Solanco advances to district semis
The Golden Mules defeated Lampeter-Strasburg 54-20 to advance to the District 3 Class AAA semifinals. John Buffone
QUARRYVILLE — For Lampeter-Strasburg, it was a fourth quarter that wouldn’t end. For Solanco, it’s a season that neither players, coaches, nor fans
would ever want to end.
Rolling out six second-half touchdowns as part of a 500-yard rushing attack, the No. 4 Golden Mules cruised past the No. 5 Pioneers 54-20 Friday night at Solanco High School in the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals that was also a rematch of Section Two rivals.
The outcome was all too familiar for Solanco (11-1) after a 42-14 victory over L-S (9-3) in Week Four. But a Week Ten loss to Manheim Central left Solanco, Manheim, and Lampeter-Strasburg tied for the Section Two title with identical 6-1 league records.
“Especially against such a dynamic offense that L-S has, our kids did a great job of the little things,” said head coach Tony Cox. “Our loss against Manheim I thought was a positive loss because our kids really focused on the details.”
That attention to detail earns the Mules a semifinal matchup next week versus top-seed and perennial District 3 Class AAA champions Bishop McDevitt (11-1), this for a Solanco program that had been winless in the postseason entering this year.
“It’s an awesome feeling, for this community and to give this town something to really thrive on,” began head coach Tony Cox, shivering in his shorts after a player-induced postgame ice-bath, “hopefully everybody will come out when we go to Bishop McDevitt and support us like they did tonight.”
Throughout the night, the support came from a slew of senior players, including quarterback Noah McCardell who rushed for a game-high 217 yards on just 16 carries.
After L-S (9-3) trimmed the deficit to 28-14 on a 41-yard touchdown on a fourth-down pass from Collin Shank to J.B. Boynton with 10:52 remaining, Solanco nearly went three-and-out.
But a roughing the punter penalty extended the drive for the Mules, as McCardell, the punter on the previous play, called his own number and raced 57-yards to pay-dirt.
“It was extremely important,” McCardell said. “If we wouldn’t have gotten that (roughing call), the defense would have had to step up one more time. My big run, that’s all the (offensive) line. They did an amazing job.”
Meanwhile, the aforementioned defense sacked Shank five times on the night and hurried him into an unprecedented four interceptions. Zeb Eshelman came up with two of those sacks on linebacker blitzes, also hitting Shank’s arm on a floating interception by Reese Motter, his first of two fourth quarter interceptions, following McCardell’s big run.
“He’s a great quarterback, he’s been doing it for years and he has all the records,” Cox said of Shank. “He’s a great player and we just had to put the pressure on him. We did, and he hurried some passes, he threw a couple interceptions, we got some sacks, and the defense did a great job tonight.”
Solanco put the game away on McCardell’s 12-yard pass to Prosper Eguzouwa. Another Shank to Boynton touchdown was answered by Robbie Hassel’s 51-yard touchdown immediately following a failed onside-kick.
While Shank (23-for-37, 2 TDs, rushing TD), threw for 274 yards, Solanco’s triple-option churned out 498 yards on 52 carries. Hassel ran for 156 yards and Darren Whearry totaled 86 yards, including a pair of third-quarter touchdowns.
L-S scored in six plays on their opening drive, aided by a quartet of quick passes to Boynton (6-85) and Caleb Lopez (7-72) to set up Shank’s 1-yard keeper. But after a hard hit by Mike Figueroa on a Lopez, Solanco responded with two scores in the second quarter on Hassel’s 48-yard burst and McCardell’s 10-yarder for a 14-7 halftime lead.
“Big hits and big runs, it really changes the momentum. It’s crucial,” McCardell said, both he and his coach attributing the second-half dominance to the team’s off-season conditioning.
“I don’t think I’ve comprehended it yet,” McCardell said of the season. “We’ve crushed Solanco football history, so to move on is truly a blessing and it’s a tribute to our hard work.”
SOLANCO 54, LAMPETER-STRASBURG 20
|Q1| |Q2| |Q3| |Q4| --- FINAL
LS 07 00 00 13 --- 20
SOL 00 14 14 26 --- 54
LS - 9:06 C. Shank 1-yd run (P. Denlinger kick) 7-0
SOL - 9:59 D. Hassel 48-yd run (kick failed) 7-6
SOL - 3:33 N. McCardell 10-yd run (T. Miller pass from N. McCardell) 7-14
SOL - 8:14 D. Whearry 17-yd run (C. Bleacher kick) 7-21
SOL - 0:38 D. Whearry 4-yd run (C. Bleacher kick) 7-28
Q4 - LS - 10:52 J. Boynton 41-yd pass from C. Shank (P. Denlinger kick) 14-28
Q4 - SOL - 9:01 N. McCardell 57-yd run (C. Bleacher kick) 14-35
Q4 - SOL - 6:01 P. Eguzouwa 12-yd pass from N. McCardell (kick failed) 14-41
Q4 - LS - 3:11 J. Boynton 8-yd pass from C. Shank (kick failed) 20-41
Q4 - SOL - 2:59 D. Hassel 51-yd run (C. Bleacher kick) 20-48
Q4 - SOL - 1:01 J. Weder 24-yd run (pass failed) 20-54
FIRST DOWNS 18 20
RUSHES / YARDS 16-54 52-498
PASSING YARDS 274 14
TOTAL YARDS 290 512
COMP / ATT / INT 23-37-4 2-5-0
SACKED / YDS LOST 5-38 0-0
FUMBLES / LOST 0-0 1-1
PUNTS / AVG 3-30 3-23.7
PENALTIES / YARDS 5-35 8-64
PASSING: LS - C. Shank 23-37-4-274
SOL - N. McCardell 2-4-0-14, A. Billings 0-0-0-0
RECEIVING: LS - J. Boynton 6-85, C. Lopez 7-74, C. Gaudino 4-45, A. Hay 3-35, G. Grau 3-35
SOL - T. Miller 1-2, P. Eguzouwa 1-12
RUSHING: LS - C. Shank 7-17, J. Boynton 2-5, G. Groshong 2-9, S. Lawler 1-2, C. Gaudino 1-1, D. Reidenbaugh 1-12,
C. Niemeyer 2-8
SOL - N. McCardell 16-217, D. Hassel 16-156, D. Whearry 13-86, J. Weder 2-25, P. Eguzouwa 3-8, A. Billings 2-6