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Blue Devils putt out heart-stopping win

October 17, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Greencastle-Antrim football coach Chuck Tinninis said he had "about four heart attacks" during Friday night's game against Big Spring.

Luckily for him - and the Blue Devils - his guts were doing just fine.

With Big Spring holding a one-point lead in overtime, Tinninis called for a two-point conversion to win. Mike Jemison answered with a three-yard scamper into the end zone to give No. 4 Greencastle a heart-pounding 22-21 victory and the inside track to the first Mid Penn football title in school history.

"We went for the win," an elated and exhausted Tinninis said afterward. "That's my decision, and we play to win. I told my seniors, 'This is it.'"

On the conversion, Jemison was pushed wide left and seemed to be cornered. But he cut back to the inside at the 4-yard line and found daylight, sending the packed house at Kaley Field into a frenzy.

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"I knew he was coming back with it," said Jemison, who found the end zone on the Blue Devils' first play in overtime to bring up the conversion.

"They've got some pretty good linebackers, but our boys on the line pushed back."

The line of Greencastle (6-1, 3-0 Colonial) pushed back at just the right times all night. Twice in the fourth quarter, Big Spring went for it on fourth down inside the Blue Devils 15, only to be thrown back both times.

"Our defense sucked it up," Tinninis said. "Those were two big fourth-down plays for us."

They were made important after Greencastle fell apart in the last eight minutes of the first half. A Walt Medina TD run made it 14-0, then Big Spring (5-2, 2-1) took a 10-play drive into the end zone, then blocked a Billy Windle punt and turned it into a touchdown with 33 seconds left in the half to tie the game.

But 32 years of failure hang heavy on the heart. And a tenacious run defense and the bruising running of Jemison (21 carries, 92 yards) let the Bulldogs feel what the Blue Devils have known for so long.

"I just feel so good for the kids," Tinninis said. "They've worked so hard for this."

"We're going all out now," Jemison said.

"This will be the last time I play with Walt (Jemison's cousin), so it would be very nice."

"When you're a senior, this is what you work for," said Greencastle receiver Nate Butts, whose TD catch gave the Devils a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. "We've worked all our lives for a title.

"I just kept jumping up and down and yelling, 'We won. We won.'"

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