BY JEFF FALK
First, everything went the Falcons’ way. Then, things just got ridiculous. Ultimately, they became historic.
No one could’ve imagined the outcome, much less saw it coming. And because of that, it became difficult to describe exactly what had just been witnessed.
On Friday night at Lebanon’s Alumni Stadium, Cedar Crest defeated Lebanon High 67-0 in the 41st edition of the Cedar Bowl, annually the biggest football game played in Lebanon County. The final score represented not only the biggest margin of victory in the history of the game, but also the most points scored by one side in it.
The Falcons led 50-0 – that’s right 50-0 – at halftime, before the entire second half was played under a continuously running clock. Before Cedar Crest took a knee on its last two possessions – in effect dolling out its own form of mercy – the Cedars had come up with one defensive stop all evening.
Seven different Falcons scored touchdowns and eight of the nine touchdowns that Cedar Crest tallied came on the ground. Gage Ocker and Erickson Gonzalez were the only CC contestants to notch a pair of scores. Already up 21-0, the Falcons exploded for 29 points and four TDs during the final 7:30 of the first half.
It was a blowout of epic proportions.
Cedar Crest now leads the all-time Cedar Bowl series, which dates back to 1972, 25-15-1.
“Everything went our way,” said a hoarse Cedar Crest head coach Tom Waranavage, who lost his voice before the game even kicked off. “Early on we got a turnover, got a short field and scored. I don’t think it was anything more than that. I thought their (Lebanon’s) kids played hard. I thought we played pretty hard on defense all night.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Waranavage continued. “I’m happy for our coaches. It jut happens that way sometimes. We’ve been on the other side of that and you can’t stop it.”
“It snowballed,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk, “and it’s almost like an avalanche. It takes off and doesn’t stop until it hits the bottom. We’re not even going to think about this game until we prepare for them next year.”
It was auspicious start for the Falcons and and ominous one for the Cedars.
A fumbled hand-off on the second snap of the game set the Falcons up in business at the LHS 13. Three downs later, Ocker was taking it over from eight yards out on a fourth-down play.
Cedar Crest’s second score came four minutes later, and also on a fourth-down run, this time from senior quarterback Nick Cascarino three yards away. The 14-0 advantage was set up by a good punt return and a 30-yard pass completion from Cascarino to frosh Evan Horn.
“Our kids worked very hard,” said Waranavage. “We’re playing some young kids. And I think they can play. But again, we need to learn from this, and come Monday, put it in perspective.
“That’s all it is, one win,” Waranavage added. “It was the most important win this week. We want to enjoy this and then we have to get re-focused and get ready for our next opponent. We should have some focusing to do.”
“It was disappointing,” said Yonchiuk. “We had the turnover early. But when you have the ball first-and-goal on the six-inch line, you’ve got to score. The bottom line is we didn’t get into the end zone.”
Cedar Crest’s pre-intermission explosion began with a Grant Boehler 59-yard run and a Gonzalez four-yard burst. It ended with a 25-yard plow by Erikson and a 42-yard scoring hook-up between Cascarino and Damon Edwards 20 seconds before the break.
“Their kids play hard,” said Waranavage said of the Cedars. “They did some things defensively that we didn’t expect. And we had to make adjustments and the kids executed it. Our kids played hard and they played pretty well.
“We have some depth in spots where we need to have depth,” continued Waranavage. “We’ll always take more. I like where we’re at with some of the younger kids. But I think Nick (Cascarino’s) performance got lost in some of that.”
Cedar Crest owned the stat sheet as well. Behind 369 rushing yards, the Falcons owned a 470-129 advantage in total yards.
The Cedars were guilty of five turnovers, while the Falcons counted none.
“At one point, we dropped a punt and I could tell that the mistakes were starting to add up,” said Yonchiuk. “When you lose a game like this, you look at your mistakes, correct them and move on. In some ways it’s easier to lose this way than 14-13. You can’t even get (miffed) or mad. They’re the growing pains.”
“I was debating doing it when we took the field goal,” said Warnavage of Kevin Bonalle’s 24-yard-field goal on the first snap of the fourth quarter. “We didn’t want to do that. I know it’s a rivalry game. But their kids play hard. We just needed to take a knee get out of there.”
“No, it wouldn’t have mattered,” said Yonchiuk of the Falcons’ kneel-down. “It could be 74 or it was 67. It’s what they wanted to do.”
Cedar Bowl History
2012 – Cedar Crest 67, Lebanon 0
2011 – Lebanon 47, Cedar Crest 14
2010 – Lebanon 35, Cedar Crest 7
2009 – Cedar Crest 33, Lebanon 14
Note: Cedar Crest leads the all-time series 25-15-1