Turnovers hurt Lewisburg in loss to Central Columbia
SOUTH CENTRE TOWNSHIP – With Central Columbia and Lewisburg in third and fourth place, respectively, in the District 4 Class 3A standings heading into their Week 9 game and with both having identical 5-3 records, the winner was sure to gain a leg up in the standings, especially with both squads figuring to be favored in their restively rivalry games next week.
With just percentage points separating them in the power rankings, it also stood to reason that the game could be relatively close, with just a few plays or mistakes potentially turning the tide. While the game didn’t end up being close, it was indeed mistakes that turned out to the difference.
Lewisburg committed three turnovers, which directly led to 21 points for Central Columbia and that was the difference as the Bluejays defeated the Green Dragons 42-16.
“That’s been our MO all year, unfortunately,” said Lewisburg coach Marc Persing. “We can play with anybody but we beat ourselves. If you study our four losses, we turned the ball over. When we don’t, you get efforts like the Bloomsburg game, the Central Mountain game or the Milton game (all lopsided Lewisburg wins). We need a signature win and that will need to come in the playoffs. It’s gut check time and we’ll see how they respond, so it’s time to get back to the drawing board on Monday and get ready for Mifflinburg.”
Central had just 30 more yards of offense than Lewisburg but the difference in the game was the Bluejays taking full advantage of the Green Dragons mistakes while Lewisburg was unable to take advantage of Central’s lone turnover.
The only Central giveaway of the game came on the Bluejays’ first drive of the game off the opening kickoff when Trae Devlin was picked off by Andrew Ramirez inside the Lewisburg 10, and Ramirez returned it to the Lewisburg 31. The Green Dragons then marched down to inside the Central 10 off the strong running of Max Moyers, who ripped off a 43 yards run on his third of 30 carries on the night. He finished with 198 yards.
“He’s going to get his, he’s a great back with a big offensive line and he’s going to pop some but I think we weathered the storm and our defense came up with big plays when it had to,” said Central coach Scott Dennis. “He got most of his yards between the 20s and we got a few big turnovers.”
One of those big plays was when Moyers was striped and fumbled on a third-and-goal carry from the 8 and Central recovered. The Bluejays then needed just six plays to go 80 yards for a touchdown, capped by the first of three Isaac Gensemer touchdowns on the night, this one from one yard out. A 46-yard reception by Zander Bradley set up Gensemer’s score.
Lewisburg marched right back down on the field on its ensuing drive but was again stalled inside the 10 and had to settle for a Jack Dieffenderfer 25-yard field goal.
“We didn’t get stops and we stopped ourselves,” said Persing. “First drive we go right down the field and we fumble. Second drive we go right down and settle for a field goal. This is the first game that we really had trouble pass blocking and give credit to their defensive ends. That’s a very good football team, they don’t have any weaknesses and we’re probably going to be playing them again (in the playoffs). I really look forward to that matchup and maybe things will go a little different but for tonight they were a much better football team.”
Central made them pay right away as the Bluejays came back on their next drive and again found the end zone on a 36-yard reception by Bradley on a slant on a 4th-and-14 play. Central then forced Lewisburg to go three-and-out and scored again when it got the ball back as Gensemer burst through a hole and broke some tackles to go 35 yards for a touchdown to put the Bluejays up 21-3.
The Green Dragons were able to answer to cut the lead to 21-10 with 1:10 left in the half as they capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive with a Moyers one-yard run. Lewisburg was unable to keep the momentum going into halftime, however, as Central quickly moved the ball down the field with a couple of plays in which it picked up chunks of yardage, including a 38 yard pass from Devlin to Jared Verse on the first play from scrimmage of the drive. One the final play of the half, Devlin handed the ball off to his fullback, Ky Seesholtz, who plunged into the end zone from a yard out with zeros showing on the scoreboard to give Central a 28-10 halftime lead. Devlin threw for 169 yards in the game – all in the first half.
“Our offensive line gave us time to throw and Trae was very prepared,” said Dennis. “He understands their defense as well as they do before it is snapped because of all the film he studies. It can be a challenge covering all of our receivers at the same time when you’ve got a running back in the backfield that can make plays as well.”
Lewisburg had an answer to start the third quarter as the Green Dragons chewed up nearly half the quarter with a 10-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, capped by nicely executed 30-yard screen pass for a touchdown from Nick Shedleski to Ethan Dominick. Lewisburg then forced Central to punt for the first time but any positive momentum swung right back to Central when Shedleski was picked off by Garrett Carter, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to put Central up 35-16.
“We had some miscommunication issues and that’s where the pick six came from,” said Persing.
“Garrett has been getting better each week as a sophomore and he’s a big kid but he’s fast,” said Dennis. “He was able to get underneath that throw and I don’t think Shedleski saw him.”
After the teams exchanged punts on their next respective possessions, Shedleski was again picked off, this time by Zachary Smith, who returned it 44 yards to the Lewisburg 26 with 6:30 left in the game. Six plays later, Gensemer punched it in from four yards out for his third touchdown on the night to ice the game.
Lewisburg is now sure to fall below Shamokin in the District 4 Class 3A standings, and will likely be in a battle with Loyalsock for the fifth spot. Should the Green Dragons fall to sixth, they would likely face Central again in the first round, as with the win the Bluejays have an excellent shot at holding the third spot behind Danville and Montoursville should they top Bloomsburg in their rivalry game next week. Lewisburg will take on Mifflinburg in the battle for the Little Brown Jug in Week 10.
Central Columbia 42, Lewisburg 16
Lewisburg (5-4) 3 7 6 0 – 16
Central Columbia (6-3) 7 21 0 14 – 42
4:22 – (CC) Isaac Gensemer 1-yard run (Brendan Gregory kick), 6-80, 2:19
:37 – (L) Jack Dieffenderfer 25-yard field goal, 9-57, 3:45
8:40 – (CC) Zander Bradley 36-yard pass from Trae Devlin (Gregory kick), 9-59, 3:57
3:50 – (CC) Isaac Gensemer 35-yard run (Gregory kick), 6-58, 3:03
:00 – (CC) Ky Seesholtz 1-yard run (Gregory kick), 8-73, 1:10
6:46 – (L) Ethan Dominick 30-yard pass from Nick Shedleski (kick blocked), 10-67, 5:14
11:48 – (CC) Garrett Carter 38-yard interception return (Gregory kick)
3:42 – (CC) Isaac Gensemer 4-yard run (Gregory kick), 6-26, 2:48
First downs 17 22
Rushes-net yards 38-213 41-214
Passing yardage 140 169
Passing 11-18-1-2 7-13-1-1
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 9-88 6-35
RUSHING: Lewisburg: Max Moyers (30-198-1), Ethan Dominick (4-19), Nick Shedleski (1-2), Ethan Spaulding (2-(-6)); Central Columbia: Isaac Gensemer (26-160-3), Jack Schechterly (7-24), Trae Devlin (4-28), Ky Seesholtz (2-4-1), TEAM (2-(-2))
PASSING: Lewisburg: Nick Shedleski (11-18-140-1-2); Central Columbia: Trae Devlin (7-12-169-1-1), Isaac Gensemer (0-1-0-0-0)
RECEIVING: Lewisburg: Ethan Dominick (6-94-1), Coleman Witherite (3-39), Romale Brown (2-7); Central Columbia: Zander Bradley (4-97-1), Jared Verse (1-38), Eli Morrison (1-20), Zachary Smith (1-14)
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