BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – It was a great game. It had a little bit of everything – triumphs and setbacks, great plays and mistakes, momentum swings, playoff implications and intriguing match-ups.
It was extremely representative of both combatant’s campaigns, and a microcosm of Lebanon County’s 2019 scholastic football regular season as a whole.
On a perfect Friday night at Annville-Cleona High School, the homestanding Little Dutchmen edged visiting Lebanon 31-30 in a whale of a regular-season finale for both local squads. After the Cedars had rallied from two different two-touchdown deficits to take a 30-28 advantage early in the fourth quarter, Annville-Cleona won it on junior kicker Mac Plummer’s 26-yard field goal with 2:56 remaining.
Annville-Cleona out gained Lebanon 403 total yards to 278. Little Dutchmen senior fullback Trevor Porche piled up 266 rushing yards, and he and quarterback Junior Bours combined for 51 rushing attempts.
The outcome meant a lot to both sides.
With the win, Annville-Cleona completed its regular year 6-4 overall and 6-3 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. The outcome also likely nailed down a District Three playoff berth for the Little Dutchmen, Class AAA’s fourth seed and a home playoff game next Friday at 7 p.m., against an opponent to be determined.
With the loss, Lebanon concluded its regular-season at 6-4, 6-3 in Section Three. Because of the L-L League’s expected realignment, the contest was the Cedars’ final one in Section Three.
“We had amazing expectations, not all of which we lived up to,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Matt Gingrich. “We had amazing performances. It’s highs and lows. It’s peaks and valleys. We had a car accident where we almost lost three kids. It’s got everything.
“But we’re 6-4 and we have a home playoff game,” continued Gingrich. “If we win next week, all of those losses are erased. We’re playing up (in classification) ever single week, except for two of them. And we’ve held our own. I’m just proud of them (his players).”
“I can’t say right now,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk, when asked to put into words his team’s back-and-forth campaign. “It’s too fresh in my mind. But there’s no question it’s been a success.
“We wanted to finish second in the section with Elco,” Yonchiuk added. “Last year we were 5-5, and we wanted to go 7-3. This hurts.”
Plummer’s game-winner resulted from a 13-play, 62-yard Little Dutchmen possession. It also made ammends for Plummer’s missed 30-yard field goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Cedars had taken a 30-28 lead, 3:14 into the final period, following Joseph Mejias-Rios’ four-yard touchdown run. To that point, it had been Lebanon’s razzle-dazzle Alex Rufe-to-Skylar Sattizahn two-point conversion that had been the difference in the score.
“There was no question about it. He made the other one too,” said Gingrich of Plummer’s field goal attempts. “We played physical. We turned it over one time. We did what we had to do. It wasn’t pretty, but we played well.
“They’re (the Cedars) a six-A school,” Gingrich continued. “We actually out kicked our coverage. I’m happy with how we played. Even if we lost, I would’ve been happy because we played hard.”
“We played our tails off in the second half,” said Yonchiuk. “It was a heck of a football game. We lost by a field goal. The effort our guys gave was tremendous. We wanted to win this one.”
After the Little Dutchmen had enjoyed a 21-8 cushion at the break, Lebanon needed just 1:28 of the third quarter to pull within seven points of the lead. It was Mejias-Rios who broke off a 32-yard jaunt to ‘The House’.
But a snap after Annville-Cleona had turned the Cedars over on downs, Porche sprinted 60 yards to paydirt to make it 28-14, A-C. Lebanon’s response came on its next possession, in the form of a nine-play, 69-yard march and quarterback Isaiah Rodriguez’s two-yard touchdown plunge.
“I’m at a loss for words on how to get them (his players) to play like that,” said Gingrich. “If I could, we’d be 8-2.
“We ran three plays all night,” added Gingrich. “If we can get a push and get the right read, we should be able to move the ball. Trevor’s worked his butt off. He was ready to carry the load. I’d love to spread it around. But sometimes you hunker down and do whatever it takes to win a game.”
“They’re hard to stop,” said Yonchiuk of the Little Dutchmen. “The veer is a pain in the butt. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to keep fighting. Our guys did a better job against it in the second half.
“You can’t simulate it (the veer) in practice,” continued Yonchiuk. “It’s like trying to replicate the Air Raid (offense). You’ve got to be gap sound. It’s just a matter of execution. They (the Little Dutchmen) executed offensively. They got off the ball and their quarterback (Bours) had a good game.”
Annville-Cleona grabbed a 7-0 lead with 1:52 left in the opening quarter on an 18-yard Porche burst. The touchdown capped a 12-run, 82-yard Little Dutchmen drive.
Then in the middle of the second quarter, the Little Dutchmen pieced together a similar 13-play, 85-yard possession and came away with Bours’ six-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead.
It took the Cedars all of 43 seconds to answer, as they turned a good Rufe kickoff return and two A-C penalties into a Rodriguez one-yard sneak and a two-point Rufe run into the scoring sequence that made it 14-8. But the Little Dutchmen scored again 17 seconds before halftime, on a one-yard Bours dive.
“They’re very good,” said Gingrich of the Cedars. “That quarterback (Rodriguez) is a stud and that number-five (Rufe) is a stud. But they had to earn their 30 points.”
“Defensively, we got off the field in the second half,” said Yonchiuk. “We were able to play fast and score. We were even able to mix in some wild cat (offense).”
For the Cedars, Mejias-Rios carried 10 times for 81 yards. Rodriguez completed 14 of his 25 pass attempts for 140 yards.
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at Cedar Crest
at Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
at Milton Hershey
at Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
Class AAAAAA Power Rankings
|12||Central Dauphin East||3-||6-||0||0.531869||0.442424||0.641190||3.7||55.0||4.6||30.8|
|17||J P McCaskey||0-||9-||0||0.330525||0.000000||0.734499||0.0||69.3||7.1||25.1|
|18||York County School of Technology||0-||9-||0||0.190682||0.000000||0.423739||0.0||37.0||9.7||50.3|
Class AAA Power Rankings
Final Section Three Standings
|L-L LEAGUE SECTION THREE|