CLINTON TWP. — Lackawanna Trail used a balanced offensive effort to defeat Northwest, 35-19, in a Lackawanna Football Conference/Wyoming Valley Conference crossover game on Friday night at Lions Pride Stadium.
First, the Lions moved the ball through the air.
Then, the running game became a big factor.
Lackawanna Trail quarterback Nathan Rolka, who completed 9 of 15 passes for 158 yards, connected with fullback James Gillespie for a 20-yard touchdown to cap a 3-play, 65-yard drive to give the Lions a 7-0 lead with 9:25 remaining in the first quarter. Rolka found Matt Bergey for 34 yards on the first play of the possession.
“That’s four weeks in a row that somebody scored on us during their opening drive,” Northwest Area head coach Lon Hazlet said.”We have to play better initially. We have a very young crew. We’re going through some growing pains, but the kids battled until the end tonight and I’m proud of their effort.”
Lions running back Thomas Huffsmith, who gained 168 yards on 13 carries, punctuated a 7-play, 65-yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown run to give Lackawanna Trail a 14-0 advantage with 1:57 remaining in the first quarter.
“I give credit to our offensive line,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis said. “Northwest was really switching up their defensive fronts and our kids did a good job recognizing the different fronts and Thomas had some fantastic runs.”
Northwest got on the board when Ezra Judge scooped up a fumble by JJ Whitesell and ran 26 yards for a touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, the Rangers trailed 14-6 with 11:40 left in the second quarter.
Huffsmith scored his second touchdown of the game on a 39-yard run with 7:17 remaining in the second quarter to stretch the Lions lead to 15 points.
A key defensive stop helped set up Trail’s next touchdown.
Lions linebacker Thomas Kohinsky stuffed Jake Anderson for a loss of four on 4th-and-1 from the Northwest 46-yard line.
After a 42-yard run by Huffsmith, wing back Anthony Berrios scored on a 1-yard run to give the Lions a 28-6 lead with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
Northwest responded on the ensuing drive when quarterback David Piestrak connected with Judge for a 54-yard touchdown.
After Lackawanna gained 274 yards in the first half, Northwest limited the Lions to 118 yards in the final two quarters.
“We talked about responding during halftime and we came out and played better than we did in the first half,” Hazlet said.
The Lions did manage a second half touchdown when Rolka hit Bergey for a 12-yard score midway through the fourth quarter.
Judge scored his third touchdown on an 11-yard run with 3:36 left in the game.
Lackawanna Trail 35, Northwest Area 19
LT — James Gillespie 20 pass from Nathan Rolka (Rolka kick), 9:25
LT — Thomas Huffsmith 40 run (Rolka kick), 1:57
NWT — Ezra Judge 26 run (conversion failed), 11:40
LT — Huffsmith 39 run (Rolka kick), 7:17
LT — Anthony Berrios 1 run (Rolka kick), 3:52
NWT — Judge 54 pass from David Piestrak (Jack Wessler kick), 2:11
LT — Matt Bergey 12 pass from Rolka (Rolka kick), 6:35
NWT — Judge 11 run (kick failed), 3:36
Passing yards`123’ 158
RUSHING — NWT, Anderson 12-48, Stancavage 2-13, Piestrak 11-28, Hardiman 1-8. LT, Huffsmith 13-168, Gillespie 13-87, Berrios 6-14, Rolka 1-11, team 1-(-2).
PASSING — NWT, Piestrak 9-17-0-123. LT, Rolka 9-15-0-158.
RECEIVING — NWT, Hardiman 2-33, Hazlet 2-13, Anderson 1-3, Judge 1-54, Womelsdorf 1-8, Whitesell 1-5, Bukavich 1-7. LT, Bergey 3-66, Cost 2-39, Huffsmith 2-21, Gillespie 2-32.
INTERCEPTIONS — None
MISSED FGs — None
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.