Green Dragons suffer 1st loss
LEWISBURG — Lewisburg coach Marc Persing went over the basic tenets of Mount Carmel’s offense with his team this week. He knows it well. He coached in it for two years.
He called the Red Tornadoes’ run-based offense “a nightmare” to prepare for. But going into Friday night’s game at Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium at Bucknell University, he felt like his defense had a firm grasp on what to expect.
It didn’t matter as Mount Carmel ran for 378 yards as it controlled the game from the opening snap to hand Lewisburg its first loss, 40-20. Lewisburg was dealt a major blow during the game as all-state receiver Dylan Farronato was lost for the season with a left knee injury. Persing said the best case scenario is Farronato tore the medial collateral ligament and would then be out four to six weeks. But regardless, Farronato would miss the rest of the season.
Green Dragons quarterback Nick Shedleski was hobbled the entire game after having his ankle rolled up on during the first half of last week’s win over Central Mountain. Shedleski completed just 3 of 9 passes last night for 30 yards. Backup Ethan Spaulding completed 2 of 4 passes and also ran for a pair of touchdowns.
With Mount Carmel scoring early and controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball last night, Lewisburg just didn’t have the ammo to spur a comeback. Sophomore running back Max Moyers did run for 151 yards and a touchdown, but that made up better than 60 percent of Lewisburg’s offense.
“We’re going to be fine. We’re not pushing the panic button and we’re not hitting reset,” Persing said. “We have to find a way to replace Dylan, and it may not be one guy. It may be by committee. Or, who knows, maybe Max gets the ball 30 times a game.”
Mount Carmel’s tightly-bunched run game gouged Lewisburg’s defense at times, but especially early. The first carry of the game for Shane Weidner (eight carries, 121 yards) was a 24-yard jaunt. He also had a 14-yard carry to set up John Ayres’ (18 carries, 130 yards) 7-yard touchdown run.
Two drives later Ayres had a 15-yard run which set up Weidner for a 23-yard touchdown run which came on a similar counter play to the one he hit on the first play of the game. Mount Carmel’s first scoring drive covered 59 yards in just five plays. Its second one needed just five plays to go 82 yards.
“That’s kind of what we do. It’s our brand of football,” Mount Carmel coach John Darrah said. “I think we’ve played some really good competition and some good defenses out of the gate. We knew we were a good offensive football team and it’s great to be able to show it.”
“They’re a nightmare to prepare for. There’s no other way to describe it,” Persing said. “The have seven bodies coming at you at once. If you paid attention to how Johnny Ayres was running at times, he was just tip-toeing behind the line. He wasn’t moving. He was just tip-toeing. He was waiting for bodies to blear and he accelerated through the hole.”
Lewisburg cleaned up some of the mistakes in the second and third quarters to slow down Mount Carmel’s running game a little bit. Persing said the line was caught looking in the backfield early instead of reading the offensive line to help find the ball. It led to some chunk plays by the Red Tornardoes, who ran for a season-high 378 yards at better than eight yards a clip.
“We knew it was coming,” Persing said. “The hard part about it is when you get wandering eyes and you look in the backfield instead of watching the blocking scheme. The next thing you know your eyes take you one way and the blocking scheme takes you another and the next thing you know, you’re trapped. But that’s why (Mount Carmel) is good.”
Lewisburg got within 14-7 late in the second quarter when Spaulding capped an eight-play, 59-yard drive with a sneak from 1-yard out. But Mount Carmel put together a crucial scoring drive to end the half.
Quarterback Tom Reisinger completed just two passes in the first half, but the second one was finding tight end Jack Chapman wide open on a crossing route. Chapman made a great run after the catch to beat a defender to the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown reception with only 33 seconds left in the half.
Reisinger found Chapman on the same pattern again in the second half to set up a touchdown pass to Ayres.
“We saw it a little earlier and we ended up getting sacked on it,” Darrah said. “We knew it was there and we went back to it and it ended up being there. He made a great run after the catch.”
Lewisburg rode its offensive line and Moyers to keep the game within reach. The 151 rushing yards by Moyers, a sophomore, were more than Southern Columbia ran for as a team against Mount Carmel a week ago.
“We chunked them at times,” Persing said. “There are some positives from this game, and some negatives with the injuries. But it’s nothing we haven’t dealt with before.”