WEST LAWN — With just two seconds left on the clock at John Gurski Stadium, all eyes turned toward the end zone. After moving the ball 59 yards down the field with long completions to Avanti Lockhart and Matt Fry, Wilson quarterback Kaleb Brown watched his pass fall incomplete.
But as his receiver fell to the turf, a flag hit the ground a few yards away, penalizing visiting Harrisburg for pass interference. The call set up Wilson with one final untimed play from the 6-yard line with its season on the line.
Brown rolled to his right and fired across the middle to Lockhart, but the ball bounced just out of the senior's reach and closed a 33-29 victory for Harrisburg in the District Three Class 6A football semifinals.
Harrisburg advanced to next Friday's championship game opposite Central Dauphin, a 35-34 double-overtime winner over Manheim Township. Wilson's season ended at 10-2.
“I'd rather get beat by three touchdowns,” Wilson coach Doug Dahms said with a laugh. “Then you can't sit there and say, 'Oh, we had a chance.' Now all you do, all winter long, is look at a couple of busted coverages, a couple of dropped balls, but what are you going to do? We gave ourselves a chance. We took it down there and we didn't make the play.”
Things started off rough for top-seeded Wilson, with Nateur Dennis intercepting Brown on the third play of the game. No. 4 Harrisburg (9-3) didn't get much farther on its possession, forced to punt on fourth down, as the teams traded big stops in a scoreless first quarter.
Mason Lenart put Wilson on the board 30 seconds into the second quarter, plunging into the end zone from a yard out. Harrisburg answered right back with a 25-yard touchdown pass from John McNeil to Trevion Carey two minutes later.
Lockhart gave Wilson its first lead in the final three minutes of the half. Taking a swing pass from Brown, Lockhart broke a pair of tackles and rumbled in from 42 yards out. Harrisburg again found the end zone, but Adam Vanino stepped in to block the extra point and give the Bulldogs a 21-20 lead at halftime.
Instead of turning to the big strike through the passing game, Harrisburg turned toward the ground and ate up the first eight minutes of the second quarter en route to a 5-yard touchdown run from Tymek Everett-Evans and a five-point lead.
Lockhart pulled Wilson back ahead with this third touchdown of the night, spinning out of a tackle and lowering his shoulder to power into the end zone from 6 yards out. But Harrisburg got the ball back with six minutes to play and Everett-Evans pulled the pile into the end zone with him for the game-winning score.
“We battled,” Dahms said. “That's a good football team. We slowed them down. We battled to the end and that's all you can do. Unfortunately, it wasn't our night tonight.”