Lampeter-Strasburg has the Final say in Dramatic 31-30 Victory over E-town
When Lampeter-Strasburg took over with just 1:57 left on the clock down 30-24, the Pioneers needed to rally. They did just that when quarterback Todd Shelley found Cam Niemeyer for the TD combined with Peyton Denlinger’s crucial extra point to push LS over the top and give the visiting Pioneers the hard-fought 31-30 victory on the road. More on the game-winning drive later, but all that could really be said to sum this one up was one thing. Just another crazy night in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 2.
LS got the ball first and scored on their initial drive when Shelley found Shane Lawler on the screen, or so they thought. A block in the back call whistled against the Pioneers brought it all the back and the drive eventually ended when Logan Yohn and Jonathan Clough combined on the sack on 3rd & 21.
The Bears would eventually have to punt it away on their first possession as well thanks in part to Nate Kreider picking up a sack on the series and the Pioneers rising up and stuffing the Bears on a 3rd & 21 of their own.
Following another Pioneer punt, E-town got the ball back and began to move. The biggest play of the drive came when Logan Yohn got behind the Pioneer secondary for the monster pickup down to the LS 31. A horsecollar flag on LS eventually moved the ball down to the LS 14, however that’s all the further the Bears would get as Chad Gaudino made the first of his many impactful plays of the evening by stepping in front of the pass to end the Bears’ threat.
LS started at their own 36 following Gaudino’s pick and handed it off to Cam Niemeyer who ripped off a big run for the Pioneers, or so they thought once again. This time, it was a holding call on the Pioneers that brought it back. The Pioneers did get back into E-town territory following a pass interference call, however this LS drive would also end in an interception when Grant Gaumer picked it off on 4th & 3 which ended the first quarter where we started with the score knotted at 0-0.
The Pioneer D would force a punt following the Bear interception and took over at their own 46 after the punt return of Caleb Lopez. After runs by Lopez and Lawler on the drive, Shelley found Gaudino across the middle to the E-town 27. Faced with a 4th & 6 on the drive after a false start, the Pioneers picked it up when Lawler got involved in the passing game with a reception down to the 8 yard line. After two marginal gains, Cole Livingston broke up the 3rd & Goal attempt setting up Peyton Denlinger’s field goal which he booted home to give LS the 3-0 lead.
E-town would answer the Pioneer score that was ignited when Jonny Jones went up and brought it down in traffic to the LS 48. Two plays later, E-town put neon on their side of the scoreboard when Micah Garber found Jones for his second big reception of the drive for the 47 yard score to put E-town on top 7-3 with 4:02 left in the half.
In a first half that was a game of punch, counter-punch, LS set themselves up in great shape when Shane Lawler ripped off a big return on the ensuing kick to the Bear 33 yard line. After a pass to Niemeyer went for 9 yards, LS had a 3rd & 1 which they picked up when Lawler carried it to the 19. Tack on a pass interference later in the drive, and the ball was rested on the Bear 9 yard line awaiting a Pioneer response. That response would have to wait momentarily as Greg Good and others were there to stop the first two LS plays following the penalty. On 3rd& Goal from the 9 yard line however, LS would get their answer when Cam Niemeyer was open on the backside screen for the 9 yard TD play to put LS up 10-7 with 1:26 to go in the half.
With time still left the clock, E-town went to the air, but Cody Reiff and the LS defense had other ideas. The junior linebacker snagged the interception as the Pioneers set up shop at their own 47 with 1:04 still left in the half. Needing a big play, LS turned to Chad Gaudino who came up with two big plays on the drive to get LS down to the E-town 19 yard line with 32 seconds left. LS would then cap off the gigantic momentum-stealing series when Todd Shelley found Justin Edwards from 16 yards out to send LS into the halftime break leading 17-7.
Much to E-town’s credit, the aforementioned LS drive could have been back-breaking in the grand scheme of things. Instead of calling it night, the Bears would respond making it clear thatthis would be a four quarter ballgame. The key play on the initial E-town drive of the half was sparked when Scott Fox ripped off a big run from deep into E-town territory to the LS 39. After Cody Reiff’s stuff defensively, the Bears would have to navigate past a 3rd & 4 which they did when Fox got loose on a screen play to get E-town knocking on the door of the redzoneto the LS 22 yard line. Fox would follow that up with nice run down to the 7 yard line, then a six yard carry to the 1, which he capped off with the TD plunge to shrink the LS lead to 17-14 to wrap up the nearly four minute drive.
