BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – A playoff spot was well within the Annville-Cleona football team’s grasp. But the Little Dutchmen just couldn’t seem to get a handle on it.
Now they’re left hoping that it hasn’t slipped through their fingers all together.
On Friday evening, amid Senior Night festivities, Annville-Cleona was plagued by loose grips, turnovers and mistakes in general, as it dropped its regular-season finale to visiting Pequea Valley, 21-10. The Little Dutchmen lost four fumbles and had a pass intercepted, and all five of the turnovers either precluded them from scoring points or led to Pequea points.
A victory would’ve all but sewn up Annville-Cleona’s second straight District Three Class AA postseason appearance. What the outcome means is that the Little Dutchmen must now wait, watch and worry about the fate of their season.
Annville-Cleona, which concluded the regular year 6-4 overall and 2-4 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, was situated seventh in the most recent District Three Class AA power rankings, and the top eight get in. Now 6-4 on the fall and 3-3 in Section Three, the Braves entered the fray with the same hopes and dreams as the Little Dutchmen.
“How many turnovers did we lose? Five?,” asked Annville-Cleona first-year head coach Matt Gingrich rhetorically. “That’s how we played. But give credit where credit is due. They (the Braves) played well. Five turnovers aren’t going to win anything. And those turnovers were preventable.
“I’d say we were careless with the ball,” continued Gingrich. “There wasn’t a time when the ball was hit out. There was no mesh-point contact. That typically means you were running the right plays. I don’t think we were executing. That’s your word for the night – execute. But we’ve done very well not turning the ball over most of the year.”
Despite two-turnover induced touchdowns and an early 14-0 deficit, Annville-Cleona seemed to have momentum in its corner at halftime, thanks to ten points late in the first half.
Finally able to get a grip on the pigskin, Annville-Cleona drove 55 yards in ten plays early in the second period to get a 15-yard Adam Fox scamper to pay dirt – and when Fox ran in the two-point conversion, the Little Dutchmen were within 14-8. Then just 1:24 before the break, the Little Dutchmen defense came up with a safety when it forced an intentional grounding penalty in the Braves’ end zone.
“This was all about getting into districts,” said Gingrich. “I don’t know (if they can still get in). I don’t have a clue. But we didn’t help ourselves. I try and stay away from that. When I do numbers, it doesn’t work.
“I wouldn’t have been happy with it (6-4) at the beginning of the season,” added Gingrich. “I was hoping for a better outcome with this team. We had more injuries than I dealt with in a long time.”
In its attempt to get the go-ahead touchdown, Annville-Cleona encountered another fumble and a critical unsportsmanlike conduct early in the fourth quarter.
The Braves put the outcome out of reach with 2:26 to go, when Gabe Allgyer bowled over the goal line from five yards out. Allyger had set himself up two snaps earlier, with a 61-yard scamper.
“I said to them at halftime, ‘We had four turnovers, and we’re only down four points. We’re in great position,'” said Gingrich of his troops. “I thought the kids were really ready to go, really prepared. I thought we made a lot of good adjustments at halftime.
“You only get so many possessions in high school football,” continued Gingrich. “And if you fumble them away, you don’t get them back. You reap what you sew. You get what you deserve.”
Pequea Valley turned two Little Dutchmen turnovers into a 14-0 lead.
Quarterback Jordan Lapp gave the Braves a 7-0 lead with 2:34 of the first quarter remaining, with a 32-yard touchdown run. On the first play of the second period, Lapp hooked up with Jason Stoltzfus for a 44-yard scoring strike.
“I thought we played pretty much the same in each half,” said Gingrich. “I was hoping we’d play better in the second half. I was hoping we didn’t play well in the first half because of senior night. But we had a full night of not playing well.
“The defense didn’t play bad,” Gingrich added. “If there were 60 plays, for 30 plays the kids did their jobs. On ten plays, the kids broke down. And it was a different kid.”
Pequea Valley out gained Annville-Cleona 371 total yards to 343. Senior runner Will Langan fronted the Little Dutchmen offense with 147 yards on 28 carries, while Fox contributed 15 carries for 77 yards.
“That’s a good question,” said Gingrich. “I don’t know how the kids will handle this. We’ll find out early next week.
“Pequea Valley’s goals were to have their first winning season and to get into the playoffs,” Gingrich added. “It’s well deserved. They did what they do. There was not a single thing they did that we didn’t know about. It was all about execution, offensively and defensively.”
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Pequea Valley 21, Annville-Cleona 10
PV – Lapp 32 run (Doutrich kick)
PV – Stoltzfus 44 pass from Lapp (Doutrich kick)
A-C – Fox 15 run (Fox run)
A-C – safety, intentional grounding in end zone
PV – Allgyer 1 run (Doutrich kick)
Final Section Three Standings
2015 Annville-Cleona Football Results
|7:00 PM||W 39-36|
|7:00 PM||W 30-14|
|7:00 PM||W 28-16|
|7:00 PM||L 13-39|
|6:30 PM||L 39-40|
|1:00 PM||W 35-21|
|7:00 PM||W 33-8|
|7:00 PM||L 36-58|
|7:00 PM||W 35-8|
|7:00 PM||L 10-21|