McCaskey Uses Godwin’s Four TDs and Two Defensive Scores To Rally Past Lebanon 42-21
For some teams, a four game losing streak coupled with getting down early in the fifth game in soggy conditions after an hour long bus ride could lead to an early night in terms of effort and what the scoreboard has to say at the end of the game. Luckily for first year McCaskey head coach Eric Spencer, it doesn’t appear that he has to deal with any of those issues. The Red Tornado scrapped and clawed their way back after being down 13-0 to the home-standing Lebanon Cedars at Alumni Stadium for a 42-21 victory thanks in part to big nights from junior running back Ray Godwin who accounted for four touchdowns,and the McCaskey defense which contributed a pair of scores themselves. “I’m pretty proud of the kids,” Spencer said afterwards. “They keep working on their techniques, fundamentals, and keep trying to fine-tune everything. They don’t stop and wallow on it. They keep fighting through, so at least I knew we were going to work all the way back.”
As mentioned, it certainly didn’t appear early that this one would turn into a 21 point McCaskey triumph. Lebanon got the ball first and went right down the field with it. A critical second effort run by the Cedars’ junior running back Josh Kauffman on 4th & 1 kept the initial drive alive. A sack by McCaskey’s Carlos Martinez tempered any good vibes Lebanon may have had after the fourth down conversion, however those were quickly regained after a nice connection from sophomore quarterback Zakee Sailsman to junior wideout Jeremiah Beckley got Lebanon to the McCaskey 30 yard line. On 3rd & 2 later in the drive, Sailsman eluded pressure and was able to move the chains to get Lebanon knocking on McCaskey’s door at the 7 yard line. The Tornado D stiffened after an offsides penalty following the Sailsman conversion, however on 3rd & Goal from the 6, Sailsman ran it in to get Lebanon on the board first 7-0 to cap the 72 yard 4:58 drive.
McCaskey got their hands on it first starting at their own 40 yard line, however their hands wouldn’t hold on to it very long as the Red Tornado fumbled it away on their first offensive play with Lebanon pouncing on the loose pill. The Cedars were on the move again after the turnover with another pass to Beckley to the Tornado 30 and then another Sailsman-Beckley hookup got Lebanon to the 10 yard line as Sailsman was able to extend the play. From there, Josh Kauffman took it home from 10 yards out to give Lebanon the quick 13-0 advantage with 6:19 still showing on the first quarter clock after the PAT try was no good.
It looked like McCaskey would have to give it away again on their next drive, but a 3rd & 13 conversion from junior quarterback Ante Robinson to fellow junior Ibrahim Yarow kept the Tornado drive alive with Yarow’s toe-tap along the Tornado sideline near midfield. McCaskey converted their next third down as well, this time on 3rd & 7 from the Cedar 48 when Robinson called his own number to the Lebanon 41. That third down would later lead to a 4th & 1 which McCaskey was able to convert with Ray Godwin on the ground which brought the first quarter to a close with the Cedars owning the 13-0 cushion.
As the second quarter got underway, McCaskey found themselves have to navigate past another 4th down, this one of the 8 yard variety which proved to be too much as Josh Kauffman was there to stop the Tornado jet sweep allowing the Cedars to take over.
Lebanon was able to pick up a first down in their next series when Sailsman hit Cody Kissinger, but the Red and Blue would have to give it back to McCaskey as a 3rd & 18 pass sailed incomplete.
McCaskey began to get in rhythm the next time they got the ball back, starting at their own 37. It appeared that way in spades when a long slant pass from Robinson to sophomore Jamiere Gray got McCaskey deep in Lebanon territory, but a block in the back would bring it back a good distance, back to the Lebanon 41 to be exact. After a bad snap created a 2nd & 21 for McCaskey, they went right back to what worked for them not that long ago by finding Gray on another slant play that got the visitors inside the redzone to the Lebanon 14. Ray Godwin was able to get his first touchdown of the night from there as he bounced it outside to get lights on McCaskey’s side of the scoreboard to trim Lebanon’s lead to 13-7 with 6:00 exactly left in the first half.
Lebanon was able to get two first downs on their next drive, one by a Josh Kauffman run, and the other by way of a McCaskey offsides call, however the Cedars would give it back when a 4th& 5 play went incomplete at the McCaskey 40.
McCaskey would hand it over downs on their next drive as well when the Cedars rose to the occasion to stuff the 4th & 2 try. Lebanon was moving again following the turnover on downs as evidenced by a pass from Sailsman to Phil Hillesheim got it to the McCaskey 35 yard line. That would be the last positive play of the Cedar drive though as a loss of 5 yards, followed by a bad snap and a holding call on the same play led to a 3rd down that was too long to convert as Lebanon was forced to punt it away.
McCaskey tried to see what magic they could work up late in the half, but Jeremiah Beckley had something to say about that as he rose up to nab the interception on McCaskey’s last ditch heave before the first half horn allowing Lebanon to ride a 13-7 lead into the locker room.
