WILKES-BARRE TWP. — With the first overtime game in the 18-year history of the Mayor’s Cup looming, King’s sophomore Patrick Robinson wanted no part of history in that way.
Instead, the Scranton High grad, who has been making plays on special teams all season for the Monarchs, made some history of his own.
Robinson scooped up a punt that was blocked by Monroe Sherman and took it to the end zone for a touchdown with 8 seconds left in the game as King’s overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat Wilkes-Barre city rival Wilkes, 35-28 to claim the coveted trophy for the first time since 2009.
“Overtime’s not in my mind until time stops,” said Robinson, who blocked another punt earlier in the game leading to a King’s touchdown in the fourth quarter that cut Wilkes’ lead to 21-14. It was the third blocked punt in the last two games at McCarthy Stadium for the Monarchs. “It’s really unbelievable. I just had a blackout kind of moment. You can’t really picture it happening, but it happened. For that to happen so late in the game, to score a touchdown, there’s no words for it.”
Said Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock about the defensive plays by the Monarchs, “I don’t think I’ve had two blocked punts against me in my career, let alone two in one game.”
There was plenty of drama prior to Robinson’s late touchdown as the Monarchs (6-4 overall, 6-3 MAC) earned their first winning season since 2006.
Overtime was nearly forced when Wilkes’ David Claybrook (7 receptions, 142 yards), who was named the team’s MVP, hauled in a 68-yard TD pass from fellow freshman Taylor Young to tie the game at 28-28 with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter.
“That kid’s a hell of a player,” King’s coach Jeff Knarr said about the Colonels receiver. “Three more years of him is going to be nightmarish.”
On Wilkes’ (4-6, 3-6) drive prior to Claybrook’s second scoring reception, the Colonels were driving for a go-ahead touchdown in King’s territory near the red zone when Young fumbled. Kris Matthews picked up fumble forced by Jake Ksiazkiewicz and sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Monarchs their first lead of the game at 28-21 with just 2:15 remaining in the fourth.
“I saw it on the ground just picked it up and ran as fast as I could,” said Matthews a junior, who was selected as the Monarchs’ MVP for garnering a game-high 12 tackles and a pass break-up as well. “It was (an) intense (game) and at the end, it’s a great way to go out, especially for the seniors.”
Wilkes (4-6, 3-6) stormed out to 21-0 lead after scoring on its first drive of the second half with 8:01 remaining in the third quarter. The Colonels dominated up until that point with 296 yards of total offense to 118 for the Monarchs. King’s quarterback Tyler Hartranft was just 6 of 19 at that point, while Colonels QB Taylor Young was 12 of 14.
“It’s a real gut-wrenching way for us to end our season, but I’m real proud of our kids,” Sheptock said. “I think you saw the best of small college football here.”
The Monarchs — being a second-half team all season, with five of their six wins this season being in comeback fashion — didn’t let the deficit get to them. But they needed to get going soon.
“Wilkes was punching us in the mouth and we were taking it,” Knarr added. “We just told the kids ‘listen, if you guys want this you gotta punch back because Wilkes right now is beating us up and they’re not gonna stop.’”
The message was apparently heard as King’s scored the game’s next four touchdowns in a span of 14:27 from late in the third quarter through Matthews’ score late in the fourth.
Wilkes tight end Alex George, a converted quarterback, caught his first touchdown pass of the season in his final game with the Colonels … The Colonels finish their third straight season without a winning record going 4-5 in 2011 and 5-5 in 2012. That’s the first time in Sheptock’s 18-year tenure that kind of streak has occurred … King’s wide receiver Dan Kempa was held to two receptions for 13 yards, his lowest output in both categories in any game this season. But the junior still set the team’s record for catches in a season with 58 and holds the mark for most receiving yards in a season with 1,057.
King’s 35, Wilkes 28
WILKES — Inguilli 2 run (Fredo kick) :38
WILKES — George 15 pass from Young (Fredo kick) 7:08
WILKES — Claybrook 7 pass from Young (Fredo kick) 8:01
KING’S — Hartranft 1 run (Mulvihill kick) 1:42
KING’S — McGrath 1 run (Mulvihill kick) 11:10
KING’S — McGrath 14 pass from Hartranft (Mulvihill kick) 4:20
KING’S — Matthews 75 fumble recovery (Mulvihill kick) 2:15
WILKES — Claybrook 68 pass from Young (Fredo kick) 1:14
KING’S — Robinson 10 blocked punt return (Mulvihill kick) :08
RUSHING — WILKES, Pat Inguilli 19-80, David Claybrook 4-40, Calvin Garvin 6-36, Taylor Young 9-15, Jonathan Conklin 1-12, Ryan Behrmann 1-2, TEAM 1-(minus-1). KING’S, Kyle McGrath 15-32, Tyler Hartranft 8-26, Patrick Robinson 4-5, Tom Hehre 2-0.
PASSING — WILKES, Taylor Young 14-23-0-220. KING’S, Tyler Hartranft 18-35-0-199.
RECEIVING — WILKES, David Claybrook 7-142, Jonathon Conklin 3-24, Alex George 2-25, Ryan Behrmann 1-15, Nick Dawson 1-14. KING’S, Kyle McGrath 7-51, Patrick Robinson 2-35, Darren Mitchell 2-29, Vince Albano 2-26, Josh Sanders 2-26, Dan Kempa 2-13, Jay Thomas 1-19.
INTERCEPTIONS — None
MISSED FGs — KING’S, Mulvihill (26, WL)