It was a comeback of epic and unprecedented proportions for a team which appeared to be dead in the water — something which Germantown Academy has almost gotten used to being for the past 12 years when going up against Penn Charter, its biggest rival.
But in stepped Hayes Nolte, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound senior quarterback, playing in his final game with the Patriots, and playing with the mindset that he and his team were not going to go out without a fight.
And thanks to a near-perfect day offensively for Nolte, along with four GA touchdowns in a span of only 12 minutes, 14 seconds, the Patriots somehow managed to come out victorious, scoring 28 unanswered points to complete a 42-35 come-from-behind win over the Quakers in the 127th annual PC/GA Day at Penn Charter's Stadium Field on Saturday afternoon.
In the longest running interscholastic rivalry in the nation, the Patriots (6-4, 2-3) shocked the overflow crowd by defeating Penn Charter (4-6, 1-4) for the first time since 2000, a span which saw the Quakers win 12 consecutive games over GA.
"This campus needed this,' GA coach Matt Dence said. "To always feel second fiddle, at least football-wise, to our biggest rival is not a great feeling. Our kids made a decision that this year we were going to change it and we have a great senior class that worked together and pulled together and trained and worked hard and this is why they worked.
"This is the new GA and it's a mindset. It's an attitude that comes down to talented football players making great plays.'
That strong senior class was led on Saturday by Nolte, along with wide receiver Kyle Donahue and running back Riley Kordek, who were responsible for a bulk of the Patriots' offense on the afternoon.
Despite opening the game with an 87-yard kickoff return by Kordek and a one-yard touchdown run by Nolte two plays later, Penn Charter took over, going up 21-7 at the half. In the third quarter, the Quakers saw James Biggs-Frazier score his third touchdown of the day to put Penn Charter up 35-14.
It appeared as if the Penn Charter winning streak would continue, but Nolte and his teammates didn't give up.
"At the half, we said they punched us in the mouth in the first half and last year's team and the last 12 years of teams might've given up, but we wanted to preach that this was the new GA,' said Nolte, whose performance lifted him to be the school's all-time passing leader by the end of the day. "We wanted to play a great second half and it was amazing to get the win. There are a lot of great players at GA and coming in, we were confident.'
Nolte led an offense that saw Kordek score twice before the end of the third quarter and then Donahue catch a 33-yard touchdown pass from Nolte to tie things up at 35-35. Junior Ryan Calhoun ran in a score from three yards out at the 7:02 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Patriots on top.
With less than three minutes to play in regulation and Penn Charter knocking on the door from the two-yard line, the GA defense made its biggest stop of the year, forcing a fumble just inches from the goal line to help the Patriots regain possession and eventually run out the clock for the win.
"We go into every game thinking we're the better team and we believed that all the way,' Nolte said. "They didn't have an answer for us in the second half and we kept going. Our defense made huge stops, we made big plays and that led to points.'
Nolte's record- breaking day saw the senior rush 16 times for 40 yards and two touchdowns, while also being almost perfect through the air, completing 17 of 20 passes for 282 yards and another score.
"Hayes (Nolte) is going to go down as one of the great quarterbacks in Inter-Ac history,' Dence said. "He's one of only seven QBs to throw for 3,000 yards and he's also a great person. He's an all-Inter-Ac person, not just on the field. He's a special kid.'
Nolte finished his senior year by throwing for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 441 yards and another nine scores.
The Patriots, who were also coming off a huge 41-23 win over Springside-Chestnut Hill from last week, a win which snapped a 15-game in-league losing streak for GA, also saw Donahue play one of his best games of the season. The senior caught a game-high seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Kordak rushed 15 times for 62 yards and a score, while Calhoun rushed 10 times for 19 yards and a touchdown.
Biggs-Frazier led the way for the Quakers, rushing 32 times for a whopping 265 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a 15-yard score on a halfback option play in the first half.
The all-time record between GA and Penn Charter now sits at 82-34-11 in favor of the Quakers, while the two teams split the overall events for the day, with each school winning five sporting events on Saturday.
An extremely emotional Dence said it best after his team celebrated with its fans, who rushed the field after the final second ticked off the clock.
"We just had to find a way to make plays and not get denied,' he said. "We didn't make any adjustments at halftime. We knew what we had to do on both sides of the football and we did that. This was a huge day for our players and for Germantown Academy as a whole.'
Germantown Academy 7 0 21 14—42
Penn Charter 14 7 14 0—35
GA — Nolte 1 run (Altman kick)
PC — Kelley 94 kickoff return (Regan kick)
PC — Perri 15 pass from Biggs-Frazier (Regan kick)
PC — Bergmann 9 pass from Hnatkowsky (Regan kick)
PC — Biggs-Frazier 43 run (Regan kick)
GA — Nolte 10 run (Altman kick)
PC - Biggs-Frazier 57 run (Regan kick)
GA — Kordek 15 run (Altman kick)
GA — Kordek 6 run (Altman kick)
GA — Donahue 33 pass from Nolte (Altman kick)
GA — Calhoun 3 run (Altman kick)
First downs 23 16
Rushing yards 115 273
Passing yards 282 84
Total yards 397 357
Passing 17-20-0 5-7-0
Fumbles-lost 3-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 2-18 7-68
Punts-avg. 2-36.5 3-35.33
Germantown Academy: Nolte 16-40, 2 TD; Kordek 15-62, 2 TD; Calhoun 10-19, TD; Davis 2-3; TEAM 1-(-9).
Penn Charter: Biggs-Frazier 31-265, 2TD; Kelley 7-17; Hnatkowsky 4-(-16); Hodges 2-7.
Germantown Academy: Nolte 17-20-0, 282, TD.
Penn Charter: Biggs-Frazier 1-1-0, 15, TD; Hnatkowsky 4-6-0, 69, TD.
Germantown Academy: Donahue 7-130, TD; Derham 2-20; Davis 3-59; Arsenault 3-51; Anthony 1-0; Kordek 1-2.
Penn Charter: Kelley 2-34; Perri 1-15, TD; Bergmann 1-9, TD; Roseman 1-26.
Germantown Academy: Donahue 1, McGettigan 1. Penn Charter: Keehfuss 1.5, Bergmann 0.5.