The E-town defense would do their part the first time they trotted out on the field in the second half as Jonathan Clough got free and collected a sack on 3rd & 11.
Following the LS punt, it was apparent that momentum had swung back to the E-town sideline with the Bears taking over at their own 25. After an incidental facemask call against LS, the Bears found more success through the air as a long pass to senior wideout Jonny Jones got E-town down to the LS 20 yard line. Junior running back Cayden Livingston then ripped off a run to the Pioneer 9 yard line setting up 1st & Goal. The LS defense would stiffen as they held the Bears on 1st-3rd downs which brought out junior kicker David Shank who promptly tied it up at 17-17 after he split the pipes with 2:54 to go in the third quarter.
After three straight incompletions on the ensuing LS drive, the Bears would get the ball back heading into the final quarter.
E-town made the most of their opportunity as Micah Garber tacked on his second passing TD of the night as he hooked up with junior wideout Anthony Funk for the 38 yard TD strike to go ahead 24-17 with 11:50 to go.
For a brief moment on the ensuing LS drive, it appeared that it might be curtains when Nicholas Strunge got in on the act defensively with a sack for a loss of 8 yards which set up a LS 3rd & 17 from their own 22 yard line. Needing a big play on Friday night, LS routinely looked to Chad Gaudino which proved to be a wise move as he continued to deliver for his team. This time, it was in the form of a long reception all the way down to the E-town 28. LS put it in the air again to move even closer as Caleb Lopez came up with it across the middle to get down to the 12 yard line. Faced with a 4th & 6 from the Bear 13, what would you call? If you said call on Chad Gaudino, you’d be right. The senior wideout moved the sticks by going across the middle down to the 3 yard line. Shane Lawler finished it off from there as he bounced it outside for the one yard TD run to knot it up at 24-24 with 6:45 left.
Following the LS kickoff which wandered out of bounds, E-town would have to later negotiate a 3rd & 6 from their own 39 the next time they got their hands on it. Micah Garber would come up big to keep the drive alive as senior QB raced down to LS 44 on the critical conversion. Cayden Livingston then ran itoutside for 14 yards to get down to the LS 30. It was then time for freshman running back Devyn Clair to get in on the act as heran for 8 and then 7 yards on successive plays to get E-town to the 15 yard line. Garber kept it on the ground for the Bears as his run got E-town on the doorstep at the LS 4. On 3rd & Goal, Devyn Clair ran it home from 3 yards out to give E-town the 30-24 lead with 1:57 as the home crowd went wild. Following the TD, E-town was whistled for a false start which turned out to be pivotal play as the operation on the PAT was not successful, leaving the score at 30-24 giving LS a chance to answer.
Following the touchback, LS was eventually left having to convert 4th & 14 from their own 33 after Logan Yohn came in free on the blitz and picked up the gigantic sack for the Bears. If you’ve been following along, you can probably guess how this next play goes. Yes, Chad Gaudino snared the reception down to the E-town 44 yard line to swing the momentum pendulum back over to the LS sideline in just one play. A pass interference call against E-town shortly thereafter moved the ball to the 28 yard line. A catch by Caleb Lopez later got LS down to the 14 yard line which set the stage for the go-ahead score. Todd Shelley picked tallied his third passing TD of the night when he found Cam Niemeyer from 14 yards out to tie it up at 30-30. Peyton Denlinger knocked the PAT home and LS had suddenly surged on top 31-30 with 45 seconds left.
The LS defense would do their job on the final drive and prevent E-town from getting the walk-off win, to send the Pioneers back to Lampeter with the fantastic 31-30 victory.
“After the game, we had two people that we acknowledged,” LS coach John Manion said afterward. “One was Chad for making several big plays on big downs. The other was our quarterback (Todd Shelley) who became ‘the guy’ tonight. He had clutch throws when we needed them, trusted guys, made good reads, and when we gave him time, he made plays.”
NEXT UP: The road does not get any easier for either team, but such is life in LL Section 2.
LS will look to ride the momentum of this win into next week’s game on the road at Cocalico who is currently the head of the class in Section 2 all by their lonesome before finishing up with Garden Spot and Cedar Crest.
E-town on the other hand will look to end this current two game losing skid against two of the finest in Section 2, Manheim Central and Lampeter-Strasburg respectively, as they head on the road to Garden Spot before finishing with Cedar Crest and Ephrata
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