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Lyco drops season finale in college football

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Dezmen Johnson gave a cursory chase, but he wasn’t going to break through a Stevenson convoy C.W. McCall would have been proud of. The Mustangs were about to score a defensive touchdown and, to his credit, the Lycoming receiver tried to get in the way, but it was no use.

As Stevenson’s Izaiha Pitts reached the 10-yard line, the senior turned and handed the ball to classmate Isaac Boyd to finish off the fumble return for a touchdown. The Mustangs’ celebration began in that moment Saturday because the last bastion of hope for Lycoming died when quarterback Elijah Shemory dropped a third-quarter shotgun snap and couldn’t get it back.

Boyd’s and Pitts’ combined 88-yard fumble return pushed the Mustangs’ lead to three scores and pushed them toward an eventual 31-0 win over Lycoming on the final day of the season. The Warriors finished the year 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. The losing season is the fifth in a row for Lycoming, a first since posting five consecutive losing seasons from 1970 to 1974. Lycoming was also shutout for the first time since losing to Delaware Valley, 36-0, on Oct. 23, 2010.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak which had snatched Lycoming’s season from dismal depths and presented it with an opportunity to close the season at .500 for the first time since 2014. But it was not to be as Lycoming scored zero points on three trips to the red zone, including the fateful fumble and return with 16 minutes left in the game.

“I don’t like the result, but we gave ourselves a chance and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Lycoming coach Mike Clark said. “We certainly had enough opportunities.”

“I thought we looked great the first three quarters, but we’d get down (to the red zone) and shoot ourselves in the foot,” said receiver Steve Toczylousky, who finished with five catches for 112 yards. “We made a lot of mistakes.”

The Warriors accomplished the process they knew it was going to take to beat a team whose only two losses were to nationally-ranked teams. They possessed the ball in the first half running 41 plays to Stevenson’s 21. They held the ball for nearly 12 more minutes than the Middle Atlantic Conference’s best offense through the first three quarters. It converted more than 50% of its third downs. And it had multiple opportunities inside the Mustang’s 10-yard line to take a lead, tie the game, or cut a deficit in half.

But the process resulted in zero points. A 20-play drive which covered 86 yards and took nearly 12 minutes off the clock in the first half earned no points when Jamie Fisher’s 30-yard field goal went wide left. His first attempt at a field goal on that play was good, but the Warriors were called for a delay of game, and Fisher missed the re-kick.

When he lined up again in the third quarter, this time from 27 yards, the kick again was pulled left. Fisher, who will graduate as the Warriors’ all-time leader in field goals, missed four of his final five attempts this season after making seven of his first eight.

“Say what you want numerically about those drives, but any drive that doesn’t end in points can’t be considered a good drive,” Clark said. “A 20-play drive means you don’t have explosive plays. It means you’re seeing third down. It means you’re not being super efficient.”

What made each pointless drive hurt even more is Stevenson responded to each with a touchdown drive, or in the case of the final red-zone trip, the fumble return for touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Sedgwick, who entered sixth in the country in completion percentage, completed just 10 of 22 passes yesterday.

But he did find Chaz Lyles for a 40-yard touchdown pass after Fisher’s first missed field goal. And his 50-yard strike to Lyles after the second missed field goal set up Kevin Joppy’s 7-yard touchdown run.

“Our coaches gamplanned really well and we executed pretty well,” said linebacker Jase Wright. “But we let a couple big plays up and we can’t do that against a really good team. The first half we played really well. But you have to play a whole game.”

After Joppy’s touchdown, Lycoming put itself in the red zone. A defensive pass interference call and a 15-yard run from Shemory put the Warriors inside the 10. But on second-and-goal from the 10, Clark called for a quarterback keeper and had the numbers he wanted against the Stevenson defense. But Shemory dropped the shin-high snap and it bounded away from him as he reached for the ball.

When Pitts picked up the ball, he had open running room all the way back to Williamsport if he wanted it. And as he got farther away, so did Lycoming’s chance to move to 5-5.

“To hold them to seven in the first half, essentially seven more in the third quarter, you have to find a way to put points on the board,” Clark said. “And I have to call better plays on the drives we tried field goals. But we’ve got to put the ball in the end zone somehow.”

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