HALIFAX — For 22 minutes Friday Line Mountain controlled, if not dominated, a good Halifax team.
Then the roof caved in, the sky fell, the bubble burst; take your pick of cliches.
Halifax, trailing 7-0, stopped Line Mountain on downs inside the 10-yard line, then had a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the half, picked off another pass to set up a go-ahead field goal and never looked back, going on to beat the Eagles, 37-7, in a Tri-Valley League game.
Halifax improved to 3-0, 2-0 TVL, and Line Mountain dropped to 1-2, 1-1. It was the first win for Halifax over Line Mountain since 2006 and the Wildcats’ third straight comeback win.
Broc Grosser’s 51-yard interception return started the Wildcats comeback with 1:49 left in the half, and on Line Mountain’s first play on the ensuing drive, Dalton Marshall picked off quarterback Evan Herb again to start at the Eagles 38. Sophomore placekicker Tai Lehman boomed a 37-yard field goal with 20.5 seconds left and all of a sudden the Wildcats led 10-7.
Jesse Kargus intercepted Herb on Line Mountain’s first possession of the second half and by that time, the junior who threw for 2,100 yards last season, was suffering a confidence lapse. After completing 8 of his first 15 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, Herb went 1 for 7 for minus 1 yard with three interceptions, and lost two fumbles on top of that before being replaced by freshman Jace Hackenburg, who also suffered an interception. Overall, the Eagles had six turnovers and just 74 yards offense in the second half.
“That’s on me,” Line Mountain head coach Brandon Carson said. “I should have tried to run some clock at the end of the first half and been happy going into halftime with a 7-0 lead. Instead they got the pick-six, then another pick and the field goal. We actually should have been up 14-0, if they wouldn’t have made the stop when we were down near the goal.”
Line Mountain took the lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Herb to Adam Malafi with 5:55 left in the first quarter, and got great defense the rest of the half, holding the Wildcats to 66 total yards in the half.
The Wildcats forced a punt on the next series and Johnson hit speedy Broc Grosser on a slant for a 50-yard touchdown pass. That gave Halifax 24 points in a span of seven and a half minutes.
Herb lost a fumble at midfield on the next drive and Halifax drove 43 yards in seven plays, with Jay Zerby scoring on a 7-yard run.
Herb lost another fumble on the first play of the next series, prompting his replacement.
“Evan didn’t have one of his better games, that’s for sure, but that’s my fault too,” Carson said. “We’ve got to put him in more adverse situations in practice and get him ready for blitzes.”