Lancers rebound from opening loss
COAL TOWNSHIP – Coming off a tough 43-41 loss to Mount Carmel last week, Loyalsock needed a confidence booster against Shamokin.
The Lancers got what they needed.
An extremely impressive defensive effort allowed just 38 yards from the Indians in the first half combined and an equally dominant showing from junior quarterback Connor Watkins lead Loyalsock to a 27-7 win Friday in Coal Township.
The final score fails to tell the story of Shamokin’s hard-nosed defensive showing that held Loyalsock to 13 points in the first half, forced several turnovers and scored the only Indians’ points on an end zone fumble recovery by senior lineman Trent Curcie.
That cut Loyalsock’s lead to 13-7 before Watkins’ passing attack and halfback Cole Cavanaugh’s running game overwhelmed the Indians.
Shamokin head coach Jim Lichty kept his comments short, saying, “Our defense played good enough to keep us in this game — our offense played horrible.”
After a Shamokin three-and-out Watkins drove the offense 69 yards downfield, ending with a two-yard punch in from fullback Eric Holz bringing the margin to 13-0.
The Indians’ defense then found its groove and prevented Loyalsock from scoring until the fourth quarter, when Watkins scored his second TD on a 10-yard keeper before throwing a 19-yard pass to Brock Hepler to bring the score to 27-7.
Lancer head coach Justin Van Fleet was well aware that both his offense and defense had hiccups, but said he was overall pleased with how they played.
“This team has come so far,” he said. “They went 0-10 as a freshman team and look at where they are today. We had a tough loss last week and they came out today ready to play.”
Van Fleet, referring to Watkins as his “trigger man,” said he once again showed experience beyond his age while juggling the numerous responsibilities that come with the team’s college-style offensive scheme.
“It wasn’t a perfect game but our defense really did play great. I couldn’t ask much more from them,” he said. “Offensively I think we showed how explosive we can be, but we need to limit the mistakes for when we’re facing championship-caliber teams.”
Van Fleet dedicated the win to Kyle Dirk, a player on the team who recently broke his wrist.
“It’s an unfortunate situation but we wanted to come him with the win for him tonight and that’s what he did,” the Lancer head coach said.