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Shamrocks’ 12-game win streak ends with loss to Lewisburg

Written by: on Sunday, December 5th, 2010. Follow Josh Funk on Twitter.

HERSHEY, Pa. – The formula for success on the gridiron in Pennsylvania’s cold December weather is rather simple.
First, hit a couple big, momentum-turning plays. Second, play some solid defense. Third, and most importantly, limit the mistakes.

Lewisburg followed that formula to a tee.

The Green Dragons (14-0) scored the first 28 points of the game and forced four Shamrock (12-2) turnovers in a 31-21 victory in a PIAA AA quarterfinal Saturday afternoon at HersheyPark Stadium. With the victory, Lewisburg will face West Catholic, a 55-14 winner over Northern Lehigh, next Saturday afternoon for the PIAA AA Eastern Final at HersheyPark Stadium at 1 p.m.

While West Catholic poses the stiffest test Lewisburg will have faced to date, head coach Todd Tilford likes what his team has accomplished thus far in 2010.

“I think the sky is the limit with these kids,” Tilford said.

And for the first 26:14 of the game, the Green Dragons were sky-high.

After battling the Shamrocks through a scoreless first quarter, Lewisburg’s Camden Cassels hit Robert Gaines on a 21-yard pass on 4th-and-5 to the Trinity 1, and Nate Brown scored on the next play to break the goose eggs.

Then, the Green Dragons reached in their bag of tricks to push the margin to 14-0. Cassels hit Ryan Lopes on a pass in the flat, and Lopes lateralled the ball to a trailing Nickolas Kifolo, and Kifolo took it the remaining 58 yards on a hook-and-lateral play.

But the biggest play, in terms of breaking Trinity’s backs, came toward the end of the first half.

Trinity had driven deep into Green Dragon territory and had strung four first downs together and converted a 4th-and-9 with a 10-yard pass to the Lewisburg 21. But two plays after the fourth-down conversion, Patrick Dill was intercepted by Gaines, who returned the pick 99 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

“Robbie’s been clutch for us all year,” Tilford said. “He’s not a speedster, though. Maybe he was aided by the wind.”

The 14-point swing was critical, said Trinity head coach Bill Ragni Jr.

“We got a little beleagered and a little down,” Ragni said. “We needed to get something going, and that didn’t happen until the third quarter.”

The Shamrocks didn’t get things revved up until Lewisburg pushed the margin to 28-0 on a Merle Moscarello 66-yard scoring run.

Adam Geiger scored two short touchdown runs to bring the margin to 28-14 and Dill capped the game scoring with a 28-yard pass to sophomore Danny Jackson.

Ragni was impressed with Lewisburg’s team speed.

“We were warned that they were faster than they looked on film,” Ragni said. “And they tackled well today. We didn’t tackle well today.

“We played very hard in the second half,” Ragni continued. “For these guys to come as far as they have with the new (offensive) system, you can look for some big things from these guys in the future.”

Moscarello finished with a game-high 127 yards on 16 totes, and Brown added 48 yards on 16 carries. Cassels completed 5-of-10 passes for 128 yards. Lewisburg amassed 283 yards of offense and 11 first downs

Geiger finished with 52 yards on 14 carries. Dill threw for 249 yards and completed 18-of-33 passes, but threw three interceptions. Trinity finished with 363 yards of offense and 19 first downs, but also committed eight penalties for 72 yards.

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