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BY JEFF FALK

PHOTOS BY LORI MESSERSMITH

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 051SOUTH LEBANON – While it is the most fleeting of elements, momentum is also the most integral part of football, especially in big games like the Cedar Bowl.

No one was quite sure why or how the momentum ultimately switched to the Cedar Crest side. But one thing was for sure: Gage Ocker had his hands in the middle of it.

On Friday night, before several thousand people at Earl Boltz Stadium, the reads, decision-making and overall play of Ocker at the quarterback spot propelled the Falcons to a  season-opening 40-24 victory over Lebanon High, in Cedar Bowl XLII. Ocker, who was on the bench for most of the second quarter as part of a time share with Josh Bucher, tallied four touchdowns after the Cedars had taken a brief 18-13 lead early in the second half, and finished with 166 yards rushing on 14 keepers.

With the win, Cedar Crest now leads the all-time Cedar Bowl series 26-15-1. Last season, the Falcons walloped Lebanon High 67-0.

“They did share time in the first half,” said Cedar Crest head coach Tom Waranavage of his quarterback platoon situation. “In the second half we got into a situation where Josh started to play a whole lot of defense. Gage was fresh and we started riding him. I just went with the fresher guy.

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 031“I thought Gage did a nice job of running the offense,” Waranavage continued. “When there was a chance to keep the ball, he kept the ball. And when there was a chance to hand the ball off, he handed it off. I pulled him aside in the third quarter and told him he was trying to do too much. We showed a dimension that we didn’t have before. We have a quarterback that can run the football.”

“He’s a good athlete,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk of Ocker. “He handled the ball well. He put his team in position to win. But I think they have a cast of skill people. They can score points in many different ways.

“Sometimes momentum is like a light switch,” added Yonchiuk. “They got the ball and got it going. I couldn’t tell you why.”

With that elusive momentum squarely in the Cedars’ corner, Ocker took the ball – and matters – into his own hands. His 11-yard jaunt with 5:51 of the third-quarter remaining got the Falcons the lead back for good, at 19-18. But he was just getting started.

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 004Four minutes later, the 6-2 senior capped a six-play, 58-yard Falcon possession with a nine-yard romp that made it 26-18. Then three minutes into the final stanza, Ocker raced 68 yards down the right sidelines for the touchdown that upped Cedar Crest’s advantage to 33-18.

After Lebanon High had moved to within 33-24 on a long touchdown collaboration between quarterback Mark Pyles and speedster Geronimo Rodriguez, Ocker placed the finishing touchdown on his masterpiece. With 2:29 remaining, he bulled over from nine yards out to cap a six-run, 65-yard Falcon march.

“There were a couple of points where we could’ve packed it in,” said Waranavage. “But we just kept fighting the fight and plugging away. I thought our offensive line took control, and Gage played well. I’m proud of our kids.

“What helped swing the momentum was maturity, I think,” Waranavage continued. “I also thought that we, as a coaching staff, got to our kids. It wasn’t about getting on them for their effort, it was about execution. In the first half, we had four possessions and four good drives. In the second half, our number paid dividends.”

“Both teams were disappointed that they were cramping up,” said Yonchiuk. “We lost some key people. That may have helped with their momentum. But we had to take some good players off the field.

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 035“I know they (the Falcons) got outside of us, and that was a concern,” Yonchiuk added. “But our inside guys were running to the ball. That’s a positive.”

With Cedar Crest nursing a 13-6 halftime margin, Lebanon High came out in the third quarter and tallied two quick touchdowns, thanks to a Falcon fumble. Pyles hit Daniel Caricabeur twice for TDs, first from 37 yards out and then from 23 yards, in a matter of 48 seconds, to give the Cedars an 18-13 margin.

“It was a little bit of what we were talking about earlier, just keep knocking on the door, and it will open,” said Waranavage. “Their kids played hard. They were prepared. I told Coach Yonchiuk he does a great job with his team. They’re going to win some games. The Pyles kid is good.

“In five years, that’s the most intense Cedar Bowl, I’ve been a part of,” continued Waranavge. “That’s a rivalry game. That’s the way it should be.”

“I thought our guys played hard tonight,” said Yonchiuk. “They didn’t back down. We lost the ball game, but I was really pleased with the way we played. In 2012, it was over at halftime. That’s what this is all about.

“It shows our guys are capable of playing football and it shows we’re really improved,” Yonchiuk added.

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 037The Falcons opened the scoring on their second possession, when senior wide-out Denzel Pierre swept right for a 25-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Cedars then drove 84 yards in nine snaps to get a Pyles plunge on a fourth-down-and-six, but missed the extra point.

But on the first snap of the second period, Cedar Crest’s Damon Edwards made it a 13-6 game with an 11-yard scoring burst.

