Watkins propels Sock in rout

JUDI PINKERTON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Loyalsock’s Aiden Gair, is wrapped up by Shikellamy’s Conell Fain (77) and Darell Lyles (10) as he attempts to gain more yardage on Friday night at Loyalsock.

At the end of the first quarter, Loyalsock led Shikellamy by seven in what looked to be another barn burner that would go down to the wire like these teams have done in the past. Well, Loyalsock turned that seven-point first quarter lead into a 35-0 rout of the Braves on Friday night at Kenneth M. Robbins Stadium.

Loyalsock avenged last year’s contest in which the Braves overcame an 11 point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Lancers, 32-26. Friday night’s game was a completely different story as the Lancers put together a complete game, from start to finish, on both sides of the ball. The Lancers have started out the season with a tough schedule, having to grind out a close win last week. Soundly beating a strong Shikellamy program could be a lift-off to their season.

“We played a much better football game in the beginning then we have played. We came out stronger, we plugged a number of the gaps that we have been having,” Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet said. “The kids came out and played ball. Shikellamy is a great program and any time you get a win against Shik, a team coached by Todd Tilford, you take it. I’m proud of these kids tonight.”

Loyalsock has started their first two games of the season down on the scoreboard, but Friday the offense was determined to score early and often. The duo of Connor Watkins and Gerald Ross was unstoppable. The only thing that could stop the Lancers on this night would be themselves, the Lancers had more penalty yards then yards given up at the half.

“Just keep going, there is nothing you can really do, the game will play out the way it will play out.” Watkins told his teammates. “Once we got momentum going early, guys got confidence and were ready to go.”

Watkins battled through the adversity of those penalties and a few first half drops, continuing to show what has made him the area passing leader. Watkins was able to connect with Ross for touchdowns of eight, 36 and 32 yards. He also found Jaiden Cioffi on a 32-yard bomb down the sideline to kick off a 21-0 second quarter. Watkins finished the game 14-18 with 285 yards and 4 touchdowns, also adding one on the ground. Ross finished the game with 11 catches for 212 yards (171 of them coming in the first half) and three scores.

“Connor any game can do what he did tonight, he is special, I wouldn’t trade him for anybody, at all, and therefore I expect him to make plays, expect him to make things happen, and expect that if he can get his feet set that he can rocket that ball off,” Van Fleet said. “Gerald is a heck of a wide receiver, when the ball is in the air. I expect him to come down with it.”

The outstanding play of the offense should not take anything away from the defense. Sock’s defensive unit played at a different level tonight and was able to keep Shikellamy’s offense at bay all night long. The unit gave up a season-low 91 yards of total offense, got to the quarterback several times, and was able to force a turnover. The braves could not stop the penetration of the Lancer’s defensive line, lead by division one commit Bam Brima, who was in the backfield all game, finishing with a sack and a fumble recovery.

“We were hungry and ready to go.” Watkins stated. “We started the past two weeks behind, big time, and we knew we had to come out and not get down before we started to wake up. We came out firing, and it just worked out well tonight.”