling him up in the first half, but he really wore us down in the second half.
“His great play in the second half put us in a difficult spot, but our kids fought for this win.”
After Peru fell behind late in the fourth quarter, Keleher told his team on the sidelines to stay together and believe, knowing his offense could execute.
Before the beginning of Peru’s final drive, Carpenter set the Indians up in great field position with a 54-yard kickoff return to put Peru on the Vikings’ 28-yard line with 56.5 seconds to go.
“Austin’s return took a lot of pressure off,” O’Connell said. “Instead of going 60, we had to only go 30. We had a little less than a minute, and I knew we could do it.
“I came into the huddle and told them we needed one more play. The line protected so well, and I was able to complete the pass to Ian. It was an amazing feeling.”
In the second quarter, Jack Hanson helped the Indians jump out to a 14-0 lead with a 5-yard touchdown reception and 1-yard rushing score.
Todd Malbon, who came in for Moriah quarterback Jeff Strieble to start the second half, connected with Braden Swan for a 53-yard touchdown with 7:46 left in the third quarter.
Strieble left the game with an undisclosed injury.
In Week 3, the Vikings travel to face Ticonderoga at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20.
Peru will welcome Plattsburgh High at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, as well in the first game under the lights at the Apple Bowl.
“Being 0-2 would have put a lot of pressure on us next week, and this win takes a lot of pressure off,” Keleher said.
“We are ready to return to the Apple Bowl for our home opener. Our community has been dying to get our team under the lights, and we are all excited.”
Peru 27, Moriah 26
Peru 0 14 0 13 — 27
Moriah 0 0 6 20 — 26
P- J. Hanson 5 pass from O’Connell (Smith kick), 9:56.
P- J. Hanson 1 run (Smith kick), 1:53.
M- B. Swan 53 pass from Malbon (pass failed), 7:46.
P- Carpenter 1 run (Smith kick), 8:15.
M- Blaise 3 run (Blaise run), 6:43.
M- Blaise 3 run (run fails), 5:23.
M- Blaise 15 run (pass fails), 1:10.
P- Joy 21 pass from O’Connell (run fails), 26.5.
P- J. Hanson 8-34, TD; Hart 4-11; Carpenter 4-9, TD; O’Connell 10-8. Totals: 26-62, 2TD.
M- Blaise 30-212, 3TD; Diehl 4-51; B. Swan 5-25; Malbon 2-5; Harris 1-4; Strieble 3-2; Thompson 1-(-7). Totals: 46-292, 3TD.
P- O’Connell 13-23-0-158, 2TD.
M- Malbon 3-7-3-69, TD; Strieble 4-8-0-48. Totals: 7-15-3-117.
P- Joy 5-69, TD; Carpenter 4-45; Hanson 2-22, TD; Varno 1-12; Frechette 1-10.
M- Swan 2-62, TD; Diehl 3-34; Blaise 2-21.
P- Brown, LaFountain, Joy.
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