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Lake Lehman edges Holy Redeemer on late score 22-20

Written by: on Saturday, September 17th, 2022. Follow Mitch Rupert on Twitter.


LEHMAN TWP. — A singular yellow flag landed among a group of Holy Redeemer defenders celebrating and quickly their joy turned somber. The Royals’ defense appeared to have stopped Lake-Lehman receiver Landon Schukers a yard short of the first down on a fourth-down screen pass late in Friday’s game.

But that singular yellow flag changed everything. A targeting call on Redeemer’s Jake Griffin was going to be enough to give the Black Knights a first down. The subsequent three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties assessed on the Royals for arguing the call not only extended Lake-Lehman’s drive, but it placed the ball at the Redeemer 1-yard line.

It took just one play for Black Knights running back Javon Borger to plunge into the end zone with the game-tying touchdown. He then did so again to get the two-point conversion to give Lehman its first win of the season, 22-20, over Holy Redeemer. In an ugly display of high school football, Lake-Lehman got off the schneid after a brutal first three weeks of the season to earn its first victory. Holy Redeemer, which was coming off a surprising win over Tunkhannock, committed 26 penalties for 163 yards and fell to 2-2.

“We had to get a ‘W,’” Lake-Lehman coach Jerry Gilsky said. “It was an ugly game on both sides. We just kept fighting.”
“It was rough,” Holy Redeemer coach Tyson Kelly said. “The last couple minutes were chaotic, but we fought hard. We can’t control the flags that are thrown. We just tried to do our best and work with the adversity we faced.”

The targeting foul called with just under 2 minutes to play and Holy Redeemer holding a 20-14 lead was the most costly of the 18 penalties levied against the Royals in the second half of Friday’s game. Seven of those penalties were of the false start or illegal procedure variety. The Royals had nobody to blame for surrendering a 14-point lead but themselves last night. Those penalties helped an offense that had rolled up 170 first-half yards stall mightily. A bad punt snap set Lake-Lehman up with first down at the Redeemer 1-yard line which turned into a Knights touchdown.

But despite all the mistakes which plagued the Royals, they still held a six-point lead on Lake-Lehman with under 4 minutes to play because it had two of the best athletes on the field. Quarterback Jacob Hunter (263 yards, 2 TDs) found receiver Zach Perta (7 receptions, 149 yards, 2 TDs) on a scramble drill for a 60-yard touchdown pass on a second-and-25 snap to break a 14-all tie.

“Jacob Hunter is special. I get excited when he scrambles. People are starting to find out he’s a stud,” Kelly said. “When he starts to improvise, he knows what he’s doing and he’s very good at what he does. It scares the crap out of me in the best way possible.”

But a winless Lake-Lehman team didn’t buckle. It did get some help, first when a late hit 5 yards out of bounds prompted a personal foul penalty on third-and-16 to extend the Black Knights’ ensuing drive. All hell broke loose when Lehman quarterback Gavin Wallace hit Schuckers on a screen pass on fourth-and-8. Schuckers angled toward the sideline and was met in a violent collision with Redeemer linebacker Griffin. The hit was helmet-to-helmet and the back judge immediately threw his flag to call targeting.

The penalty was compounded when Griffin threw his own helmet from the hash mark to the sideline for another unsportsmanlike penalty. Kelly was then hit with another unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing the play. And another Redeemer player was hit for a third unsportsmanlike penalty on the play for arguing with the back judge.

The four penalties totaled only 15 yards because they were all half-the-distance penalties, but it was enough to move the ball to the 1-yard line and give the Knights a chance to tie the game. Borger’s touchdown run and an ensuing two-point conversion run helped to make up for two fumbles earlier in the game, one of which led to a Redeemer touchdown.

The senior running back finished with 140 rushing yards on 22 carries, including the two touchdowns.

“I always tell a kid when they make a mistake, they have to find a way to make up for it,” Gilsky said. “When you’re a senior, you want that memory and I want to give that memory to a kid, and he made up for those mistakes. He needed to know we have the trust in him to go make up for those mistakes.”

“It’s a learning experience,” Redeemer coach Tyson Kelly said. “There were a lot of penalties, and I don’t know how fair all of them were, but it is what it is. We didn’t play our best football tonight. We just had a tough one.”

Redeemer had 1:37 on the clock after Borger’s go-ahead points to try and mount a rally. But playing without Perta, who was injured just after his touchdown, the Royals’ offense just couldn’t find a spark to get downfield. In fact, a false start and an intentional grounding penalty backed the Royals up to their own 1-yard line with under 30 seconds to go.

Holy Redeemer outgained Lake-Lehman, 334-221. It also had a 17-10 advantage in first downs. But there were just too many mistakes to overcome in the end.

“We’re going to take this as a learning experience as a group,” Kelly said. “We’re going to use it to get better.”
On the flip side, Lake-Lehman is hoping to use it as a springboard into the rest of the season after starting 0-3 for the first time since 2011.

“This group needed a win,” Gilsky said. “When I asked how everyone feels, they said exhausted or hurt. But I asked if it was worth it, and they all said hell yeah. We need to learn how to win. And this was a good step.”

Lake-Lehman 22, Holy Redeemer 20
Holy Redeemer 0 14 0 6 — 20
Lake-Lehman 0 0 14 8 — 22

Second Quarter
HR – Josh Wesneski 5 run (Tyler Tarnalicki kick), 11:12
HR – Zach Perta 22 pass from Jacob Hunter (Tarnalicki kick), 4:07

Third Quarter
LL – Javon Borger 1 run (Borger run), 4:37
LL – Landon Schuckers 12 pass from Gavin Wallace (run failed), :47

Fourth Quarter
LL – Javon Borger 1 run (Borger run), 1:38

First Downs 17 10
Rushes-Yards 42-71 28-150
Comp-Att-Int 14-33-0 6-15-2
Passing 263 71
Total Yards 334 221
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 26-163 6-69

Individual statistics

Rushing: Holy Redeemer – Jacob Hunter, 19-35; Josh Wesneski, 15-33, TD; Zach Perta, 4-11; Louis Lussi, 1-8; DJ McDermott, 1-0; Team, 2-(-16). Lake-Lehman — Javon Borger, 22-140, 2 TDs; Gavin Wallace, 4-10; Brandon Ritinski, 1-1; Landon Schuckers, 1-(-1).

Passing: Holy Redeemer — Jacob Hunter, 14-32-0, 263 yds., 2 TDs; Team, 0-1-0. Lake-Lehman — Gavin Wallace, 6-14-1, 71 yds., TD; Landon Schuckers, 0-1-1.

Receiving: Holy Redeemer — Zach Perta, 7-149, 2 TDs; Jake Griffin, 2-38; Yovanny Martinez, 2-18; Josh Wesneski, 1-37; DJ McDermott, 1-11; Louis Lussi, 1-10. Lake-Lehman — Ben Dowling, 2-29; Landon Schuckers, 2-19, TD; Chris Sholtis, 1-13; Gavin Paraschak, 1-10.

INTERCEPTIONS — Holy Redeemer, Luke Kopec (2).

Records: Lake-Lehman (1-3); Holy Redeemer (2-2).

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