Zephs hand EHS first loss
Whitehall’s Braxton Marrero and Emmaus’ Sone Ntoh can attest to the redemptive power of sport as they both responded to adversity with big plays that helped make last Friday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South match-up an early candidate for the high school football game of the year.
Ntoh had his moment of misfortune midway through the fourth quarter when he fumbled the ball as the Green Hornets were driving for the tying score. Whitehall had just forged ahead on a pass from Ethan Parvel to wideout Dez Boykin, who found the end zone for the third time in the game, making in 35-28.
The Hornets took the ensuing kickoff and marched down the field, as Ntoh gained huge chucks of yards on big runs throughout the drive. The junior was like a locomotive churning through the Zephyr line, gaining 36 of his 116 yards during that march.
But he lost the ball at Whitehall’s 17-yard line with a little less than six minutes remaining, and it looked like Whitehall was in the driver’s seat as they began to run their offense that had torched the Hornets for 390 total yards and five touchdowns to that point. It was the first turnover for either team, and it could have spelled disaster for the Hornets, who were looking to go to 2-0 on the season in their quest to defend their conference championship.
But as the Zephyrs lined up to begin their next series, it was Marrero who felt the sting of a critical turnover at a point where a sustained drive could have ended Emmaus’ hope for a comeback victory. The Hornets were playing from behind most of the evening, but eventually took their first lead midway through the third quarter, 28-21. They now had the ball back in their hands with another opportunity to tie, and coach Harold Fairclough turned to Ntoh again.
The junior quickly redeemed himself with a 3-yard score to knot the game at 35-35 with a little over four minutes left in the game.
Ntoh had erased that previous turnover with a score that put the momentum back into Emmaus’ favor.
But redemption paid a visit to Marrero on the Zephyrs ensuing drive as head coach Brian Gilbert didn’t hesitate to call his number again. After Parvel hooked up with Boykin for a big gain on a third-and-four to keep the chains moving, Marrero burst up the gut for an 18-yard TD run for the winning score, giving the Zephs a 42-35 victory.
The Hornets had one last series to try to force overtime, but an interception sealed their fate, handing them their first loss of the season. They’ll now prepare for Bethlehem Catholic this Friday.
Emmaus had a tough time stopping the Zephyrs on run plays up the middle of their defense. Even when they appeared to have Parvel wrapped up, he kept churning ahead for positive yards. The Zephyrs piled up 326 yards on the ground, as both Parvel and Marrero went over the century mark.
Whitehall scored first in the game and never trailed. The Hornets answered each Whitehall score, the first on a nifty shovel pass to Noah Breidinger for a 5-yard score. After matching touchdowns throughout the first half, the Hornets took the lead on a beautifully-executed inside screen to Deonte Castro.
But missed connections between quarterback Blake Reed and receiver Josh Artis hurt the Emmaus offense. Last year Artis was a nightmare for the Zephyr defensive backfield, reeling in eight receptions for 144 yards and two scores.On Friday, Artis only caught three balls for 41 yards.
Reed was able to spread the ball around, connecting with six different receivers for 128 yards, including three scores.
The Hornets will now regroup and look to knock the Golden Hawks from the unbeaten ranks this Friday.