BY JEFF FALK
That the Annville-Cleona football team was going to be better this year than it was last was no big secret. The only questions were when and by how much.
On Friday night, the Little Dutchmen equaled their win total of a year ago when they defeated Hamburg 25-20 in Berks County. Annville-Cleona rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit with 18 second-half points.
Now 1-1 on the campaign, the Little Dutchmen had suffered a home setback to Tri-Valley in their opener. Hamburg slipped to 0-2 in the early going.
Junior Mitch Rodkey’s 45-yard touchdown run with under nine minutes to play completed the A-C comeback. A late Paxson Hayes pick short-circuited any Hawk thoughts of a re-comeback.
Two short Quentin Hall TD bursts in the third period had pulled Annville-Cleona to within 20-19 of Hamburg. Rodkey and Hall each broke the 100-yard plateau for the game, as the Little Dutchmen generated nearly 300 yards on the ground.
Facing an early 7-0 hole, Annville-Cleona tied the game early in the second quarter on a long touchdown completion from Anthony Pletz to Adam Connor. But the Little Dutchmen surrendered 13 points before intermission, six of which came on a fumble return.
Elsewhere in local scholastic football on Friday:
Lower Dauphin 21, Cedar Crest 0
At Earl Boltz Stadium in South Lebanon, Cedar Crest experienced a hang-over from its emotional Cedar Bowl win over Lebanon High, not a carry-over. The loss dropped Cedar Crest to 1-1 on the year, while Lower Dauphin’s second straight shutout made it 2-0.
The Falcons played adequately on defense, but just couldn’t muster enough offense. Lower Dauphin’s swarming defense surrendered less than 170 yards of total offense to Crest.
Following a scoreless opening period, Lower Dauphin notched two touchdown runs in the final seven minutes of the half. The last of which was set up by a long pass completion and came less than a minute before the break.
CC had driven the length of the field in the first quarter, only to misfire on a medium-range field goal attempt.
The score stayed 14-0 before Lower Dauphin put the outcome to rest midway through the final stanza. LD collected 370 total yards of offense, 250 of which came on the ground.
Cedar Crest’s most dangerous weapon on the evening proved to be runner Grant Boehler.
Steel-High 33, Elco 13
In Myerstown, the Rollers tallied the game’s final 20 points to distance themselves from the Raiders. With the outcome, Elco slipped to 1-1 on the campaign, while Steel-High improved to 2-0.
Elco experienced difficulties dealing with the Rollers’ speed, athleticism and strength all evening. But it was a Raider fumble deep in their own territory in the third quarter that turned the time towards Steel-High.
Down 13-0 early, the Raiders fought back for two touchdowns before the end of the half. First, freshman quarterback Jeff Martin connected with senior Adam Shoemaker on a short scoring aerial to make it 13-7.
Later the two collaborated on a touchdown pass that covered three-quarters of the gridiron and knotted the score at 13.
But that was pretty much the extent of the Elco offense, as it totaled just a couple of clicks over 200 total yards. Individually, Strause, the star of the Raiders’ Week One win, was held to almost 200 yards less than he got on the ground against Hamburg.
Still, the Elco defense kept it in the game. The Raiders limited the Rollers to less than 250 yards of total offense and recorded a handful of sacks.
Martin completed half of his 14 pass attempts and was intercepted one time.
Muhlenberg 48, Palmyra 14
At Buck Swank Stadium in Palmyra, the out-manned Cougars again displayed a lot of heart, but wore down as the game went along. The setback dropped Palmyra to 0-2 on the campaign.
Palmyra opened the scoring at the midway point of the first quarter with a long touchdown scamper from senior runner Dino Faiola. But the Mules would score the next 41 points to grab a 34-point advantage.
Following their second possession of the game, the Cougars experienced difficulties generating any offense of note. Palmyra finished with less than 100 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars hit paydirt thanks to a short scoring pass from senior Mason Laudermilch to Tom Weider. Palmyra dressed less than 30 players for the game.
Muhlenberg, which enjoyed a 28-7 lead in the locker room, piled up 360 yards of total offense. The Mules returned two Cougar turnovers for touchdowns.