Two interception returns help Shamokin shock Lewisburg

SHAMOKIN — Sometimes a football team can get figuratively punched in the mouth early in the game. They then either bounce back and get back into the game, or the figurative punch is so severe, they can never quite recover.

Unfortunately for Lewisburg, it was the latter on Friday at Shamokin. The Green Dragons had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, which gave Shamokin a 13-0 lead before the Indians had an offensive possession, and Lewisburg was never able to recover as the Indians stunned the Green Dragons 27-7.

“We shot ourselves in the foot early. Two pick six’s and a fumble inside the 10 will cause anyone to lose a game,” said Lewisburg coach Marc Persing. “We also didn’t tackle well on defense. We prepared like we did for any other Friday, and I’m not sure if the kids are starting to feel a little overconfident but we’re going to bring them back down to earth on Monday.”

Lewisburg had what looked like promising drives on both of its first two possessions before Indians got the two pick six’s. They had picked up two first downs on their first drive before Brycen James picked off Nick Shedleski and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown on the seventh play of the drive. The next drive also ended with an interception return on the seventh play, this one by Joe Masser for 43 yards.

“From an energy standpoint, that was huge,” said Shamokin coach Henry Hynoski. “That set the stage for this game and then to come back on our second play on offense was huge.”

The Green Dragons did managed to briefly rebound after the second interception return as they put together a 14-play, 84-yard drive, which featured seven rushes by Max Moyers and ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Spaulding to Ethan Dominick to cut the Shamokin lead to 13-7.

But the Indians seized the momentum right back in just 22 seconds, as on their first official offensive play of the night following a defensive pass interference penalty, James bounced outside and got loose for a 55-yard touchdown run to put Shamokin up 20-7.

From that point, Lewisburg would only get close to the end zone once more, and that drive ended in a fumble. The Green Dragons’ next drive went three-and-out, and Shamokin took over at its own 40 early in the second quarter. From there, the Indians put together their own long drive, this one going 15 plays and nearly six minutes, capped by James’ second touchdown of the game to go up 27-7.