Chase Cavanaugh leads Loyalsock to 21-14 win over Lewisburg
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SELINSGROVE – It’s been a challenging season for Loyalsock. The Lancers got a late start to the season due to COVID-19, and then have battled several injuries to some key players throughout the season.
Even so, heading into the final week of the shortened regular season on Friday, Loyalsock was in position to get the final playoff berth in District Class 3A, but couldn’t be sure unless they came away with a win against Lewisburg.
Much like the seasons, nothing was certain until after the clock ran out, but when it did, Loyalsock came away with 21-14 win over the Green Dragons and with it, a berth in the 3A playoffs.
“We’re down 22 guys from the start of the year due to a series of different things, but the kids came out to play,” said Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out there learning on the go, but I’m so proud of them. I said the thing I’ll remember about this team triumphing over adversity and finding a way when things were down to take care of business. Their will is something that’s going to be remembered.
“We’ve never missed the district playoffs since I’ve been here and I would have hated a pandemic to have caused us to miss it, so we’re in the tournament and when you’re in, things can happen and off you go, so we’re going to be ready to play.”
What looked like it may be a shootout early turned into a stalemate after a furious start, and three plays in particular likely ended up being the difference. Two of those plays came in the fourth quarter and one late in the second. With Lewisburg leading 14-7 and appearing like it might ride the quick start into a halftime lead, Chase Cavanaugh hit Rian Glunk on a short sideline pattern on a third-and-6 play, appearing to get a first down but not much more as Glunk was near the sideline and surrounded by at least three Lewisburg defenders. But Glunk managed to escape several missed tackles and elude the sideline, and he went 66 yards for a touchdown, which tied the game 14-14 with 2:22 before the half.
Cavanaugh finished with 271 yards of total offense – 99 rushing and 172 passing.
With the game still tied about midway through the fourth quarter after both teams essentially stalemated following that touchdown, Loyalsock took over at its own 39 following Lewisburg’s only turnover of the game. On the second play of the drive, Cavanaugh took the ball himself and gained 17 yards before going out of bounds – where he was tackled by Jack Landis, resulting in a 15-yard penalty, and then another half-the-distance penalty of 12 yards was assessed to Lewisburg for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the Lancers a first down at the Lewisburg 12-yard line. Four plays later, Cavanaugh found the end zone again from a yard out, giving the Lancers their first lead of the game.
“That was a critical point in the game giving up those two fouls on the same play and it was a scoring drive, so would they have scored – nobody knows, but that is hard to recover from,” said Lewisburg’s Mark Burrows, who served as the team’s coach for the game as head coach Marc Persing was unable to attend.
The Green Dragons then took their ensuing drive and had a fourth-and-3 from their own 44 to extend their drive and attempt to tie. Cam Michaels took a handoff and was met with a wall of Lancer defenders around the right side of the line, so he reserved field and attempted to get the first down around the left side, but was stopped at the sideline just shy for a two-yard gain, which gave the Lancers the ball back near midfield, and they picked up a pair of first downs to run out the clock.
“That fourth-down stop was a thing of beauty,” said Van Fleet. “We had a freshman corner sprint across the field. We had a defensive tackle, Jeffrey Hamilton, go from his interior tackle position, run as hard as he could to make him (Michaels) think and then Jalen Andrews zipped across the field and made a great play.”
The turnaround for Loyalsock late followed a furious start to the game that looked like it might turn into a shootout. Lewisburg scored on its first two possessions of the game, which were sandwiched around a Lewisburg touchdown. The Green Dragons amassed six total first downs on their first two drives, but only seven for the remainder of the game.
The Green Dragons went 51 yards in eight plays on their first drive, capped by a Max Moyers seven-yard touchdown. On that drive, Michaels picked up 48 of his 90 rushing yards on the night.
Loyalsock then got a 77-yard kickoff return by Naz Smith to start their first drive at the Lewisburg 21, and then needed just four plays for Cavanaugh to find the end zone from a yard out to tie the game.
Moyers then ripped off a 53-yard touchdown run on the third play of Lewisburg’s next drive to give the Green Dragons the lead back 14-7 with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
“We put our free safety (and quarterback) at mike linebacker and he played a heck of a good mike linebacker for the rest of the game,” said Van Fleet. “Chase Cavanaugh is about the toughest human being anyone will ever meet.”
But that would be all until Glunk’s 66-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter, as the teams traded punts or turning it over on downs for most of the remainder of the first quarter and second quarter, and the teams did much of the same in the third and first part of the fourth quarters.
“We didn’t execute as well, their defense obviously adjusted to what we were doing, and when we get backed up due to a penalty, we’re not in great shape,” said Burrows. “Our defense played well, but we just couldn’t make the plays when we needed to make them. We tried to take away what they do best and for the most part, I think we did that, but they hit us with that big play in the second quarter and we couldn’t get off the field on some third-and longs a few times and eventually, that will catch up to you.”
Loyalsock 21, Lewisburg 14
Loyalsock (4-2) 7 7 0 7 – 21
Lewisburg (1-6) 14 0 0 0 – 14
8:34 – (LE) Max Moyers 7-yard run (Dieffenderfer kick), 8-51, 3:26
7:05 – (LO) Chase Cavanaugh 1-yard run (Barone kick), 4-21, 1:29
5:45 – (LE) Max Moyers 53-yard run (Dieffenderfer kick), 3-64, 1:20
2:22 – (LO) Rian Glunk 66-yard pass from Chase Cavanaugh (Barone kick), 3-70, 1:14
6:51 – (LO) Chase Cavanaugh 1-yard run (Barone kick), 6-61, 2:26
First downs 18 13
Rushes-net yards 37-114 43-257
Passing yardage 172 23
Passing 10-26-1-1 2-7-0-1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 1-10 9-67
RUSHING: Loyalsock: Chase Cavanaugh (23-99-2), Nick Barone (9-33), TEAM (3-(-3)), JerVal Weeks-Shuler (1-(-3)), Naz Smith (1-(-12)); Lewisburg: Max Moyers (21-137-2), Cam Michaels (15-90), Ethan Dominick (7-30)
PASSING: Loyalsock: Chase Cavanaugh (10-26-172-1-1) ; Lewisburg: Ethan Dominick (2-6-23-0-0), Cam Michaels (0-1-0-0-1)
RECEIVING: Loyalsock: Rian Glunk (5-119-1), Naz Smith (2-25), Logan Bastian (1-17), Tyler Gee (1-7), Nick Barone (1-4); Lewisburg: Simeon Beiler (1-20), Jack Landis (1-3)
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