BRISTOL TOWNSHIP >> When the Truman High School football program hired much of the former Pennsbury coaching staff last year, the hope was it could finally turn its long-dormant program around.
Sure enough it call came to fruition on Sept. 22 in what can arguably be called one the greatest night in Truman football history as the Tigers stunned Neshaminy, 27-26, for their first win over the ‘Skins since the mid 1990s.
There were all kinds of big plays and turning points in front of the biggest crowd in the history of the Henry C. Morgan Stadium. In the end, however, it all came down to an extra point after Neshaminy had drawn within a point on a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Brody McAndrew with a little over a minute remaining.
Neshaminy no doubt thought about going for the win, but perhaps it remembered its failed two-point conversion on the opening night of the season that resulted in an overtime loss to North Penn.
Whatever the thinking was, Neshaminy decided to tie the game instead, but it backfired when the ensuing kick missed badly and the home side of the field exploded in delight.
With the win, Truman improved to 4-1 and is in great shape to earn a return trip to the playoffs after qualifying for the first time last year. Stunned Neshaminy, meanwhile, is now 2-3 after its defense could not hold up against a relentless Truman running game that alternated between Power I and Wing-T formations.
“This means everything to our program,’’ said Truman’s Deondre Winton, who ignited his team with both kickoff returns and some dazzling runs in the fourth quarter. “We have worked very hard for this. We knew we had to come out and perform.’’
It was a wild game that really started cooking in the second half after the teams were even following two quarters at 7-all.
Truman came out strong in the third quarter and after a big kick off return by Winton to the Neshaminy 31 yard line, it scored on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Dylan Snelling to Gabe Gipil.
When Neshaminy then failed on a fake punt in its own territory, it looked like the Tigers might be able to take control. Instead, a pass into the end zone was picked off by Corey Joyce, who returned it 102 yards to put Neshaminy ahead, 14-13.
That momentum shift would have done in most Truman teams in the past. Instead, the Tigers then got a huge interception of their own from James Koliyah, who returned the third pick of the night against McAndrew 15 yards to put the Tigers back ahead.
And so it went right down to the final minute.
Trailing 19-14 after three quarters, Neshaminy retook the lead when Olen Manczyk scored on a 10-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Truman responded with a drive of its own, only to fumble the ball away in Neshaminy territory. But not to be denied on this night, the Tiger defense then held and Truman regained the lead on a 4-yard run by Winton. Even better, the Tigers were also able to convert a huge two-point conversion on a pass from Snelling to to Tayshaun Holden to establish what proved to be a critical 7-point lead.
It was at this point where Neshaminy again stormed down the field and into the end zone, only to come up short when the ensuing extra point was both wide and short. Following a failed onsides kick, Truman then sealed the deal with a first down and was able to run out the clock to stun a Neshaminy team that had destroyed Truman by nearly 50 points last year.