Tempers were flaring on and off the field.
The fans on both sides of Wilkes University's Schmidt Stadium were loud and boisterous. Everyone knew the rivalry game was being played and the intensity on the field backed up that intensity with five personal foul penalties and 11 total touchdowns.
Each team wanted to close out the season with a win in the worst way as there was a little extra pep in the step of every King's and Wilkes player who stepped on the field Saturday for the 17th annual Mayor's Cup game.
The Colonels held off the Monarchs' valiant comeback attempt for a 44-32 victory to hoist the trophy for the third straight season.
Saturday's game appears to have started a trend that could be present in the rivalry for the next few years. Just 10 seniors from King's played their final game, while only eight Colonels were honored on senior day. That leaves nearly 200 players combined who will be returning for next year's edition.
This could beef things up for the next couple years, Wilkes quarterback Tyler Berntsen said. We knew it was going to be a fight out there, we just wanted to keep our plays inside the whistles and we did a good job of that.
Notable performances from underclassmen were all over the field.
For King's, a trio of sophomores stood out. Quarterback Tyler Hartranft tossed for a school-record 408 yards and 27 completions; three of those completed passes went for touchdowns to sophomore wideout Dan Kempa, who set a school-record with 237 yards receiving en route to being named the Monarchs' team MVP in the game. All three of Kempa's TD receptions made Wilkes defensive backs look helpless because of the nifty moves and spectacular catches he made.
Then there was tailback Kyle McGrath, who rushed for 81 yards to finish his season just 40 yards shy of becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Monarchs since 2005.
These young kids, they believe in what we're doing and they believe in each other and they know they have talent and that they need to improve, but they're never going to quit, King's coach Jeff Knarr said.
On the Colonels side, five senior offensive linemen played for most of the game. Just about everyone else on offense and defense are underclassmen.
Berntsen, a junior who passed for 185 yards and two touchdowns, also ran for 89 yards and two scores. Sophomore receiver Jonathan Conklin caught five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Don't forget about freshman tailback Pat Inguilli, who rumbled for 140 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.7 yards per carry to end the season with 619 yards after just getting plugged into the lineup on a regular basis the last six games.
All the offensive numbers could be a sign that both teams are turning into an offensive prowess for the 2013 season.
As a defensive coach, I would say hopefully not, Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock said when asked about the possibility of more offense in the coming years. Hopefully you see the Wilkes-Barre teams rise up to be the premier of the MAC.
All the returning weapons aren't on offense.
On defense, Wilkes freshman defensive back Marcus Leaf, picked off a pair of passes – one on a two-point conversion attempt and returned it for two Wilkes points – and sophomore D-back J.T. Keer also had two interceptions.
Tyler Struckus, a freshman in the King's secondary, registered an interception and had a fumble recovery for a touchdown called back due to a controversial inadvertent whistle.