BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – Performing when the outcome is on the line is more than some sort of random act or good fortune. It’s a science, an art.
It requires a blending of preparation, a clear mind and talent.
On a humid Friday night at Lebanon Alumni Stadium, junior quarterback Isaiah Rodriguez’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Bowers with five seconds left gave hometown Lebanon a thrilling 14-9 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three victory over Lebanon County rival Elco. Out of a broken play, Rodriguez rolled left and threw against his body to Bowers, who was well covered in the left corner of the end zone.
The dramatic play capped the Cedars’ crucial 12-snap, 78-yard drive that began with them trailing 9-8, with less than three minutes remaining. On the winning march, the emerging Rodriguez went eight-for-ten for 68 passing yards and also ran for a first down.
The outcome was a nice bounce back for the now 1-1 Cedars, who had dropped a disappointing, season-opening decision to Cedar Crest in last week’s Cedar Bowl. For Elco, it was its second last-second setback in as many weeks.
“Wow. Just wow,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk. “It was a rollercoaster. There were ups and downs. We had led the whole game and it looked like we were going to lose by a point. It was a lesson in not giving up and staying calm.
“It was the break-down of a play,” continued Yonchiuk. “Isaiah reversed the field. We work on ‘scramble’ hard in practice. On every level, it’s the toughest thing on a defense. He threw a lazer. It was a heck of a team effort, and we didn’t panic. They knew what they had to do on that particular play. To make that throw when he was going left, that’s good stuff.”
“I don’t know what happened,” said Elco head coach Bob Miller. “They scored.
“We gave ever bit of effort we had,” Miller continued. “The other team scored in the final seconds, again.”
The Raiders had taken their first lead of the contest early in the final quarter. A high snap sailed over the Lebanon punter’s head and into the end zone, and he was forced to cover it for the safety that gave the Raiders a 9-8 edge.