BY JEFF FALK
The 2012 campaign has already been a success for the Elco football team. But if the Raiders aren’t content, it could be a very successful one.
On Saturday afternoon in Myerstown, the Raiders officially anointed it successful by defeating Columbia 35-14. The Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three affair was completed on Saturday, after being suspended by Friday night thunderstorms, and the Raiders nursing a 7-6 edge in the second quarter.
With the score tied at 14 with less than seven minutes to play, Elco rattled off 21 unanswered points to win going away. All three of those Raider touchdowns were tallied by senior utility man Adam Shoemaker, who finished with four scores.
With the result, Elco improved to 5-3 on the year and 3-2 in the section. The Raiders, who are currently ranked 19th in a District Three Class AAA field that takes 16 for its playoff tournament, end 2012 with road dates at Annville-Cleona and North Schuylkill.
What proved to be the turning point for the Raiders came in the middle of the final stanza. After Elco’s goal-line stand denied the Crimson Tide a go-ahead score, freshman quarterback Jeff Martin found Shoemaker for a 96-yard, game-changing scoring strike.
Shoemaker then added a short TD burst with two-and-a-half minutes remaining to put Elco up 28-14. He placed an exclamation point on the uprising by returning an interception 57 yards with 30 seconds left.
Elco junior Cameron Strause, Lebanon County’s leading rusher, had given his club a 7-0 lead on Friday night with a 28-yard scoring jaunt, before the storms hit Myerstown. Shoemaker made it a 14-6 game just before Satruday’s senior-night halftime, on a 50-yard run into the Crimson Tide end zone.
Shoemaker finished the game with 117 yards rushing, while Strause piled up 98 yards on the ground. The Raiders out gained the Crimson Tide 355 total yards to 239.
Elsewhere in high school football over the weekend:
Annville-Cleona 30, Pequea Valley 28
On Saturday afternoon in Annville, the Little Dutchmen also kept their postseason dreams alive by edging the Braves. The contest was suspended Friday night by the same band of thunderstorms, the completed less than 24 hours later.
Annville-Cleona won it when it denied Pequea Valley a potential game-tying two-point conversion with less than two minutes to play. The Little Dutchmen had taken a 30-22 lead with 2:50 to play when senior Nat Hughes returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown.
The triumph pushed Annville-Cleona to 3-5 on the year and 2-2 in Section Three of the L-L. The Little Dutchmen are currently ranked ninth among Class AA teams in District Three, and eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Pequea Valley is now 3-5 on the season and 1-3 in the league.
Annville-Cleona built a 23-6 lead in the middle of the third quarter on a 54-yard sprint to paydirt by junior scatback Mitch Rodkey. Moments prior, Little Dutchman Taylor Prentice had broken the plane from five yards out.
Rodkey gained 157 rushing yards on 29 totes of the pigskin. As a team, Annville-Cleona posted 248 rushing yards, but surrendered more than 300 yards of passing offense to the Braves.
Following a scoreless couple of minutes on Friday night, Adam Connor got Annville-Cleona on the board first on Saturday, in the form of a six-yard touchdown jaunt. Sam Soliday’s 24-yard field goal proved to be the difference in the Little Dutchmen’s 9-6 halftime margin.
McCaskey 42, Cedar Crest 41, OT
On Saturday night at Earl Boltz Stadium in South Lebanon, the Falcons were done in by a failed two-point conversion try at the end of their only possession of overtime. Following Chuck Yost’s short touchdown run, a pass attempt that would have given Cedar Crest a win was defended by the Red Tornado.
The Falcons had rallied from a 35-21 deficit to force overtime on a short TD run by Erikson Gonzalez with 30 ticks showing on the game clock. Three minutes earlier, Cedar Crest had gotten a 27-yard touchdown gallop out of Yost.
The game was originally suspended by storms on Friday night, and picked up on Saturday evening.
Thanks in part to two Gage Ocker touchdowns – one receiving and one rushing – the game was tied at 14 early in the second period. A 14-yard hook-up between quarterback Nick Cascarino and Denzel Pierre re-tied the score at 21, but McCaskey took a seven-point lead to the locker room.
The Falcons amassed 238 yards on the ground and 387 yards total. But Cedar Crest yielded 512 total yards, 311 of which came from rushing.
Yost piled up 125 rushing yards, while teammate Grant Ocker collected 90.
Garden Spot 30, Northern Lebanon 0
At New Holland, under rainy conditions on Friday night, the host Spartans were ungracious hosts, as they refused to share the football with their visitors from Fredericksburg. Following a scoreless opening 12 minutes of action, Garden Spot hit Northern Lebanon with a 17-point second quarter.
The Vikings’ sixth straight loss left them 2-6 overall and 0-4 in Section Three of the L-L. At 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the circuit, the Spartans remained unbeaten.
Northern Lebanon ran just 30 plays from scrimmage all evening, compared to Garden Spot’s 60. The Vikings managed only three first downs, while the Spartans rang up 20.
The Spartans drove the length of the field to take a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Then Garden Spot capitalized on two Northern Lebanon fumbles to up its advantage to 17-0 at the break.
The Spartans out gained Northern Lebanon 257-41 on the ground and 332-46 in total.
Mechanicsburg 42, Palmyra 19
In Mechanicsburg on Friday night, the Cougars gave the Wildcats all they wanted, before succumbing. Offensively, it was one of Palmyra’s finest performances of 2012.
But the result dropped Palmyra to 0-8 on the campaign and 0-5 in Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. Mechanicsburg is now 4-4.
On 30 carries, Palmyra ran up 353 yards of rushing and finished the contest with 447 yards of total offense. The Cougars surrendered 370 yards to the Wildcats.
Palmyra opened a 7-0 lead when senior signal-caller Mason Laudermilch sneaked a yard into the end zone. But Mechanicsburg scored the next five touchdowns to take control of the outcome.
Cougar senior bruiser Dino Faiola picked up 139 yards on the ground on 16 carries. It was Faiola who tallied a 12-yard touchdown in the third stanza to pull his club to within 35-13.
A 17-yard touchdown toss from Laudermilch to sophomore Mitchell Cooper in the final period accounted for Palmyra’s other points. Cooper caught seven passes for 109 yards.
Conestoga Valley 64, Lebanon 6
The Cedars surrendered 60-plus points for the third time this season. With the loss, the Cedars fell to 0-8 in 2012 and 0-5 in Section Two of the L-L.