Source: Robert Tomkavage | Abington JournalLackawanna Trail ends 10-game losing streak to Old Forge in football.
CLINTON TWP. — Lackawanna Trail entered Friday night’s contest having lost 10 consecutive games to Old Forge, dating back to 2008.
Tyler Baltrusaitis made sure the losing streak wouldn’t extend to 11.
The senior defensive back forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter to help seal the Lions 17-8 win over the Blue Devils in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 game.
With Lackawanna Trail clinging to a three point lead, Baltrusaitis laid a big hit on Old Forge quarterback Alex Anastasi, forcing the fumble, recovered by Anthony Berrios.
“I saw him in the open field and just tried to hit him as hard as I could,” Baltrusaitis said. “I turned around and the ball was flying out. That was the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
Trail capitalized on the turnover when Nathan Rolka followed a caravan of blockers 33 yards for a touchdown with 2:55 left. Despite a miscue on the extra point attempt, the Lions were in full control.
“I got three great blocks on the edge from Shawn Jones, Thomas Huffsmith and Matt Bergey and that really opened it up,” Rolka said. “Our defense played really well. They kept us in the game and we were able to punch in two scores during the second half.”
While Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis was extremely proud of the current members of the team, he also reflected on some of those who came before them.
“We’ve had some really good battles with (Old Forge) over the years and we knew it was going to go down to the wire,” Jervis said. “This win was for a lot of the players over the last few years who have gone through our program, as well.”
Old Forge (3-4, 3-3 LFC Div. 3) put together a 10-play drive to start the game, but the Blue Devils came up empty when Bergey intercepted a pass from Anastasi in the end zone with 6:22 left in the first quarter. A 49-yard touchdown run by Brendan Mozeleski was also nullified during the possession due to an illegal shift.
Lackawanna Trail (5-2, 4-2) capitalized on excellent field position to score the first points of the game.
After a 22 yard punt, the Lions took over at the Old Forge 38-yard line late in the first quarter.
Two plays later, Rolka connected with Berrios for a 28-yard completion. A holding penalty and two incomplete passes stalled the drive, but Rolka converted a 32-yard field goal with 11:48 remaining in the second quarter to give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
Old Forge answered on the ensuing possession when Mozeleski, who gained 114 yards on 12 carries, rumbled for a 47-yard touchdown to cap an 8-play, 73-yard drive. Paul Cariati ran in the two-point conversion to give the Blue Devils an 8-3 advantage with 7:13 left in the second quarter.
Huffsmith, who accounted for 107 yards on 15 carries, put Lackawanna Trail back in the lead with a 29-yard touchdown run through the heart of the Old Forge defense and also added the two-point conversion with 1:00 remaining in the third quarter. James Gillespie picked up 29 of his 50 rushing yards during the scoring drive.
“I feel like, as a team, we never really give up,” Huffsmith said. “We always play four, full quarters of football and that’s what I really love about these guys.
“Our line starting really picking it up and establishing good holes.”
Lackawanna Trail now has 650 state playoff points and holds a 50-point advantage over Northwest Area, a team they defeated this season, for the top seed in the District 2 Class A playoffs.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.