WORCESTER >> Ryan O’Toole knew the play was there.
His Methacton High football team was seeking the go-ahead score against Norristown Saturday afternoon on a damp, rainy Homecoming Day. And, oh yes, the Warriors’ first win of the season.
Then he saw the play develop.
Sliding out into the flat, O’Toole called for the ball from quarterback Jason Eckman, and by the time he pulled it in, broke three tackles and went into the end zone standing up for a 26-yard touchdown to give Methacton a 21-14 win over Norristown, he saw nothing but sunshine.
O’Toole’s touchdown gave the Warriors their first win since Nov. 7 of last year when they defeated Pope John Paul II, and the party was approaching full swing.
“I knew it was going to be a big play,” O’Toole said. “I didn’t know it was going to be a touchdown.
“I saw their linebackers blitzing, so I knew I had space if I got the ball.”
Even though the score put the Warriors on top, the victory was not secured until the Methacton defense pulled down Eagles’ receiver Koran Butler at the Methacton 12-yard line on the final play of the game.
And then it was time for Warriors head coach Paul Lepre and his team to exhale.
“I’m beyond happy for those guys,” said Lepre, nodding toward his team. “I’ve had my day in the sun, and I want those guys to experience some of the joy I had as a player.
“And to see them do what they did today, I couldn’t be happier for them as a group.”
From the beginning, it looked like it could be Methacton’s day.
Norristown fumbled the ball away on the fourth snap of the game, and five plays after Tonee Ellis recovered the ball at the Norristown 30, Warriors quarterback Jason Eckman plunged into the end zone to give Methacton the lead just 3:29 into the game.
But it wouldn’t last.
The Eagles, who were also seeking their first win of the season, got the game tied on their first drive of the second half, an 11-play, beauty that ended with quarterback Steve DePaul finding Eleazar Hill from 15 yards out to tie the game at the 5:28 of the third quarter.
But the fun was just starting.
Two possessions later, Methacton got a drive kick-started via a 25-yard pass play from Eckman to Dylan Henry, then kept on going until O’Toole’s 9-yard run put the home team on top, 14-7, with 8:26 left in the final quarter.
Norristown answered when it went the length of the field, keyed by a 38-yard completion from Izaiah Webb to Hill, then tying the game with 5:13 left on a quick, 6-yard slant from Webb to Hill.
Methacton appeared ready to answer with a drive of its own, but after reaching the Norristown 37, an Eckman pass was batted in the air and intercepted by Bryce Byrd, setting the Eagles up at the Methacton 49.
But on the very next snap, Webb fumbled the ball away, with Henry pouncing on it at midfield.
“If I hadn’t lost my balance, I could have run it back,” Henry said.
Eckman found Treman Wilson for 19 yards bookended by a pair of O’Toole carries, then found O’Toole in the flat.
Three broken tackles later, the Warriors had the lead.
“I was looking for our outside guys, but (Norristown) had them covered,” Eckman said. “And once I got it to Ryan, it was all him.”
Norristown didn’t go away, and DePaul completions to Hill, Joe Gionnone and Butler got the Eagles close – but not close enough.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Eagles head coach Jason Powel. “They kept fighting and made it a game to the end.
“But we just committed too many penalties and missed too many tackles.”
Meanwhile, Lepre was preparing for his postgame ritual.
“I’ll be back there watching video,” he said. “I’ll let the kids celebrate.”
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