NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Schuylkill County Coal Crackers' perfect season came to a crashing halt Saturday afternoon at the Simon Kramer Institute.
The local semi-pro football team's dreams of playing for a Colonial Football Alliance championship were dashed as the Coal Crackers were driving for a winning score in overtime of their league semifinal playoff game against York.
Instead, the Silver Bullets ended things when defensive back Zack Reider intercepted a Tim McFarland pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown to give York an 18-12 overtime victory.
During their unbeaten regular season, the Coal Crackers defeated York 43-22 in a Week 6 game.
"I saw the play coming, picked it off and ran as hard as I could," said Reider, who played high school football for York Suburban. "There was nothing but daylight. A dream comes true. My first pick for a touchdown ever."
Reider's big play ended the Coal Crackers' promising season, one in which they completed a 10-0 regular season and earned home-field advantage throughout the CFA playoffs.
However, Saturday's game was Schuylkill County's first since Oct. 9, and the layoff might have had an effect. The Coal Crackers were held to just 64 yards of total offense, and rushed the ball 21 times for minus-2 yards.
"Every time we had an opportunity to take momentum, we just didn't take it," Schuylkill County coach Tom McCarroll said. "We made more mistakes execution-wise today than we did our whole season."
The game featured two lead changes and two ties before the game-winning points were scored.
York (9-3) only produced 74 yards of offense, but got on the scoreboard first when Johnny Moore's 1-yard touchdown gave the Silver Bullets a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The score came three plays after Zack Carrick returned a punt 76 yards to the Schuylkill County 2-yard line.
The Coal Crackers had several drives stall on downs after falling behind, but finally notched a game-tying score on a 6-yard run by James Emerson. Emerson's score was set up by a fumble recovery on the previous play.
The Silver Bullets regained the momentum by scoring a touchdown before halftime on a 14-yard pass from Gregg Murray to Terrance McClatchey to take a 12-6 lead.
York might have been able to make that score stand up the rest of the game with the way Schuylkill County's offense kept sputtering.
But the Coal Crackers' defense delivered in the third quarter when Anario Thompson picked off a Murray pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 12.
The game remained tied into overtime before Reider ended the Coal Crackers' dreams with his interception return.
"I'm not going to make excuses. We executed all season," McCarroll said. "We had opportunities to make plays and take momentum. We just didn't finish. We didn't show up in a playoff atmosphere. But the organization has grown leaps and bounds and I'm very proud of that."