Eagles’ defense delivers late
HERNDON – For the third consecutive week Line Mountain had taken its opponent down to the wire. Friday night the defense capitalized late, as the Eagles ended a two-game skid to pick up a victory at the team’s own Glenn Ressler field.
The Eagles – coming off a pair of close road losses to Williams Valley and Newport – finally got the job done with some late defensive heroics.
With time winding down in the fourth quarter Line Mountain clung to a 22-14 lead. With 6:45 remaining in the game Line Mountain quarterback Evan Herb dropped back on third-and-eight and delivered a pass to the right side of the field. The ball was intercepted by Pine Grove’s Dalton Kintzel and returned to the Line Mountain 36-yard line, setting up the visiting team with exceptional field position in an attempt to tie the game late.
The Cardinals of Pine Grove put together a nine-play drive that ended in a two-yard Kintzler touchdown run with 3:46 remaining in the game, cutting the Line Mountain lead to 22-20. Needing two points for the tie, the Cardinals leaned on the fullback Kintzler again. This time the junior was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by Line Mountain’s Breven Derk to preserve the two-point lead.
“Our defense has been doing a really great job lately,” Line Mountain coach Brandon Carson stated. “We’re proud of everyone working together and fighting hard for 48 minutes.”
This wasn’t the final time the Line Mountain defense needed to come up big, as the Cardinals used a pair of timeouts and earned a three-and-out to regain possession with 1:43 remaining for a potential game-winning drive.
Pine Grove took over on its own 31-yard line after a Derk pooch-punt, and on the first play from scrimmage gained 33 yards on a pass down the right side of the field from quarterback Josh Leininger to wideout Dawson Ibarra.
After the big gain, Pine Grove was suddenly within striking distance at the Line Mountain 36. After having a hard time stopping the pass up to that point, the Line Mountain defense stood strong forcing three incomplete passes in the final four plays of the game to give the home team the victory.
“The quarterback (Leininger) was doing a great job of throwing the ball on time and putting the ball right on the money for the most part.” Carson said. “That’s what was difficult for us to defend. We were in pretty tight coverage, but if your quarterback is putting the ball on the money and on time there isn’t much you can do defensively.”
The win snapped the Eagles’ two-game losing skid and put the team back at .500 with a 4-4 record on the season.
“Credit to them for making some plays on us,” Carson said. “They executed and made some plays, we just had to keep chugging along and grinding it out. We didn’t give up many big plays tonight and I’m proud of that.”
The loss dropped Pine Grove to 4-4 overall on the season.
Pine Grove opened the game’s scoring on an impressive drive in the opening quarter. On the team’s second possession of the game, the visitors marched the ball 76 yards on a 15-play drive that chewed over five minutes off the clock.
The drive culminated in quarterback Leininger scrambling for his life on a fourth-and-five at the Line Mountain 18-yard line and finding pay dirt after the long run for the game’s opening score. Without a PAT kicker, the Cardinals were forced to go for a 2-point conversion which was successful when starting tailback Colin Luckenbill crashed through the line to give Pine Grove an 8-0 advantage.
The Pine Grove defense began the game strong by forcing a turnover on downs, a punt and a lost fumble on the first three Line Mountain drives of the game.
On the final drive before the halftime whistle, Line Mountain finally recorded its first points of the night. The Eagles put together an impressive drive of their own, marching the ball 57 yards on 13 plays before finding the endzone on a Colby Scott one-yard run with three seconds remaining in the opening half. Scott then plowed into the endzone again for the two-point conversion to knot the game up at eight points apiece at the half.
“We noticed in film that they were playing their inside linebackers really wide which set up for our zone read really well,” said Carson of his team’s performance on the ground. “We knew we would be able to have some success running that tonight as long as we took care of our blocks and played a hard and physical game.
“Colby (Scott) ran really hard tonight. He just kept his legs moving and lowered his head. The kid just plays really hard and I’m really proud of him tonight. He’s a great example of someone who really cares about the team and will do anything for the team.”
Scott rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on the night for the Eagles, leading all rushers in the game.
Line Mountain failed to score on the opening drive of the second half and punted away to the Cardinals who promptly regained the lead. On the eighth play of the drive it was Leininger again who found the endzone, this time from 43 yards away to regain the lead. The 2-point conversion try failed, putting the Cardinals up 14-8 with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Line Mountain struck back on its ensuing possession, using Scott to bulldoze the Eagles down the field and netting his second score of the night. After Scott’s six-yard rush tied the game, Jacob Feese entered the game and provided a crucial PAT to give Line Mountain a 15-14 lead with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Line Mountain scored again in the fourth quarter when quarterback Evan Herb used play action to find Derk down the left sideline for a 26-yard lob into the endzone to push the Line Mountain lead to 22-14 with 10:06 remaining in the contest.
“It feels fantastic to get a win tonight,” Carson said. “We told the kids that in the three years since this coaching staff has been here that we’ve started 0-1 all three years and that was really the only time we’ve dropped below .500 on the season. This year we’ve been below .500 three different times. I don’t want to be there, I know the guys don’t want to be there. We needed a win for our psyche, for ourselves and for the community tonight. This was a big and important win for us.”
Despite the loss, Pine Grove outgained the Eagles 269-263 offensively in the game. Pine Grove’s quarterback Leininger threw for 105 yards on 6-of-15 passing. All six passes were caught by wideout Dawson Ibarra who finished the night with a game-high six grabs and 105 yards.
For Line Mountain, Herb threw for 85 yards in the game, spreading the ball around to three different receivers. Adam Malafi led the Eagles in receiving yardage with three catches for 39 yards. Derk followed closely behind with two catches for 30 yards and a score, while Garret Laudenslager also contributed with three catches for 22 yards.
Line Mountain 22, Pine Grove 20
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Pine Grove 8 0 6 6 — 20
Line Mountain 0 8 7 7 — 22
PG—Josh Leininger 19-yard run (Colin Luckenbill runs for 2pt conversion), 2:05.
LM—Colby Scott 1-yard run (Scott runs for 2pt conversion), 00:03.
PG—Leininger 43-yard run (2pt conversion No Good), 4:55.
LM—Scott 6-yard run (Jacob Feese PAT Good), 3:22.
LM—Breven Derk 26-yard reception from Evan Herb (Feese PAT Good), 10:06
PG—Dalton Kintzel 2-yard run (2pt conversion No Good), 3:46.
First downs 10 – 14
Total yards 269 – 263
Rushes-yards 43-164 38-179
Yards passing 105 – 84
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 6-15-07-16-1
RUSHING—Pine Grove: Leininger 8-71 2TD, Kintzel 12-52 TD, Luckenbill 17-38, Dawson Ibarra 4-7, Ayden Ney 1-2, TEAM 1-(-6). Line Mountain: Scott 24-139 2TD, Herb 6-34, Chance Hackenberg 2-4, Derk 6-2.
PASSING—Pine Grove: Leininger 6-15, 105 yds. Line Mountain: Herb 7-16, 84 yds, TD, INT.
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