"We didn't play that well overall," Neely said. "But we fought hard, dug in when we had to. We found a way to win."
The winning series began with 2 minutes, 50 seconds to play, covered 72 yards in 12 plays, and included four first downs. Two plays before Neely's winning catch, on third and 4, a Northeast defender was called for pass interference.
Ghosts coach Tim Sorber realized his mistake-prone squad was fortunate, to say the least, to escape the speedy Vikings.
"That was an ugly, ugly, miserable game for us," Sorber said. "But we're happy that we're 1-0 instead of 0-1."
Phil Gormley, Northeast's second-year boss, was upset with the officiating and what he believed was an asleep-at-the-wheel timekeeper. Curiously, on the game's second-to-last play, a rollout pass by Kretschman, only three seconds ticked off the clock.
"In 22 years of coaching high school football, I don't think I've run into anything as bad as this," Gormley said. "I know I can't ask for more from my kids. They played as hard as they could."
For No. 15-ranked Abington, which trailed by 22-6 late in the second quarter and 28-14 with 41/2 minutes left in the third, senior tailback Juawine Sowell carried 44 times for 238 yards and three TDs.
In his debut as Northeast's QB, Asa Manley rushed 18 times for 187 yards. He scored on second-half jaunts of 78 and 59 yards.
"He's a phenomenal player," said Neely, who doubles as a cornerback. "He was quick and strong. We lost containment on him too many times."
In the first half, Manley found athletic wideout Clayton Rush, who recently transferred from Father Judge, for touchdowns of 11 and 16 yards.
On defense, Abington, which overcame a pair of first-half turnovers, was paced by senior middle linebacker Daron Boone's 11 solo tackles.
Northeast 14 8 6 6 – 34
Abington 0 14 7 14 – 35
N: Rushawn Grange 3 run (Asa Manley run)
N: Clayton Rush 11 pass from Manley (run failed)
A: Juawine Sowell 2 run (pass failed)
N: Rush 16 pass from Manley (Manley run)
A: Sowell 11 run (Chase Lavallie pass from Brett Guaglionona)
N: Manley 78 run (run failed)
A: Sowell 1 run (Matt Bevilacqua kick)
A: Sowell 15 run (Bevilacqua kick)
N: Manley 59 run (pass failed)
A: Jordan Neely 5 pass from David Kretschman (Bevilacqua kick)