E-Town Shows Their Claws As Bears Get Pass Donegal In Season Opener
Let’s talk for a second about rivalry games. Better yet, let’s focus on the topic of backyard rivalry games.
Typically when one thinks about such contests that pit coworker against coworker, neighbor against neighbor, and even family member against family member, chances are they often think of the end of the season with either championships and/or playoff bids hanging in the balance.
Well in the case of high school football fans in the western regions of Lancaster County, there is no such waiting involved when Elizabethtown and Donegal kick off the season against one another in their always anticipated backyard battle that has quickly become a fixture on the opening weekend calendar of Lancaster-Lebanon League football the last handful of years. But this time however, the Bears and Indians had the stage all to themselves as the two kicked off their season in earnest with afitting Saturday afternoon high Noon affair in E-Town.
One of the keys to start a successful season is to start off on the right foot. Well, check and mate for the E-Town Bears on Saturday afternoon.
Sparked by a 3 & Out on their first defensive series, the Bears’offensive troops took to the field 75 yards away from paydirt. And with the theme of starting fast obviously on their minds, the Bears got in gear right from the get-go as E-Town’s towering senior quarterback, Cole Patrick, hooked up with fellow senior Cole Livingston for the 41 yard pitch and catch combination on the first offensive play from scrimmage along the Donegal sideline to get E-Town into an early groove.
From there, the Bears’ initial drive was kept alive by Patrick standing tall both literally and figuratively in the pocket on a key 3rd & 4 from the Donegal 40 yard line with a strike across the middle to Dylan Sweger to move the chains for E-Town.
Ultimately however, the E-Town drive would in style via the ground game as opposed to an air attack with a zig-zagging run bounced outside by senior backer Cole Livingston from 18 yards out to get the Bears on the board first, making it a 7-0 E-Town advantage with 6:57 left to play in the season’s opening quarter.
Undaunted by their host’s early success however, the Donegal offense got back to work and promptly began moving the rock.
And although the drive would get down to the Bears’ 12 yard line, the impressive early series from the Indians’ offensive unit would eventually peter out and stall as the Indians ended up turning the ball over on downs deep inside Bear territory.
Sure, it’d be easy to say that E-Town suddenly found themselves up against the wall being 95 yards away from glory following their defensive stand, but they certainly showed no ill effects of being phased by the task at hand as Cole Patrick proceeded to loft a pass into the picture-perfect blue sky with Dylan Sweger getting behind the Donegal secondary and waiting for the pass to ultimately fall down towards the Earth on the other end as the dynamic senior duo accounted for the 1-play, 95 yard strike toquickly increase E-Town’s margin to a two touchdown advantage with 2:35 left to go in the first quarter of play.
Once the second stanza got underway, the Donegal offense began to finally find their rhythm and start ripping up big chunks of yardage via their bread and butter of the ground game. Case in point, a nice run up the gut by senior fullback Dalton Mullhausen which took the Indians down to the Bears’ 34 yard line. And with the damage of the drive starting to show, the deed was ultimately done courtesy of Donegal’s Zion Gibbs as the shifty 5’8” senior running back crossed the goal line for the Indians’ first score of the season, making it a 14-6 contest following the PAT block by E-Town’s Cole Livingston with 6:10 left to go in the opening half.
Sitting right to the campus of the E-Town High School on this beautiful Saturday afternoon sat the Elizabethtown Fair. And much like the Tilt-A-Whirl sitting just off in the distance, the E-Town offense continued it’s circus-like act as yet another 1-play drive, this one of the 67 yard variety authored by Cole Livingston by way of the jet sweep, upped the E-Town advantage to 21-6 with 5:49 now left in the half.
Whatever you can do, I can do better. At least that appeared to be the mindset of the Donegal offense their next time out as the Indians responded in the quickest of fashions with a 1-play drive of their own as Indians’ signal-caller Dylan Martin found fellow senior classmate Jared Collazo racing past the E-Town defensive secondary for the 75 yard strike to trim E-Town’s lead down to 21-12 with 5:31 left in the first half following a failed 2pt conversion attempt.
And although the first half clock was quickly winding down, 3:50 proved to be just enough time for the Donegal offense to offer another response before the break as the punishing Indian ground game helped pave the wave for numerous 3rd downswithin the drive. However it was the final one, of the 3rd & 1 variety, that ultimately culminated in points for the visitors as Jordan Minick went across the goal line to make it a 21-19 contest with just 8 seconds remaining in the half.
Once again however, it appeared that we had, you guessed it, yet another 1-play drive as Cole Livingston raced 68 yards to the house. Or so it appeared as a pesky yellow flag found itself lying back behind the play on the natural grass surface as a costly block in the back penalty whistled against E-Town marked the end of a truly eventful first half of football.
Even though Donegal found themselves trailing heading into the dressing room at the break, they likely had to love their position of being well within striking distance considering the E-Town offense for a majority of the first half had resembled that of a finely-tuned machine.
