Rising Sun's longshot playoff hopes had been dashed the night before when Parkside walloped Washington, but the focused Tigers still took care of business.
Susquehanna Division champion Rising Sun finishes the season 7-3 after winning just one game last year.
"It's been a fantastic season," Rising Sun coach Clem Vaughan said. "I couldn't be more proud of these guys, the way they worked in the offseason and came after it. They were receptive to change and came in after it."
Fullback Noah Boyd capped off an outstanding season with 219 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries.
"It was absolutely amazing," Boyd said. "It meant everything to me. This season, it was mind-blowing. What we expected was just change. From the beginning, we just expected a change. We expected to be better and that's what happened. Total turnaround in seasons. A great way to end it off, especially. Just mind-blowing what happened."
Boyd finished his junior season with 1,844 yards and 26 touchdowns on 239 carries.
"I would say the key is to keep them guessing with the coaches and the line keep on opening the holes, keep on churning," said Boyd. "Not losing the one-on-one battles and then overall you're going to win the head-to-head matchup with the team."
Boyd sensed something positive was brewing when workouts began in February.
"All the people that were in there. All the people that were coming out just showed me that we wanted to win," Boyd said. "We wanted to change."
The change was once again evident in the season finale.
The Tigers took a 6-0 lead on Cole Stafford's 19-yard TD jaunt on the first play of the second quarter.
The ensuing kickoff was a low line drive which caromed off the leg of a North East blocker and was recovered by Rising Sun's Josh Moskes near midfield.
Aided by a North East offsides penalty on a 4th and 4, the Tigers embarked on a 13-play TD drive, culminating with a one-yard plunge by Boyd. Boyd added a two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
Rising Sun was robbed of three points because of an egregious error by the officiating crew.
Dakota Douglas booted a 26-yard field goal on the final play of the half to, temporarily, give the Tigers a 17-0 lead.
North East coaches complained the field goal had come on a "fifth down". That was not the case. Rising Sun had a first down on the Indians' 13. Boyd gained six yards on back-to-back plays for a first and goal on the 1. On the next play, Rising Sun was whistled for an illegal shift. The play did not count and the ball was pushed back to the 6. The Tigers lost eight yards on the following play. On third and goal from the 14, quarterback Eric Williams hit Stafford for a five-yard gain to the 9. On fourth down (yes, fourth down), Douglas kicked the field goal.
The officials huddled during the entire length of the halftime break to either debate the series of events or discuss dinner reservations at Woody's. Eventually, and incorrectly, they took the three points off the scoreboard. "I was not happy about that scenario," Vaughan said. "I flat out told them I am not going to be happy if this is the difference in this game, I can tell you that right now. They said, 'Watch the film. You'll see it on the film.' Well, our [coaches in the press box] already watched the film and it was fourth down. They totally got talked into it. It baffled me. Never in my career have I ever seem somebody take points off the board. Interesting."
Boyd helped ensure the stolen three points did not play a role in the outcome. He galloped 65 yards for a TD to lengthen the lead to 21-0 with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
North East trimmed their deficit down to 21-7 on a three-yard run by Jachai Graham with 10:32 remaining.
The Indians stopped the Tigers on fourth down at midfield and had a chance to make things interesting. But Rising Sun's Ross Lunsford pounced on an errant shotgun snap and Cade Eyman scored from nine yards out with 6:08 remaining to seal the deal.
Now, the challenge becomes proving this season was not an aberration and becoming perennial playoff contenders.
"We need to have the kids working in the offseason," Vaughan said. "That's what I told them, the underclassmen, it doesn't stop now. We got to keep moving forward. So we start hitting the weight room after Thanksgiving and away we go."