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IMG_7285BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – It was an old-school, knock-down-drag-out defensive struggle. And it was more about what each sides did to one another than what they did to themselves.

It was also very appropriate that it was decided by a defenisve play.

On a balmy Saturday evening at Elco Stadium, Elijah Herb’s block of an extra-point attempt was the difference, as the hometown Raiders shaded visiting Lebanon High, 7-6. With both defenses flying all over the field throughout, it was Elco which turned in the play of the game, after the Cedars had pulled to within a point of its lead.

IMG_7223Herb burst through the left side of the Lebanon line and got a hand on the PAT attempt. That made senior teamate Josh Behney’s successful extra-point 1:23 earlier the game-winner.

Not only did the contest represent Lebanon’s first-ever Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three game, the outcome gave the Raiders’ a rare 2-0 start to their season. As for the now 0-2 Cedars, they were again left with positives to take from a defeat.

“The difference was special teams,” said Elco head coach Bob Miller. “That’s been a great point of emphasis for us this season. They (the Cedars) had a penalty (after the touchdown that made the PAT 25 yards in length). I was pretty excited when someone was able to burst through the middle and take that on.

IMG_7138“We’re continuing to grow,” continued Miller. “I’m pleased we reached two of our goals tonight. It’s easy to see in a win like this. You don’t win without guys caring. We’re growing. We’re building.”

“There’s positives all over the place,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk. “They (the Raiders) had one drive all game. There was so much to like about our team’s physical effort. The difference was a special teams mistake. They made their extra-point and we didn’t.

“One of their guys came through the ‘A’ gap,” Yonckuik continued. “He hopped over and got in there. That’s what happened.”

Following a defense-dominated, score-less first half, Elco broke out on top first, with 3:18 of the third stanza remaining. The Raiders marched 75 yards in ten plays – all runs – to take a 7-0 lead.

Sophomore quarterback Braden Bohannon did the honors for Elco, on a four-yard burst off left tackle. It was Bohannon who had scampered 49 yards down the right sideline on the second play of the possession.

“It feels great,” said Miller of his side’s unblemished mark. “But not because of the record, but because of the team culture. If we continue to do what we’re doing right now, I don’t care what our record is.

“We’re going to win the right way, with the right attitude,” added Miller. “We have to have a better culture and winning is going to be a by-product. We will coach the culture and football experience first.”

“To hold them (the Raiders) to one score, I’m very proud of the defensive effort,” said Yonchiuk. “It was tremendous. But we have to figure out what we need to do offensively to sustain drives.

“Last week we were over-matched, but we improved,” Yonchiuk added. “It takes all facets of the game to win. We had just too many breakdowns. That’s something that has to be cleaned up.”

IMG_7287The Cedars’ response to Elco’s touchdown was emphatic, and initially came in the form of a long return of the ensuing kickoff, by Alexander Rufe. That put Lebanon in business at the Elco 25-yard-line, and quarterback Isaiah Rodriguez went to work with a 13-yard completion to teammate Leighton Rivera.

Two plays later, Rodriguez found a sliding Andrew Bowers in the middle of the end zone, with a six-yard strike to pull Lebanon to within 7-6 of the Raiders’ lead.

“When we came in at halftime, the mistakes we were making were communication related,” said Miller. “I told them (his players) that if they were going to make mistakes they had to respond with good things. They’re easily correctible if you have mentally tough kids.

“I thought it would be a little more offensive,” Miller continued. “Their (the Cedars’) defense was a lot faster than I thought it would be. I thought we’d score more.”

“We missed out on some opportunities,” said Yonchiuk. “I thought we wore on them, but you’ve got to get the ball in the end zone. It was just a frustrating loss.

IMG_7151“We’ve got a ways to go, offensively,” continued Yonchiuk. “We knew that coming in. Our quarterback has got to get rid of the ball faster.”

Rodriguez uncorked 25 pass attempts in the first half alone, completing 11 for 106 passing yards. On the other side, the Raiders fumbled four times and endured 35 yards in penalties in the opening half.

There were a number of deep penetrations by both teams, but for the most part the action was confined to midfield.

“We didn’t scare them,” said Miller, “and they didn’t scare us.

“But they (the Cedars) battled, didn’t they?,” continued Miller. “They’re tough kids. They gave everything they had. I wouldn’t like a close game like this every week, but that was great football.”

IMG_7173“They’re gritty,” said Yonchiuk of the Raiders. “They’re well-coached. We let them hang around. We felt it should’ve been 14-0 at halftime. We kind of stagnated in the second half.”

The Raiders attempted only four passes all night, but rushed 46 times for 180 yards. The Elco defense limited Lebanon to 176 yards of total offense.

With 130 rushing yards on 24 carries, Bohannon was the game’s leading ground gainer.

“The effort was good,” said Miller. “Last week (in a 20-0 shutout of Susquenita) we only had three penalties and no fumbles. Tonight the effort was there, but we were constantly killing ourselves with silly mistakes.”

“I don’t know where we are,” said Yonchiuk. “We won’t know until we see the film. I think we have some things to build on defensively. Defense has been our Achiles Heel in the past. But when you get opportunities, you’ve got to score.”

 

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IMG_7221To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

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IMG_7213 2018 Lebanon High Football Schedule
DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
08/24
Cedar Crest
7:00 PM L 19-42
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/01 *
@Elco
6:00 PM Elco High School
09/07 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Lebanon High School
09/14 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM Donegal High School
09/21 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
09/28 *
Columbia
7:00 PM Lebanon High School
10/05 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Lebanon High School
10/12 *
@Ephrata
7:00 PM Ephrata High School
10/19 *
@Octorara
7:00 PM Octorara Area High School
10/26 *
Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Lebanon High School

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IMG_7315 2018 Elco Football Schedule 
DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
08/24
Susquenita
7:00 PM W 20-0
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/01 *
Lebanon
6:00 PM Elco High School
09/07 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
09/14 *
@Octorara
7:00 PM Octorara Area High School
09/21 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/28 *
@Ephrata
7:00 PM Ephrata High School
10/05 *
Donegal
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/12 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/19 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/26 *
@Columbia
7:00 PM Columbia High School

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