“We’re 1-0, and come Sunday night or Monday morning, Week Two will be the next, most important game,” said Waranavage. “If we keep plugging away, things will happen. It’s finally good not to play our best and still win a football game.”

“They have weapons,” said Yonchiuk of the Falcons. “All four of their skill people are dangerous, and number ten (Grant Boehler) ran tough. They have talented guys.

“They ran the ball well,” Yonchiuk added. “They did enough things well to win the ball game.”

In out gaining Lebanon High 452 total yards to 353, Cedar Crest racked up 371 yards on the ground. Tailback Boehler complemented Ocker with 87 yards on 12 carries.

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 007Pyles completed 17 of 31 throws for 267 yards, and added 21 rushing attempts for 90 yards. Falcon sophomore star Evan Horn touched the ball only once, but was all over the field on defense.

 

Cedar Bowl History

2013 – Cedar Crest 40, Lebanon 24

2012 – Cedar Crest 67, Lebanon 0

2011 – Lebanon 47, Cedar Crest 14

2010 – Lebanon 35, Cedar Crest 7

2009 – Cedar Crest 33, Lebanon 14CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 003

2008 — Lebanon 39, Cedar Crest 7
2007 — Cedar Crest 30, Lebanon 19
2006 — Lebanon 28, Cedar Crest 7
2005 — Lebanon 14, Cedar Crest 13
2004 — Cedar Crest 34, Lebanon 7
2003 — Lebanon 29, Cedar Crest 24
2002 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 7
2001 — Cedar Crest 42, Lebanon 24
2000 — Cedar Crest 39, Lebanon 6
1999 — Cedar Crest 42, Lebanon 6
1998 — Cedar Crest 63, Lebanon 21
1997 — Cedar Crest 49, Lebanon 12CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 012
1996 — Lebanon 41, Cedar Crest 6
1995 — Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 0
1994 — Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 0
1993 — Cedar Crest 35, Lebanon 20
1992 — Lebanon 7, Cedar Crest 0
1991 — Cedar Crest 20, Lebanon 14
1990 — Lebanon 35, Cedar Crest 31
1989 — Lebanon 13, Cedar Crest 6
1988 — Lebanon 0, Cedar Crest 0
1987 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 6
1986 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 0
1985 — Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 23
1984 — Lebanon 23, Cedar Crest 7
1983 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 7
1982 — Cedar Crest 23, Lebanon 0CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 014
1981 — Lebanon 15, Cedar Crest 9
1980 — Cedar Crest 15, Lebanon 13
1979 — Cedar Crest 34, Lebanon 0
1978 — Lebanon 14, Cedar Crest 0
1977 — Cedar Crest 20, Lebanon 8
1976 — Lebanon 14, Cedar Crest 6
1975 — Cedar Crest 32, Lebanon 14
1974 — Cedar Crest 39, Lebanon 8
1973 — Lebanon 22, Cedar Crest 0
1972 — Cedar Crest 15, Lebanon 13

Note: Cedar Crest leads the all-time series 26-15-1

 

Lebanon 6-0-12-6 – 24
Cedar Crest 7-6-13-14 – 40

First Quarter

CC – Pierre 25 run (Frost kick)

L – Pyles 6 run (kick failed)

Second Quarter

CC – Edwards 11 run (kick failed)

Third Quarter

L – Caricabeur 37 pass from Pyles (kick failed)

L – Caricabeur 18 pass from Pyles (pass failed)

CC – Ocker 11 run (pass failed)

CC – Ocker 8 run (Frost kick)

Fourth Quarter

CC – Ocker 68 run (Frost kick)

L – Rodriguez 69 pass from Pyles (Pass failed)

CC – Ocker 9 run (Frost kick)

L – CC
First downs 18 – 21
Rushes-yards 30-127 – 29-356
Passing 17-29-0 – 4-9-1
Passing yards 234 – 86
Total yards 371 – 442
Punts 4-40.0 – 0-0.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 – 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 – 12-95

 

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing:L – Pyles 20-84, Caricabeur 7-23, Eisenhour 3-20; CC – Ocker 12-161, Boehler 13-87, Edwards 9-57, Yost 1-33, Pierre 1-25, Horn 1-5, Bucher 1- (-2), Kintzer 1- (-6).

Passing:L – Pyles 17-29-0-244. CC – Ocker 3-6-0-72, Bucher 1-3-1-14.

Receiving:L – De La Cruz 4-70, Caricabeur 3-63, Eisenhour 3-4 Rodriguez 2-65, Cintron 2-6, Jimenez 1-12, Negron 1-10, Fureman 1-4. CC – Edwards 2-66, Lebo 2-20.

 

 

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