However the machine appeared to sputter coming out of the halftime break as the Bears turned it over on their first possession of the second half with Donegal’s AJ McCarty pouncing on the loose pill for the Indians at their own 20 yard line. In the end however, it would be a drive that would end in a punt with the E-Town offense trotting back onto the field at their own 38 yard line.
It took some time and a methodical march down the field, but the Bears would again be able to find the endzone on this drive as well.
However it certainly didn’t appear that it would take any time at all as Cole Patrick lofted a jump ball up to Luke Pierson, who showed off his prowess displayed on the hardwood in nearby Daubert Gymnasium, by rising high into the air to snag the Patrick pass and proceed to rumble the rest of the way for the score on that’s right, the first play of the drive. Unfortunately for those with a rooting interest for the blue-clad Bears, offensive pass interference was called on the play, bringing it all the wayback.
No matter. Getting back to work, Patrick was able to hook up with Cole Rich on a beautifully-timed screen pass to move the ball 43 yards down the field to the Donegal 34 yard line. Tack on a defensive pass interference call later in the drive and E-Town suddenly found themselves knocking on the door at the Indians’ 14 yard line.
And just as he had from the outset of the drive, Luke Pierson found himself on the receiving end of a Cole Patrick touchdown pass as Patrick found his sophomore receiver darting across the middle for the 14 yard simple pitch and catch to increase the E-Town advantage to 28-19 with 3:58 to play in the third quarter.
But they weren’t finished there as far the third quarter was concerned.
Yes, E-Town was able to march down the field on their next offensive series as well with a 6 yard Cole Patrick pass to Elijah Eberly on 4th & Goal being the icing on the cake as E-Town now found themselves with a commanding 35-19 advantage with just a tiny morsel of seconds left to tick off the third quarter clock.
One last quarter to play, but still plenty of time for some offensive fireworks.
Aided by a monstrous 3rd & 7 conversion with the ball resting at their own 37 yard line on the ensuing offensive series, Donegal senior QB Dylan Martin was able to connect with Jared Collazo who proceeded to race down to the E-Town 15 yard line in the early stages of the final quarter.
From there, Zion Gibbs had the honors as the senior scatback raced 15 yards to the house for the Donegal touchdown. And with a successful Dylan Martin 2pt conversion played added in on top of that, the visiting Indians suddenly found themselves back in the thick of things after trimming the lead down to a manageable 35-27 count with 11:06 to go.
It would the Bears just under two minutes to offer a rebuttal as an 18 yard Zach Frank TD jaunt through a semi-truck sized gaping hole along the line upped the E-Town lead back to 42-27 with now 9:28 flashing in red on the scoreboard clock.
For as much success as the E-Town offensive unit had on Saturday afternoon, the Bears’ defense certainly had their bright flashes as well.
And never was that more apparent than with Cole Livingston’s interception while patrolling the defensive backfield on Donegal’s ensuing offensive series, giving the ball back to the high-flying Bears with 70 yards to go.
And get there they would as a 71 yard dart from Patrick to Livingston led to E-Town’s final score of the ballgame, putting the Bears up 49-27 with 6:07 to play.
However Donegal would refuse to wave the white flag in their season opener as the Indians’ next drive would also end in the endzone with Zion Gibbs navigating his way in from 4 yards out to close things out.
Yet it would be E-Town who sent the strongest of messages to the rest of the Lancaster-Lebanon League that overlooking them this year would be a grave mistake after the Bears’ resounding 49-33 triumph over their neighbors from Mount Joy.
“I was nervous,” first year E-Town head coach Andy Breault admitted after the first of what will be many victories leading the charge for the Bears. “(Donegal) looked good on film. We knew they’d come to play and there for a little bit it was a track meet.”
“Our guys came through and shut them down a little bit to start the third quarter and that was the difference,” Breault went on to add. “Our defense stepped up to get our offense back on the field.”
And while Cole Patrick will get the majority of the notoriety, and rightly so given his outstanding 400 yard plus day at the office on Saturday, Coach Breault, a former star quarterback in his own right, was quick to point out the work of the unit in the trenches. “Our line played pretty well,” the head man said afterward. “They did a good job up front and gave Patrick some time to throw the ball.”
And in the highly-competitive weekly grind that is L-L Section 2 football, a high-powered offense will certainly go a long way in helping keep you in any ballgame. It’s something that Coach Breault hopes to see the rest of the way from his squad.
“We know we have four, five, six guys that can touch it,” said Breault of the weapons in his offensive arsenal. “If we spread the ball around, the defense can’t key on one or two guys. (Cole) Patrick just has to make the right reads. Once he gets a little more experienced, he’ll be fine. I feel comfortable putting the ball in his hands. He makes good decisions.”
Look no further than Saturday afternoon for proof of that.
NEXT UP: E-Town will look to go 2-0 on the young season when they welcome the Dover Eagles from across the Susquehanna River by way of York County to the friendly confines in Elizabethtown for the Bears’ first game under the lights this season.
Donegal on the other hand will look to get things going on the right track in 2018 as the Indians entertain the Pequea Valley Braves to their gorgeous new athletic complex for the first game in a grueling L-L Section 3 slate the rest of the way to the finish line.
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