First Posted: 10/21/2014
Lackawanna Trail put together two extended surges on the offensive side of the ball, but the Lions were never able to overcome the damage inflicted by Susquehanna in the first quarter and first play of the second quarter Saturday afternoon.
Susquehanna built leads of 14 points in the first half and 20 in the fourth quarter while knocking Lackawanna Trail out of Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 title contention with a 34-19 victory at William Emminger Memorial Field.
Lackawanna Trail entered Week Seven in a three-way tie for the division lead, facing back-to-back games with the other leaders.
The Lions stumbled late, coughing up a 14-point lead in a 17-14 loss to Old Forge, then struggled to get started at Susquehanna.
When Austin White took a fourth-down quarterback sneak 46 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, he gave Susquehanna a 14-0 lead. The Sabers outgained the Lions, 154-2, to that point.
“There’s no excuse for a very slow start,” Lackawanna Trail coach Steve Jervis said. “You could say it’s a little leftover from an emotional game last week, but I don’t buy into that.
“I think the bottom line is (White) is a very good player. Several times we had him corralled, but we just didn’t tackle very well. When you really break it down to the simplest things, we didn’t tackle well enough to win.”
White carried 16 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns while hitting six of nine passes for 100 yards.
Lackawanna Trail responded to White’s second touchdown run on a fourth-down play by holding the ball for all but 33 seconds of the second quarter.
During that time, Vic Mallory threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jared Phillips and Ross Fauquier made a diving interception that put the Lions back in Sabers territory with a chance to tie.
Susquehanna regained command by scoring on its first two possessions of the second half – including a Lucas Brinton run on another fourth-down conversion.
The Lions made a run at erasing the 20-point deficit by sandwiching an 88-yard scoring drive in 1:48 and a 50-yard scoring drive in 1:49 around a successful on-side kick.
“We executed our two-minute drill very well,” Jervis said. “We didn’t have any mistakes in that.”
Fauquier ran 22 yards for one touchdown and Mallory ran 15 for the other.
Lackawanna Trail still had time to get the ball back for one more shot until White went around left end for a 53-yard touchdown with 1:20 left.
“Whenver we got back into the game, we just couldn’t make a crucial stop defensively,” Jervis said.
Lackawanna Trail’s fourth-quarter comeback evened out the final statistics and gave the Lions a 17-12 lead in first downs.
Susquehanna had yardage advantages of 256-240 rushing, 100-97 passing and 356-337 total.
Mallory carried 11 times for 107 yards for Lackawanna Trail and passed for 97 more. Fauquier carried 10 times for 86 yards.
Cooper Rosiak led the Trail defense with five tackles and three assists.
The Lions (1-2 in the division and 5-3 overall) dropped behind Susquehanna in the District 2 Class A playoff race. The teams will likely have a rematch in the district semifinals for the right to face defending champion Old Forge.
Lackawanna Trail has a chance to tune up for the playoffs with games against the bottom two teams in the division, at Mid Valley Friday night and home against Holy Cross Oct. 31.
“We need to get everybody totally healthy,” Jervis said. “We need to play well the next two weeks and go back and look at the film to see ways to do better and prepare for the run game.”