Gators Return Three Kicks for TDs in Victory
Barnes, Keith, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Cameron Saddler could not have picked a better time to return to the Gateway lineup.
Saddler scored three touchdowns, including two kickoff returns, and Brian Williams saved the game with a 62-yard kickoff return for another score with 14.1 seconds to play in the game to help No. 2 Gateway to a 37-36 win over No. 8 Norwin on Friday at Norwin Knights Stadium.
"This was a lot like last year at Plum, with Cameron Saddler coming off an injury, and we're just trying to work him into shape, and the game dictates that he has to play," Gateway coach Terry Smith said. "He made some great plays and, that last play of the game with Brian Williams that may just be the best play I've ever seen."
What made the Williams kickoff return even more dramatic was that Norwin (2-2) had just taken the lead with 34.9 seconds remaining when quarterback Alex Dennison hit Division I receiving prospect Mike Shanahan with an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Knights a 36-31 advantage.
"I didn't imagine them bringing three kickoffs back," Norwin coach Dan Conwell said. "They have some great athletes that made some great plays. We had an opportunity and, give them credit, they made the play when they had to."
Saddler, who is being recruited by several Division I colleges, had not played since the season opening loss to Cardinal Mooney in the Kirk Herbstreit Classic in Ohio. In that game, in front of a national television audience, he carried 14 times for 126 yards and a touchdown, but suffered a pulled hamstring and had to sit out the last two weeks.
He quickly made up for lost time. He carried four times for 30 yards and a touchdown in the first half, returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a score, then after a Norwin touchdown, he brought one back 87 for another score.
In fact, Gateway's offense did not take the field in the second half until 11:51 remained in the fourth quarter.
Shanahan connected with quarterback Alex Dennison for scoring strikes of 31, 2, 7 and 20 yards and finished with six catches for 126 yards. …