LEBANON >> Mother Nature apparently thought Cedar Bowl 44 needed just a little bit more build-up.
A drenching thunder and lightning storm delayed the start of the annual crosstown gridiron clash between Lebanon and Cedar Crest by an hour on Friday night, emptying Earl Boltz Stadium well before the scheduled 7 p.m. start time in unexpected and unwelcome fashion.
But when the skies finally cleared and the stadium re-filled, the host Falcons and their fans found the wait to have been well worth it.
Cedar Crest rolled to its fourth straight Cedar Bowl triumph Friday, using Justice Belleman's power running and mistakes galore from Lebanon to jump out to a 19-0 first quarter lead en route to a thorough 41-7 mercy-rule drubbing of the Cedars in front of an appreciative home crowd.
Jake Kalbach added a 65-yard fumble return for a score in the first as Lebanon turned it over on consecutive possessions late in the quarter to send the Falcons on their way to their 28th win in the storied rivalry game.
"Our coaches put together a great game plan and they executed it," said Cedar Crest coach Rob Wildasin said of his squad's big night. "And they executed it pretty darn well. And that's what it's going to take to get where we want to go. That's what I was happiest with tonight.
"The coaching game plan was establishing the run, throw off the run. We were able to control the line."
Belleman, a junior, rumbled for 52 of Crest's 53 yards on the opening Falcon possession, setting the tone for a punishing performance by the home team on both sides of the ball. He finished with a superb 106 yards on 14 carries.
"It means a lot," Belleman said. "I worked hard for it, but we have a long way to go."
Quarterback Stevie Roda capped Crest's dominant first half with a three-yard TD burst with 2:18 left in the half that made the outcome all but academic.
Roda added a 20-yard TD dart to Iziah Trimble late in the third, which was preceded by Kobe Bolanos taking the second half kickoff 85 yards to paydirt in electrifying fashion.
The only saving grace for Lebanon came when Christopher Camacho rumbled 33 yards for the score with 9:09 to go in the fourth to avert the shutout.
"I don't want to say shocked, I don't know what word I'm looking for," was Lebanon coach Gerry Yonchiuk's reaction to the rout. "But it just didn't make sense to me because our approach was correct and our kids were dead-on.
"I can't do anything back about this, but (it's) just so disappointing because I know we have a heck of a lot better football team here than we showed tonight."
Cedar Crest 41, Lebanon 7
CC — Belleman 5 run (kick failed)
CC — Kalbach 65 fumble recovery (kick failed)
CC — Belleman 21 run (Sharifi kick)
CC — Roda 3 run (Sharifi kick)
CC — Bolanos 85 kickoff return (Trimble run
CC— Trimble 20 pass from Roda (kick good)
L — Camacho 33 run (kick good)
LCCFirst downs1316Rushes-yards23-8035-179Passing15-32-02-4-0Passing yards21160Total yards291239Punts2-23.52-33.0Fumbles-lost4-22-1Penalties-yards0-05-55
Rushing — L: Hunter 11-73, Camacho 3-36, Kissinger 9- (-29). CC: Belleman 14-106, E. Horn 5-20, L. Horn 2-19, Munnion 3-13, Apple 4-12, Ramos 3-5, Mitchell 4-4.
Passing —L: Kissinger 13-26-0-182, Imm 2-6-0-27 CC: Roda 2-4-0-60.
Receiving —L: Suarez-Torres 4-62, Beckley 3-47, Ortiz 2-17, Maldonado-Hernandez 2-13, Hunter 1-41, Aquino-Rios 1-19, Caricabeur 1-2 CC: Ferreira 1-40, Trimble 1-20