When seven minutes and ultimately just one yard stood between Northern and his first home playoff win in six years on Friday night, Bill Miller’s message to his Polar Bears was as simple as it gets.
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Buckle up the boys chinstrap. We go there thoroughly.
It had to be so, the coach said after the game, because after the Polar Bears sprinted to take a 28-6 lead, Octorara came back strong to get closer to 28-22.
And so it ended – 28-22 – on the scoreboard, and Northern (7-3) has progressed into the District 3 4A playoffs and will play against Bishop McDevitt.
But with the buzz of the Octorara offensive, it took seven minutes of courage, grinding and keeping out of the way to secure that date.
In other words, Miller said, it was great football.
“This is what I was most proud of,” he said. “We ran those seven minutes on the clock.”
This included a 4th and 1 in which Miller told his guys to go get him.
And Cole Bartram, who ran for 51 yards and two runs in the third quarter, was the guy to endure this one and keep the chains moving.
“But credit really goes to our offensive line for that one,” Miller said.
Talon Balluscio was pretty, good too.
He ran for 137 yards and opened the scoring for Northern with a 2-yard rush in the first.
“It meant a lot to us to get this win,” said Balluscio. “At the start of the season we weren’t supposed to be the best team. It was supposed to be a year of rebuilding, but here we are… winning our first playoff game in six years.
“So that feels good. “
Trenton Peach, who had two catches for 84 yards, caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Timmy Bonin. Bonin finished with 140 passing yards and a touchdown for the Polar Bears.
“It was exciting,” Miller said. “It was all pretty exciting. Honestly, for our kids, I couldn’t be happier.