HUGHESVILLE - Barely anyone spoke as Loyalsock defensive end Bobby Oeler lay in a stretcher while being lifted into the ambulance. His ankle was gruesomely broken and the pain went beyond something many could comprehend, but Oeler was not thinking about himself.
Before the ambulance doors shut and he was taken to the hospital, Oeler gave his teammates one final message.
"I don't know how he was able to choke through the pain, but once he was able to he said 'I love you guys and keep going,'" Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet said. "That represents how much character that boy has. In that moment of so much pain that was the first thing that came to his mind and hopefully that's a sentiment that is felt by the entire team."
Hughesville players watch as Loyalsock’s Bobby Oeler is loaded into an ambulance after breaking his ankle Friday night at Hughesville.
It certainly was Friday. Loyalsock rallied around its fallen teammate and delivered a superb all-around effort, beating Hughesville, 42-21 and winning a regular-season game there for the first time this century. Kyle Datres accounted for all six touchdowns, the defense was dominant and the offensive line outstanding as Loyalsock (4-3) honored Oeler the best way possible.
Oeler was operated on late last night and his teammates were headed to the hospital after the game. Oeler inspired them and this win was his.
"We were all shaken at first and we call came together and played for him," linebacker Robbie Newton said. "If we're down we definitely come back as a team."
"He's been with those guys in the pits all season and fought through injuries and sacrificed for the team so emotionally when he went down all those guys wanted to do was play for him," said Van Fleet, who added it was the worst injury he's ever witnessed. "They certainly were inspired by him. I'll be inspired for the rest of my life because to think that a boy who's leg is completely shattered and his hopes and dreams at that moment shattered, still has a full heart for all the boys around him is touching."
When Oeler was injured the game was tied. Following a 20-minute delay and Oeler's departure, linebacker Aaron Hepburn dropped Alec Walter for a 2-yard loss. That touched off a remarkable half-ending stretch in which Loyalsock held Hughesville (1-6) to minus yards or no yards on 11 of its final 12 plays. The only time Hughesville gained positive yards during that stretch was for one yard.
Newton made three straight tackles for losses at one point. Together, he and Hepburn seemed to be everywhere, combining for 22 tackles and two sacks. Add in defensive end Cody McCracken controlling things up front, linebacker Mickey Haller chasing down ball-carriers and Caleb Robbins make a critical interception that set up the go-ahead second-quarter score and Loyalsock's defense set the tone on a night its offense gained 429 yards.
"We definitely wanted to step up for Bobby because he has worked hard all year," Datres said.
Robbins' first scholastic interception set up Datres for a 6-yard touchdown that Ryan Bogaczyk opened with a great block. Bogaczyk had four pancake blocks and that touchdown ignited a 21-point flurry.
Hughesville trailed 20-7 early in the third quarter and appeared to force a three-and-out on Loyalsock's opening series. Datres, though, caught the Spartans off guard when he called his own number and faked a punt. Datres used a terrific ball-fake to evade the first defender and pick up the first down. Then he made a series of great cuts and went 52 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-7.
"We were working on it in practice this week and coach said they don't stay at home on the punt so he said if you think you can get it, go for it," Datres said. "I saw the opening and took it. They said don't even come back to the sideline if you don't get it, but I went for it and it paid off."
Datres ran for 125 yards and four touchdowns while throwing for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Dougherty turned a 3rd-and-long pass in the flat into a 36-yard touchdown in the second quarter and Phil Krizan caught a 35-yard touchdown in the third quarter, making it 35-14. McCracken, Hepburn, Jake Glavin, Bryce Losch and Henry Rainey were some of the offensive lineman who played great up front and gave Datres ample time to throw while paving the way for 297 rushing yards.
Jimmy Webb enjoyed a breakout second half, running for a career-high 76 yards on 10 carries behind that strong line.
Sophomore receiver Clint Snyder played outstanding for Hughesville, catching three long passes, including a touchdown, that covered 103 yards. Two of those catches were difficult ones with cornerbacks draped on him. Freshman Ethan Duff played well too, making a team-high 12 tackles.
Justin Lambert ran for a 39-yard touchdown on a fourth-down third-quarter play, cutting the deficit to 14, but Loyalsock answered and scored on its next two drives, while never letting Oeler venture far from their minds.
"Our defense had some great stops, we had some big sacks and the line did fantastic on offense," Newton said. "It was a team effort. We won as a team."
They won for Oeler.