SUNBURY - Brandon Smith and Todd Tilford share a mutual respect and admiration, but once Smith's former coach at Lewisburg left to take over his alma mater, Smith and the Green Dragons couldn't wait to show their former coach what he left behind.
The game would have to wait, but the talking didn't. Lewisburg spent the summer focusing on their soon-to-be new rival, but the challenge for new Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn was the game Lewisburg players wanted wasn't until Week 4.
The Green Dragons finally unleashed their pent up emotion on Friday night in Sunbury and, once that wore off and Lewisburg settled into the game, the Green Dragons picked up a 24-14 win over the only varsity coach they had known until Winn took over the Lewisburg program this year.
"We were excited for this game all year and coach had to settle us down," said Smith. "Week 4 finally rolled around and we were definitely excited about this but now it's over and it's time for Shamokin."
Shikellamy, playing on short rest after it played on Monday against rival Selinsgrove, showed a level of resiliency impressive for a group of young players. The Braves attended the funeral of the classmate that died in last week's car accident earlier in the day Friday, but showed their new coach he has a good group to mold as the season progresses.
"What a tall task for them both physically and emotionally with what they have gone through and for them to come out against a team like (Lewisburg) and compete, I'm proud of the way we competed," said Tilford. "We made a couple of mistakes again and allowed it to slip away."
The Braves (1-3) took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Green Dragons' defense came up with a big fourth-down stop in the second quarter to tilt the momentum. Following the turnover on downs on their own 41-yard line, the Green Dragons (3-1) took over and marched 59 yards on six plays for the game-tying score - a 34-yard pass from Nick Costagliola to Smith who dragged a defender into the end zone.
Costagliola played another efficient game, finishing 12 of 17 for 127 yards, and his two touchdown passes last night gave him seven for the season.
Max Reed continued to be weapon for the Green Dragons and gave his team a 10-7 lead right before the half with a 37-yard field goal. Reed was given the opportunity after Lewisburg converted a fourth-and-1 earlier in the drive at midfield on a Costagliola sneak that drew the ire of the Shikellamy sideline because it appeared the Lewisburg quarterback was stuffed initially before receiving a second push and what Shikellamy coaches considered a favorable spot.
"Shikellamy came to play and they played great and we had to do our best to hang with them early," said Winn. "We were very emotional early and it was a matter of settling down.
"This was a game they've been talking about since the summer and I had to stop the talk and tell them it's one week at a time. They were excited for this week to be here and that was a compliment to Todd because he has done a great job with the Lewisburg program and have helped those guys become who they have."
Special teams again played a role in the second half. Trailing just 17-14 after trading touchdowns in the third quarter, Shikellamy dropped to punt on a fourth-and-2 but the snap was errant and Lewisburg took over at the Shikellamy 12.
Lewisburg's offensive line, which opened initial space for Smith on many of his long runs, helped the Green Dragons power into the end zone with four consecutive runs - one by Michael Berger and the last three by Smith.
The final yard was a Smith 1-yard touchdown run over the left side of the line.
"We've been working hard, especially up front and that is the key to everything," said Smith. "When the line is blocking well, then it is easy for me to get some yards and they did a great job tonight. I'm proud of the guys' effort tonight."
Smith, who had three runs of 19 yards or longer, finished with 146 yards on 19 carries on his busiest night of the season. He added 81 reception yards and also helped lead another strong defensive effort by the Green Dragons that allowed a 100-yard rusher but held their ground when needed most.
Smith, who visited Penn State last weekend and said after the game he is considering the Nittany Lions along with Princeton, met with Tilford near midfield following the game and after exchanging a few words, Tilford patted his former all-state linebacker on the shoulder pads and the two went their separate ways once again.