LEWISTOWN - Heath Hidlay will come right out and tell you he's not really a quarterback.
But after Mifflin County's offense struggled to produce only 18 yards in the first half against Central Dauphin East, something had to change. Coach George Miskinis went with Hidlay to start the second half, and it paid off.
"I'm not really a quarterback," he said. "But I was confident."
Sentinel photos by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County’s Tim Beck, center, carries the ball while the Huskies’ Derek Yoder (63)?throws a block against a Central Dauphin East defender Friday at Mitchell Field.
That confidence led to the Huskies' offense beginning to find its stride late in the second half. And when Hidlay connected with John Michael Maclay for a 29-yard scoring strike with 48 seconds to play, the Huskies had a "signature win."
That capped off the scoring - 15 points in the final 7:50 - for the Huskies en route to stunning Central Dauphin East, 15-12, Friday night at Mitchell Field.
"We came out at halftime and I said we were going to win this game 14-12," Miskinis explained. "I was wrong. It was a signature win."
*Mifflin County travels to State College Oct. 26
And with Mifflin County's offense sputtering from the opening drive, it was difficult to see how the Huskies would overcome a 12-0 deficit following intermission.
"I believe in our kids and they have the heart of a champion," Miskinis said. "Hopefully we get to show that down the road."
The Huskies improve to 4-4, 2-3 in the Commonwealth Division. They will travel to Memorial Field in State College Friday.
The Huskies final two scoring drives were led by Hidlay. In the second half, the new quarterback rushed for 60 yards and threw the game-winning touchdown.
With 9:39 showing on the Mitchell Field clock and Mifflin County down 12-0, Hidlay orchestrated a drive that started on Mifflin County's own 45. Hidlay had runs of 19 and 20 yards, including a 5-yard run on third down.
Then, midway through the fourth, Tim Beck scampered in from five yards out to put the Huskies within striking distance, 12-7.
Mifflin County's defense was strong all evening. Led by Mason Sweitzer and Derek Specht, and a group of strong defenders, the Huskies barely budged. Toward the end of the fourth quarter that was evident.
The Huskies forced back-to-back three and outs inside seven minutes to play to give the home team a chance.
"The defense played lights out," Miskinis said. "They were on the field an awful lot in the first half and didn't budge an inch."
With the switch to Hidlay at quarterback, the Huskies were able to run the ball with him. Using draw plays and designed runs, Hidlay was able to find some openings, especially on the final drive.
Mifflin County took over with 3:13 remaining. It just needed a touchdown to take the lead. And Hidlay was the man for the job.
On a third-and-6, Maclay got behind his defender and hauled in a 37-yard strike from Hidlay to put the ball on the Huskies' 36. Three straight runs by Hidlay set up a fourth down and short opportunity. Mifflin County, which went to an unbalanced line, gave Hidlay room to get seven yards on fourth-and-4 and move the chains and keep the miracle at Mitchell Field alive.
That's when Miskinis and the Husky coaching staff dialed up merely the same play that got Maclay 37 yards just five plays earlier.
"After we hit the first one, John Michael needed a break," Miskinis said. "We were watching the DBs and we rolled Heath out. I told them to just run a fade."
That's exactly what Maclay did. He went up and snagged a perfect pass from Hidlay to put Mifflin County on top.
"He (the defensive back) was pretty even with me," Maclay said. "It was a great throw by Heath and I was able to adjust to it."
But even Maclay admitted that Hidlay isn't exactly a typical quarterback.
"Yeah, he's not exactly a quarterback but that worked tonight," he said.
"I definitely wanted to throw that again," Hidlay said. "I lost my voice - pretty excited about it."
Beck ran in the two-point conversion to put the Huskies up 15-12 with less than a minute to play. And the defense answered the call again.
Campbell Miller picked off Brandon Ross' pass with seven ticks remaining to seal Mifflin County's second Mid-Penn win of the season. That was the last of three interceptions for Mifflin County. Curtis Jerzerick and Maclay had interceptions as well.
In the first half, the Huskies had three fumbles. One of which led to the Panthers first score to make it 6-0.
With 5:00 to play in the second quarter, Central Dauphin East's James Waters returned a punt 55 yards after Mifflin County thought the ball was downed. That led to a Chase Edmonds touchdown run to put the Huskies into the 12-0 hole.
But the Huskies never quit. And that's something that Mifflin County has been doing all season. There is no quit in this bunch. And with a win next week at State College, Mifflin County can put themselves back in the District 6 playoff picture.
"The community was against us (heading into the Mid-Penn)," Maclay said. "We just want them behind us and hopefully this will change their minds a little bit."