LOCK HAVEN - The monkey that has been riding on the back of the Lock Haven University football team for 52 straight losses is gone.
Saturday afternoon at a noisy Hubert Jack Stadium, the Bald Eagles finally kicked the pest to the curb as they defeated the Cheyney Wolves, 15-7, in the 2012 season finale.
With the win, the Bald Eagles start a new streak that now stands at one win in a row.
Fans tear down the goal post after Lock?Haven ended its 52-game losing streak with a 15-7 win over Cheyney on Saturday at Hubert Jack Stadium.
"I keep saying it over and over and I can't say it enough, but these kids are so resilient," said a happy, but exhausted LHU head coach John Allen. "It goes back to that senior group last year where we had a lot of guys who could have left this program when I came in, but they stayed with us. Not only did they give us great leadership last year, but they got us started. As for this group of seniors, they just kept working hard during the off-season. Because there was no quitting in them, they wouldn't let the rest of the guys quit. Even though we made mistakes throughout the course of the year, they just kept pushing, scratching and fighting to get us to where we are right now. That is the kind of group we have right now and I can't say enough about them."
The Bald Eagle defense contained Cheyney all afternoon, and with the 15-7 lead with 4:39 to go, it was once again up to them. The unit, led by Ryan Good and Janosch Beauchamp, that is exactly what happened as it held Cheyney to a three-and-out.
Cheyney punted to the LHU 46, and the Bald Eagles picked up a crucial first down on a sneak by quarterback Jarrett Kratzer. With no timeouts left and unable to stop the clock, all the Wolves could do was watch the Bald Eagles take a knee twice to run out the clock and preserve the win.
"No doubt about it, we made some mistakes and left some points on the field out there today," said Allen. "We made the kinds of mistakes that kill drives. But we were able to coach them up and they kept pushing it through and in the third and fourth quarters, all of those mistakes were corrected and you just saw the ball go down the field. That was good to see because after battling that kind of stuff all year, it was finally put together and they finally understood what it takes to win a football game."
The game was a defensive struggle all afternoon, starting with a safety. The Bald Eagles took the opening kickoff on their own 35 and drove down field to a first-and-goal at the Cheyney 2-yard line. However, the snap was mishandled and the Wolves recovered a fumble.
The vastly improved LHU defense rose to the occasion to force the Wolves into a punting situation, and when the center snap sailed out of the end zone, LHU took a 2-0 lead.
Taking over on their own 13 following a LHU punt, the Wolves drove to the LHU 39. But quarterback Blaze Wasserleben fumbled and Tyrail Morgan pounced on the bobble at the LHU 41.
Cheyney failed to move the ball on its next possession when Matt Kirchner caused and recovered a Marcus Jones fumble at the Wolves 37.
Six plays into the possession following the Kirchner recovery, the LHU drive stalled and Alex Boumerhi drilled a 37-yard field goal to move the LHU lead to 5-0, which stood at the half.
The defenses of both clubs took over in a scoreless third period, but the Bald Eagles captured good field position when Bernard Smack returned a Cheyney punt to the Wolves 21-yard line.
Thirty-seven seconds into the fourth quarter the Bald Eagles scored their only touchdown of when Beau Swales bulled in from the two yards out. Noah Heimer's PAT was good and the LHU lead had swollen to 12-0.
Not to run away and hide, the pesky Wolves took the ensuing kickoff on their own 30 and promptly put together an 11-play drive that covered 70 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Wilkinson's PAT made it LHU 12, Cheyney 7, with almost 10 minutes to play.
But the resilient Bald Eagles shook off the Cheyney score to march 46 yards on nine plays, the drive culminated by a 23-yard field goal by former Central Mountain kicker Noah Heimer.
On the drive for the field goal, another costly mistake was made by the Bald Eagles when they were called for holding just as it had appeared that running back Brandon Brader had sprinted into the end zone for a 26-yard TD for what could have been the clincher.
However, not to be denied, Brader promptly ripped off a 21-yard gain on the very next play to set up Heimer's field goal.
"They weren't going to be denied," said Allen about his players bouncing back from the mistakes. "Brader's touchdown called back really hurt, but he came right back with a big run to get us into the red zone. They know we (the coaches) have that confidence in them and that is the way they played. We tried to take it right to Cheyney and in the end, that is what we wound up doing. I am proud of them and just glad they were able to battle through it."
Kirchner and Good led LHU?with 7 tackles apiece, while Skyler Wool had 6 with a quarterback sack. Ben Snyder had 5 tackles, including 3 for a loss and a sack.