WINDHAM — Andrew Root didn’t have a completed pass in two attempts during the final minute against Windham.
But one throw put the Pymatuning Valley football team in the lead for a third consecutive Northeastern Athletic Conference title.
The Lakers beat the Bombers 36-28 on a Devin Ray 1-yard touchdown run with 11.1 seconds left on the clock on Friday night. And it was all thanks to Root and Garrett Smith.
The score was tied at 28 with the clock ticking down to the final minute of play. PV (5-1, 2-0 NAC) only completed one pass prior, a throw from Ryan Crosto to Root for a two-point conversion.
The Lakers had little time left and the ball at the Windham 45-yard line.
So PV called one of Roots favorite plays.
He took a short dropback out of shotgun and rolled slightly to his left. He found Smith running wide open down the middle of the field.
With a slight reach, Smith caught the ball and was eventually taken down at the Bombers 3-yard line. Ray punched it in from a yard out to give the Lakers the lead. Robert Verba added a 2-point run to make it an eight-point game.
“We ran it in 7-on-7s. It was never to Garrett, though. This time it just happened to be,” Root said. “The safety was there so it was just wide open.”
The Lakers stuck to their traditional running game. They only attempted several throws and Smith said that play calling curveball was the reason he got open.
“We’re just trying to squeeze as much as we could out yardage-wise,” coach Neal Croston said. “It was a good play for our guys.”
The Bombers painted their field with black and pink ribbons and yard lines to march breast cancer awareness. But after the game both teams will probably be black and blue.
Between PV’s running game and Windham’s option offense, there were a lot of hard hits and downhill running. Ray came up a little sore in the fourth quarter. But the Bombers (4-2, 1-1 NAC) took the worst of it.
Speedster Miki Jones was holding his ribs for the second half and James Hood left the game after officials called timeout to get him off the field with a core injury. But the worst was losing Chase Eye, who left the game with an injury in the ambulance.
They were the Bombers’ top three rushers in a run-heavy system.
“Every play seemed like it was a hard hit, whether it was a pass or not,” Neal Croston said. “Give credit. Their guys tuck with our linemen. We keep plugging away.”
The hard hits were expected with a conference title on the line. The last time the Lakers went to Windham they clinched the NAC title in 2019.
“We want to get three straight,” Smith said. “We have one more [NAC game], but we wanted to win on this field.”