For as much as Lebanon controlled the first half, McCaskey was out to prove that the second half belonged to them. That was on full display beginning with the second half kickoff which was run back to the Lebanon 42 by junior Anthony DeLeon. The Lebanon D was up to the task following the long Tornado kick return as they set up a 3rd & 5 attempt that was stopped short by junior Luis Aquino-Rios that created a McCaskey 4th & 3 from the 35. Ante Robinson was able to keep it himself on 4th down as he raced to the Lebanon 29 yard line to keep it moving. McCaskey went back to what was their money play all night, a slant pass to Jamiere Gray that got McCaskey to the Cedar 10. Ray Godwin would eventually find the endzone for the second time as he took the pitch home on 4th & Goal from the 5 later in the drive to put McCaskey on top 14-13 with 7:45 to go in the third.
Both McCaskey and Lebanon would then exchange punts the next time they touched it. A Greg Nunez tackle for a loss of 6 yards was instrumental in leading to the Cedar punt, and the Lebanon defense forced a 3 and out leading to the Tornado punt.
Ironically, that punt turned out to change the whole complexion of the game. McCaskey’s junior punter Nick Allen was able to execute a perfect punt, pinning Lebanon at their own 1 yard linemuch to the delight of the Red and Black. A safety would at least seem to be in the cards with an offense back that far, but McCaskey junior linebacker Jaime Rodriquez-Vega had bigger plans. Rodriquez-Vega diagnosed the play and earned himself a pick 6 to extend McCaskey’s lead to 21-13 with 4:49 left in the third and put momentum clearly on the side of the Red Tornado.
The McCaskey defense didn’t rest on their laurels the next time they trotted onto the field as they forced Lebanon into a lengthy 3rd & 19 which could not be converted giving the ball back to their offense at their own 32 after the punt.
Godwin was able to flip the field as he galloped for a big run all the way down to the 6 yard line after the Cedar punt. His efforts were rewarded as his third TD run, this one from 5 yards out,swelled McCaskey’s lead to 28-13 with time running down in third quarter.
Lebanon was forced to punt it away again as junior defensive lineman Carlos Martinez was able to come free and get a tackle for loss on the Cedars’ ensuing possession. It looked like it might be curtains for Lebanon after that as DeLeon took the punt back all the way down to the Cedar 12 yard line, however a fumble recovery by Lebanon’s Shaq Ortiz thwarted McCaskey’s desire to even put more of a dent in the margin as the game moved to the fourth quarter with McCaskey holding the 28-13 advantage.
McCaskey would later take over at the Lebanon 43 yard line after Jordae Grove’s tackle on the Lebanon 4th down attempt which helped set the stage for Ray Godwin’s fourth TD run of the game as he ran up the middle just one play after the turnover on downs to give McCaskey the commanding 35-13 lead.
Lebanon was able to get their offense in gear following the Tornado score as passes to Shaq Ortiz and Phil Hillesheimmoved it to the Lebanon 45 yard line. A long pass to Hillesheimfollowed as the senior wideout was able to haul it in down to the Tornado 15 yard line for the 40 yard pickup. 15 yards would be the distance for Luis Aquino-Rios’ TD reception from Zakee Sailsman to get Lebanon back in the ballgame. Sailsman ran it in for the 2pt conversion to make the score 35-21 McCaskey with 10:06 left to play.
Lebanon would get the ball back and would start marching again. A pass to Hillesheim after a horse-collar on the punt return saw Lebanon out to the McCaskey 49 yard line. On 3rd & 14 from their own 47 later in the drive, Lebanon was able get it in the hands of Jeremiah Beckley once more as his key reception kept Lebanon advancing to the McCaskey 42. The Cedars were able to pick up another third down in the drive as Hillesheim was on the scene yet again to move the chains down the Tornado 24 for a 14 yard pickup. The Lebanon threat was put to a close however as McCaskey brought the heat on 4th & 10 leading to an incomplete pass.
Lebanon would get the ball back and try to get closer following big catches by Beckley, however the game was formally put away when Tarshon Gant picked off the pass and ran it all the way home 93 yards for the second defensive score of the night to put the cap on the 42-21 McCaskey victory.
Although their record may not stick out in the ultra-competitive standings of Lancaster Lebanon League Section 1 this season, it’s apparent that the potential is there for a turnaround in Lancaster city for the McCaskey football program sooner rather than later. “We have a lot of young kids at the skill positions with our juniors and sophomores. Up front we have a couple seniors and we will have to replace them, but hopefully we get things rolling in the right direction,” Spencer offered afterwards.
Getting the Red Tornado back to the top of Section 1 will not be an easy overnight fix, but coach Spencer understands and embraces the task at hand leading the McCaskey program. “It’s always an honor to work with these kids and work in this community. It’s a great group of kids. They’ve had a lot of growth and we just help them continue to grow and be young men. It’s a proud community and to help make them be a positive part of their community, it’s an honor to be a part of that.”
NEXT UP: McCaskey will tangle with a rapidly improving Penn Manor squad next week on the road at Millersville University, while Lebanon will look to snap their six game losing streak as they too hit the road when they meet Manheim Township who suffered two back to back heart-breaking losses in the last minute the last two times out against Warwick and Wilson respectively.
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