The Number 19
By Bruce Darrow
Saturday’s weather called for early fog giving way to perfect late morning sunshine, the playing field was decorated in honor of Marc Ryan as a Marine Flag flew beneath the American flag. This true story of an American Hero was beginning to unfold in the City of Gloucester. As the family, of Gloucester’s Fallen Hero Marc Ryan, Mother Linda, Father Tom, Sister Lauren and Brother Chris gathered in the GHS gymnasium for the retirement of Marc Ryan’s football number 19 the early clouds gave way to an unsuspected down pour outside.
As the GHS Families and friends surrounded the local media outlets covering the dedication, Principal Jack Don presented the Ryan Family to the public. A composed Linda Ryan spoke of her son Marc Ryan’s tenure at GHS. As Linda spoke the quietness was only overcome by both the patter of the falling rain and the tears from those in attendance.
photo by Bruce Darrow-
Coach Leon Harris, Linda Ryan and Principal Jack Don.
One by one member’s of the Ryan Family spoke, then Gloucester’s Coach Leon Harris took the stage and gave a terrific speech filled with memories and love of Marc Ryan. Coach Harris finished his speech by referring to the rain that this is Marc’s kind of weather and you know he is watching. As the Ryan Family unveiled the shining white #19 dedicated jersey, magically the rain stopped.
The Lions opening kickoff was recovered and returned by Penns Grove’s #19 Jay Brown. Both Gloucester and Penns Grove fought in the trenches Marc Ryan during a scoreless first quarter.
In the second quarter Penns Grove took the first lead 7 – 0 on Aaron Haywards 55 yard touchdown run. Both teams traded field position throughout much of the first half until Gloucester’s Kyle Stewart rushed 33 yards for the touchdown to close the score 7 – 6 under the Marine Flag SEMPER Fi #19 flag. Penns Grove’s responded immediately as Darien Surrency scored on a 43 yard touchdown pass from Jon Coppage to give the Grove a 13 – 6 with 1:16 remaining in the first halftime. As the clocked ticked to 0:00 Penns Grove left for the halftime with a 13 – 6 lead.
After an emotional halftime presentation of a #19 jersey to the Ryan family, the Lions looked to extend the honor on the field. After a scoreless third quarter, the Lions hopes of a win would go through the SEMPER Fi endzone.
In the fourth Penns Grove took a punt return by Aaron Hayward 60 yards then he handed the ball to #19 Jay Brown where he was tackled at the Lions 16 yardline. But after a lost fumble by Penns Grove the Lions returned the favor on the next play at their own 16 yard line when they fumbled.
With 6:50 remaining Jon Coppage threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to give Penns Grove a seemingly winnable 21 – 6 lead. Slowly the solid Lions fan base headed towards the gates.
Quickly time passed and after the snap to the Penns Grove punter was mishandled the Lions took over at the Penns Grove 12 yardline with 1:26 remaining. With the Lion’s trailing 21 – 6 the sun suddenly burst through and shined down on the GHS field.
As the intensity grew, a sudden rebirth of the “Old Gloucester Pride” began to filter throughout the entire stadium. The Lions used this solar power from the sun as a guiding light. The Lions used 60 seconds to score on a 16 yard touchdown pass and two point conversion from Steve Goad to Robert Filer to close the gap to 21 -14 with 1:26 remaining in the game.
Faced with the need to recover an on-side kick, the Marc Ryan pride filtered through each player and coach.. This air of confidence spilled onto the field as Gloucester’s Mike Becker recovered the on sides kick giving the Lions hope.
With :26 remaining and looking into the SEMPER Fi endzone Goad connected with Filer again and Filer fell into the endzone to close the gap 21 – 20. The two point conversion to Mike Becker gave the Lions a hard fought 22 – 21 lead.
As the crowd went wild knowing they were witnessing something special Penns Grove had one last chance. With :19 remaining the Lions pass rush sacked Penns Grove’s QB Jon Coppage and ended the day as predicted “PERFECT”
As players and fans exited the Stadium it was announce that today’s game would be televised on channel 19.
Thank you Marc Ryan as shown you will always be a part of Lions Football.
Note: The feature High School on NBC 10 this Friday at 6:15 PM will be Gloucester City High School