PUNXSUTAWNEY — A pair of first-half turnovers proved to be key in the Savage Seniors' victory over the Jaw-Dropping Juniors in Monday night's Powderpuff football game beneath the lights of Jack LaMarca Stadium in Punxsutawney.
Seniors Tori Martin and Cassie Cook each had first-half interceptions that led to touchdowns for the Senior squad and proved to be enough to hold off the Jaw-Droppers 24-8.
It appeared the Seniors had jumped out to an early lead after forcing a Juniors punt on the opening drive of the game when Sierra Milton scampered 67 yards to pay dirt. But the touchdown was called back for a hold, and the Seniors ended up having to punt the ball away, as well.
It was on the the second play of the ensuing drive that Martin grabbed a Juniors pass out of the air and weaved between defenders for a pick-six as the first-quarter clock expired.
A failed two-point conversion — a theme for the Seniors during the game — kept the lead at six.
The Juniors opened the second quarter with the ball, and after a pair of 15-yard runs had the Juniors in business in Senior territory, Cook snagged her interception to give the rock back to the Seniors at their own 25.
After a long pass play by quarterback Johnna Depp put the Seniors deep in Junior territory, Depp took it upon herself to finish the drive with a 35-yard keeper down the right sideline.
The Juniors took over with just under nine minutes left in the half and controlled the clock with the next drive, going 70 yards in 11 plays.
Juniors Holly Waltman and Tiffany Huffman did the majority of the carrying for their squad on its scoring drive, but Caroline Dunkel made the highlight reel with a 20-yard run and a 32-yard keeper to cap the drive.
A two-point conversion brought the Juniors back within striking distance at 12-8 and left the Seniors less than a minute to work with.
The Seniors made it 60 yards in under 60 seconds, but the clock ran out with the ball resting on the 10-yard line after impressive runs of 28 by Kayla Cameron and 21 by Depp.
The Seniors led 12-8 at the half, and the defense stepped it up in the second half to keep the Juniors off the scoreboard and earn the win.
The third quarter went scoreless as the Seniors burned five minutes off the clock but were forced to punt on a drive highlighted by an 18- yard pass from quarterback Kaitlyn Cressley to Brooke Doney.
The Seniors second drive of the half started at the Juniors' 47 and ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Emily Smith, who also had runs of 25 and six on the drive.
After yet another failed two-point conversion, it was a two-score game at 18-8.
The Seniors earned their final score on a fourth-quarter drive that started at the Juniors' 47 again.
On the first play of the drive, Rebecca Shiock aired it out for Jenna Depp for a 33-yard completion, putting the Seniors in the red zone.
Two plays later, Shiock found Depp's twin sister, Randa for a 15-yard touchdown pass that put the game away.
The Juniors' last ditch effort was a 50-yard drive highlighted by a 22-yard run by Sydney Dubensky and a 15-yard penalty on the Seniors for tackling her instead of pulling off her flag.
The drive stalled at the 21, though, and the Seniors ran out the clock for the victory.
The Seniors were coached by several of their classmates, but one of the coaches, Jonathan Smeal, spoke on their behalf after the game, saying how proud he was of his team.
"The girls worked really hard," he said. "The few practices we had, most of them showed up. They put forth quite an effort, and they came out on top."
Smeal also pointed out that the real reason the game is played is to raise money for Make-A-Wish, and he said that meeting their goal of granting a wish was what made the night so special.
"It was fun, but the best part is that it all went to a good cause," he said. "We granted a wish, so everyone is happy about that."