It was a touching moment on a high school football field near Pittsburgh when a player with autism helped end the season on a high note.
Valley High School junior Zach Clarke scored his first-ever touchdown, thanks in part to players from both sides of the field.
“I just ran up the middle and I was gone,” Clarke said. “I scored.”
The athletic departments from both Valley and Freeport schools worked the heartwarming end to the season out before Friday’s game.
“I said, ‘I’ll give you the ball and you run to the end zone,’ and he said, ‘All right,’” quarterback Phillip Petit said.
Players from both teams celebrated with Clarke and carried him off the field on their shoulders. The crowd went wild cheering for Clarke, as well.
“The coaches were crying. The fans were crying. Everybody was crying,” Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo said.
The touchdown meant a lot to Clarke’s parents, who were at the game.
“I said to my husband, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s in,’” Clarke’s mother, Kathy Clarke, said. “And then, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s running for a touchdown.’”
The game’s final score: Freeport 39, Valley 30. The game was played at James E. Swartz Memorial Field in Freeport, Pennsylvania. Freeport is about 40 miles outside Pittsburgh in Armstrong County.
“It’s definitely one of the moments that will live in my mind forever,” said Freeport quarterback Andrew Romanchack. “It was a moment that changes a person.”