By Pat Leonard
For the Inquirer
In what could be the final football game North Catholic ever plays, the Falcons Thursday appropriately won their 80th annual Thanksgiving game with city-rival Frankford, 28-22, in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion.
Down 22-21 with 1 minute, 7 seconds remaining, North Catholic quarterback Anthony Reid engineered a 7-play, 62-yard drive which he finished in style with a 25-yard touchdown pass to tailback Eugene Byrd with 13 seconds to play.
“If it’s gotta go out one way, this is one way,” said Bill Systma, the elated North Catholic wide receivers coach, after the go-ahead touchdown.
Senior John McCarthy’s extra point was true, and the Falcons defense stayed firm on Frankford’s final play from scrimmage.
Reid, a junior, completed 14 of 24 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for a one-yard score, as North Catholic (7-5) won the 82d meeting between the schools.
Frankford had won 12 of the previous 16 meetings, including the previous two, but North Catholic improved its lead in the all-time series to 43-35-4 and 42-34-4 in the Thanksgiving Series.
Byrd amassed 183 total yards from scrimmage, carrying the ball 30 times for 146 yards and making four catches for 37-yards, including the game-winning touchdown.
With 8:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, Falcons backup sophomore tailback Taishan Tucker bulldozed for a 5-yard touchdown, and after a Frankford penalty North Catholic attempted a questionable two-point conversion, which the Pioneers' defense halted to maintain a 14-13 lead.
But North Catholic’s defense forced a three-and-out series, and North Catholic took a 21-14 lead with 2:28 to play on the ensuing drive after a 45-yard run by Byrd set up a beautiful 8-yard pass-and-catch touchdown from Reid to senior wideout Julian Huggins.
Frankford answered immediately, when Pioneers senior running back Jeffione Thomas rattled off the afternoon’s most electrifying play on a 55-yard cutback run for a touchdown with 1:11 to play.
But the Pioneers left too much time on the clock for Reid, who capped a stellar second half (12 for 16 for 167 yards and both touchdowns) with a memorable game-winning drive.
Thomas was the most productive of five ball carriers for Frankford on the day with eight carries for 152 yards.
This series started in 1928 with a 20-7 Frankford victory. The first Thanksgiving Game was in 1930.
1 2 3 4 F
North Catholic 0 0 7 21 28
Frankford 6 8 0 8 22
F: Taron Mills 68 kick return (kick fail)
F: Tyrell Martin 16 run (Martin run)
N: Anthony Reid 1 run (John McCarthy kick)
N: Taishan Tucker 5 run (run fail)
N: Julian Huggins 8 pass from Reid (Reid run)
F: Jeffione Thomas 55 run (Thomas run)
N: Byrd 25 pass from Reid (McCarthy kick)