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AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 011 BY JEFF FALK

 PHOTOS BY LORI MESSERSMITH

MYERSTOWN – If there’s been an area of concern for the Annville-Cleona football squad this season it’s been their defense. But last night, the Little Dutchmen stepped up, and a weakness became a strength.

On Friday night at Elco Stadium, a goal-line defensive stand by Annville-Cleona was the difference, as the Little Dutchmen shaded the host Raiders 27-21 in an entertaining Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three opener for both sides. Annville-Cleona stopped Elco feature back Tyler Horst on a fourth-down-and-goal snap out of the wildcat formation, with 26 seconds remaining, to preserve the victory.

The Raiders had reached the A-C one-yard line on nine plays – including an earlier fourth-down conversion by Horst out of the wildcat and Nate Beamer’s 24-yard reception of a quarterback Kyle Knight pass – after Beamer returned a fumble 53 yards to the Little Dutchmen 40-yard line. Annville-Cleona’s only turnover of the game came deep in Elco territory, during a drive that could’ve iced the outcome.

The result moved Annville-Cleona to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the section. The Raiders fell to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the league.

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 006“The offense hasn’t been a problem. We can run the ball and throw the ball,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Matt Gingrich. “The big issue is aggression on defense. Our defense is not as aggressive as it needs to be. They bent, but they didn’t break. It wasn’t perfect, and we’re not going to be the Steel Curtain.

“I’m happy they (the officials) didn’t see me calling a timeout (on the decisive fourth-down snap),” continued Gingrich. “I wanted a timeout because they put Horst in the wildcat and I wanted to make sure we were slanting the right way. They (his players) play 48 minutes in 90-degree temperatures, and mentally and physically the kids were spent. But we bust our butts in the weight room during the off season. They had something in the tank. We have three kids on the defensive line going one way.”

“We’ll probably find on tape the guy (official) blew the call,” said Elco head coach Bob Miller of the decisive play. “That’s what our kids said, and I believe them. We went with our best play. We had our best player going behind our best offensive linemen.”

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 014“They (the Little Dutchmen) beat us in the weight room,” Miller continued. “They have 35 guys who hit the weight room all summer long. We didn’t get close to that. They’re smaller than us, but they’re stronger than us.”

The Little Dutchmen scored what would prove to be the winning points 1:18 into the final period, on Dylan Bomgardner’s 49-yard ramble to ‘The House’ – Annville-Cleona’s third long touchdown run of the evening. That made it a two-score game at 27-14.

The Raiders responded on their ensuing possession, in the form of Knight’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Eshleman. It capped a nine-play, 71-yard Elco possession that ended with 6:24 to go.

“That’s the triple option,” said Gingrich. “It’s like novacaine. Give it a while and it sets in. You can score some points and you can get some long plays. That’s triple option football. Three yards. Three yards. Thirty-five yards. It makes 16-year-olds get tired and when 16-year-olds get tired, they make bad decisions.

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 013“We played Hanover last week and that was a good game,” Gingrich added. “We’ve played some good games. Our fans might not like it, but they’re getting their money’s worth. It was a typical Lebanon County game.”

“We just need to clean up some mistakes that stopped drives and gave them big plays,” said Miller. “We’re a team that has shown a lot of heart. We can’t fix the past. But we can change the future.”

Annville-Cleona enjoyed a 20-14 margin at the break, courtesy of quarterback Nate Myers’ 12-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds left in the second quarter. That score resulted from a seven-play, 67-yard march.

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 012A minute and 44 seconds earlier, the Raiders had grabbed a 14-13 edge on Horst’s eight-yard burst to the end zone. Elco’s seven-play, 56-yard possession was set up by Beamer’s nice return of a Little Dutchmen kickoff.

“That’s the most important thing,” said Gingrich of his side’s 1-0 start to section play. “The playoffs isn’t our focus. We want to play our butts off, and if the playoff gods smile on us than so be it. I want them (his players) to get better from beginning to end. We played a tough non-league schedule and that set us up.”

“We have some warriors on this team who are fun to coach,” said Miller. “They’re fighting for every yard, every tackle. We have a ton of spirit, but we don’t have commitment.”

Elco opened the scoring with 4:02 left in the first quarter when Knight turned good field position into a 19-yard touchdown run to the left pylon. But the Little Dutchmen responded midway through the second stanza, as Myers broke into the Elco secondary and out raced the Raider defense 77 yards to pay dirt.



Annville-Cleona assumed its first lead of the evening on Caleb Turner’s 54-yard scoring ramble, which made it 13-7, with 5:09 to go before halftime.

“They’re great guys,” said Gingrich of the Raiders. “Horst is one of the coolest kids I’ve ever been around. But for our part, we haven’t gotten many breaks. I’m happy we finally got one. To finally get that, I hope it gives the kids confidence.

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 068“I think they’re (the Raiders) a lot better than they were against Palmyra,” Gingrich continued. “They’ve improved. I think they found their identity. They’ve got good kids. They’ve got tough kids. They’re going to win a lot of games. I hope they win every game they play after this.”

“They’re a well-coached disciplined team,” said Miller of the Little Dutchmen. “And they popped a couple of big ones on us.”

The total yards were a dead heat – 399 for Annville-Cleona and 399 for Elco.

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 043Turner rushed 16 times for 129 yards, Myers carried 13 times for 115 yards and Bomgardner contributed 87 yards on seven totes. Horst piled up 142 yards on 32 carries, while Knight gained an even hundred on nine touches.

Knight also completed 13 of his 23 pass attempts for 176 yards and an interception. Beamer hauled in seven of those aerials for 84 receiving yards.

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 073 2016 Annville-Cleona Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
08/26
Trinity
7:00 PM L 27-55
09/02
Biglerville
7:00 PM W 35-30
09/09
@Camp Hill
7:00 PM L 34-54
09/16
@Hanover
7:00 PM W 35-26
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/23 *
@Elco
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/30 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/07 *
@Columbia
7:00 PM Columbia High School
10/14 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/28 *
@Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Pequea Valley High School
11/04 *
Donegal
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School

 

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AC-ELCO FOOTBALL 0042016 Elco Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/02
@Susquenita
7:00 PM W 17-7
09/09
Palmyra
7:00 PM L 0-28
09/16
@Fleetwood
7:00 PM W 29-26
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/23 *
Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/30 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM Donegal High School
10/07 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
10/14 *
Columbia
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/21 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/28
@Muhlenberg
7:00 PM Muhlenberg High School
11/04 *
@Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Pequea Valley High School

 

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