EAST NORRITON >> Norristown got its happy Homecoming cap Friday.
That, and a different number in the win column for the first time this season.
Scoring 33 unanswered points after falling behind by 21, the Eagles held on for a 33-28 victory over Boyertown in their Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup. It was the Eagles’ first win of the fall, after dropping their first eight this fall (1-4 PAC, 1-8 overall).
Last spring was Norristown’s last winning outcome while playing spring ball after sitting out the fall campaign due to COVID-19 circumstances.
“The kids came out believing in us (coaches),” head coach Joe Milligan. “We had to figure things out on the fly this season, but we kept them grounded.”
The game demonstrated the extent to which Chris Carter figured out a position he started playing midway through the season. A running back previously, the Eagle senior took over behind center with other players ahead of him on the depth chart unavailable due to injury and other considerations.
In his biggest game of the year, Carter threw four successive touchdown passes after getting Norristown on track with a three-yard TD run early in the second quarter. He connected twice with John DiNolfi, then with Julian Arthur on a pair to stake the Eagles to a 33-21 lead with 3:40 left in the game.
“This was his fourth game as a quarterback,” Milligan noted, adding the effect of success breeding more success as a key to the night’s performance. It was a night that started out with Boyertown (1-4, 3-6) scoring on its first three possessions, and ended with the Bears trying to mount a comeback of their own.
Leo Egbe, who collected more than 60 yards rushing on the night, scored on runs of three and one yards in the first quarter. The second TD was set up by Boyertown recovering the kickoff at Norristown’s 43-yard line, followed by Egbe and Roman Marinello covering 42 yards on runs predominantly up the middle.
Cole Yesavage staked the visitors to their biggest lead of the game after Boyertown got the ball by recovering an Eagle fumble forced by Cole Marinello sacking Carter. Egbe ran 42 yards on a pair of carries before Yesavage went two yards through right tackle 38 seconds into the second quarter.
“There’s no secret what happened tonight,” Boyertown head coach T.J. Miller said. “Norristown has big-play capability. We talked about that all week. They beat us tonight, showing steadfastness.”
With 3:27 left to play and trailing by two scores, the Bears showed their own steadfastness. Anthony Panarello made a big 22-yard connection to Luke Ordway on fourth down to get Boyertown to the Norristown eight, and the duo teamed up for a seven-yard scoring pass that cut the deficit to 33-28.
An attempted onside kick was covered by the Eagles’ Adam Moffitt at the Eagle 37 with 2:38 left, but the Bears mounted a stout defense that forced a turnover of the ball on downs at the Norristown 46. Their hopes for a comeback win died out, though, after three incomplete passes and a sack by Trey Holmes.
Two kneel downs by Carter later, Norristown was celebrating a long-awaited win.
“The kids never quit,” Miller said. “But Norristown is a better team than their oh-and-8 record. We didn’t have a pass rush, and we’re better than that. Hats off to them.”
Carter went 8-for-13 for 113 yards. Arthur, who also had three carries for 52 yards, was on the receiving end of five of Carter’s tosses for 86 yards.
“We had high hopes coming out,” Milligan said, “but then we got beat by 150 points. This (win) raises the school’s spirit.”
For the Bears, Roman Marinello and Egbe both rushed for more than 60 yards in their team’s predominantly rushing offense. Panarello had only two pass completions for 29 yards, both of them going to Ordway.
NOTES: Ordway had a sack of Carter to close out the first half’s action. … Norristown missed tying Boyertown after its third touchdown when Brett Murphy’s conversion kick was blocked by the Bears’ Matthew Cavalari. … In the Homecoming ceremony at halftime, Sudan Wray was crowned queen and Jhonny Cedillos king.