BY JEFF FALK
Patriots used the message ‘One if by land, two if by sea’ to warn of an impending British invasion. On Friday night, South Lebanon was invaded by Cedars.
Trautman by air. Pyles by land.
The dynamic quarterback duo of senior Alex Trautman and sophomore Mark Pyles paced Lebanon High to a 47-13 blowout win over Cedar Crest at Earl Boltz Stadium, in the 40th revival of the Cedar Bowl. Trautman was 11-for-14 for 176 yards and two touchowns in the first half, while the hard-running Pyles rushed for three later scores.
Despite the setback, Cedar Crest still leads the all-time series 24-15-1.
The Falcons drove the opening kickoff 72 yards in 11 plays to take a quick 6-0 advantage, but after that, it was all Cedars. With Trautman executing Lebanon’s ‘Air Raid’ offense to perfection and Pyles running with great vision, the Cedars scored five unanswered touchdowns to assume a 34-6 lead in the middle of the third period.
“Mark’s too talented not to be on the field,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk of his 1-A quarterback. “And it gives Alex a break. They’re both outstanding football players. They both should play.”
“Can you believe what he just did out there?,” said Trautman of Pyles. “I have trust in him. He plays like a senior. He plays like me, but much faster.”
“He’s (Trautman) confident in what he does,” said Cedar Crest head coach Tom Waranavage. “He runs their system well. He understands it. His sophomore year we had him here and I could tell he was going to good.”
The Cedars answered the Falcons’ early TD by scoring on their next two possessions. Trautman hit Tyler Antal with a 35-yard catch-and-run, then helped set up Adrian Krall’s first of two touchdowns, an 11-yard burst up the middle.
“Alex told me, ‘I’m 70 percent'”, said Yonchiuk of a Trautman ankle injury. “I said, ‘If you’re 70 percent, I want to start you in this game.’ I wanted to get Mark in there, but Alex was leading us to scores, so I kept him him in there. Mark was a running back until a few years ago, and he showed it tonight.”
“I felt very confident,” said Trautman, who finished 15-for-20 for 207 yards and no picks. “My offensive linemen said in the locker room, ‘We’ve got your back’, and it happened. I would be nothing without my linemen.
“When they scored that first touchdown, it was like ‘this doesn’t look good’,” Trautman added. “And we said, ‘Let’s just take the ball down the field.'”
With momentum squarely in LHS’ corner, Falcon turnovers further fueled the Cedars’ fire. Lebanon turned a CC fumble into a 62-yard touchdown collaboration between Trautman and Alex Kuhn and a 20-6 lead.
Then in the middle of the second, Lebanon marched 91 yards in ten plays to assume a 21-point margin. This time Pyles did the honors from 12 yards out.
“To play like this against anyone is disappointing,” said Waranavage. “But playing like this against your supposed rival is extremely disappointing. To be a rivalry game, it has to be competitive. It hasn’t been competitive on our end the last two years. If this is ‘the biggest game of the year’ and that’s our effort, where’s that leave you.”
“It’s like electricity running through my body,” said Yonchiuk. “I feel so good, for our coaches, our players, our managers. It’s so special to win here. It’s so gratifying.”
Cedar Crest never looked as good all night as it did on its first drive. Employing a heavy dose of the ground game, the Falcons drove for a six-yard Garrett Levengood score with 7:27 of the opening stanza left.
“We’ve got to be better than this,” said Waranavage, after emerging from a 20-minute, closed-door meeting with his coaching staff. “I just didn’t think we handled adversity well. That’s something that’s been happening for three years. Adversity is going to happen. You’re going to face it every game, regardless of the quality of opponent.”
“I’m going to say it was half our abilities and half of the game situation,” said Trautman of the distinct difference in quarterbacking styles. “Right now, with the whole ankle situation, I’m not going to do the run game much.
“With our run game, Mark probably has the best reads of anyone in our section,” Trautman continued. “When I’m back there, I keep everyone calm. He does the same thing.”
Thanks to a fumble by the Falcons on a kickoff, Lebanon High scored twice in three snaps late in the third period to up its advantage to 41-13. Pyles ran one in from 28 yards away and Krall broke the plane with a six-yarder.
In all, Cedar Crest fumbled the ball away four times. Lebanon did not turn the ball over.
“Yeah, we got a little rowdy,” said Trautman. “Personal fouls are going to happen in this game. Basically it came down to fumbles. We didn’t fumble once.”
“I thought our kids were composed,” said Yonchiuk. “And Adrian ran the ball hard. It was another real positive we had going on.”
The Falcons’ other score was a 72-yard bomb from reserve quarterback Nick Cascarino to starting quarterback Levengood. It came with 3:56 left in the third period and made it 34-13.
“Lebanon was way more physical than I thought,” said Waranavage. “I think they look at this game differently than our kids do. They’re well-coached. And they run a nice scheme on offense.”
“Oh my gosh, this is what we play for,” said Trautman. “This is what we expected.”
The Cedars counted an amazing 25 first downs in rolling up 406 yards of total offense. In addition to its four turnovers, Cedar Crest was flagged 11 times for 108 yards.
“It’s a good start,” said Yonchiuk. “Now we’ve got to take it in stride. Last year we got confidence, but we got over confident. Now we’ve just got to work to get better.”
Pyles rushed 11 times for 97 yards, while Krall added 17 carries and 90 yards. Four of Trautman’s completions went to Antal, who amassed 94 receiving yards.
“I have to watch film to see if there’s anything positive,” said Waranavage. “I thought we had a handful of kids who played hard from start to finish. But it has to be more. You’ve got to be 100 percent mentally into the game at all times, even the guys on the sideline. We have a lot to improve on.”