LAMPETER - For two teams looking to balance out their seasons after difficult opening week losses, Friday night's battle between the Lampeter-Strasburg Pioneers and the Penn Manor Comets was about each team getting back on track.
Showing off a balanced, big-play offense as well as opportunistic defense and special teams, the host Pioneers walked away from Friday's week two skirmish with a 20-7 victory thanks in part to a simplification of things.
With tight end Darren Metz one of a host of two-way players relegated to one or the other versus Penn Manor (0-2), L-S was able to take the lead in the first quarter on Metz's 75-yard catch and score that helped set the ground work for the rest of the game.
"I got that first play, and I knew as soon as we called that tight end screen it was my time to shine," said Metz, whose twin-brother Kyle filled-in on the defensive side of the ball so that Darren could concentrate on offense.
From there, the Pioneers (1-1) committed to the run-game, which contributed to keeping the defense fresh for the second half.
"Our offensive line really stepped up, we had a new kid step up and he had a phenomenal game," Metz said. "(The offensive line) got challenged this week to open that run game a little more and we definitely did that. It's a little time off the clock and then hit them with our big plays, too, like L-S is known for."
Back-to-back drives in the second quarter brought the Pioneers into the red zone. But Penn Manor defensive back Marcos Nina intercepted quarterback Collin "Bear" Shank on a reverse-side screen, ending the drive.
The Pioneers would respond after the Comets ensuing 12-play drive ended in a punt, Shank hitting Garrett Groshong on an underneath curl route for a 13-0 lead.
"Tried a little trick play, a little throw back," Shank explained of the interception, "but (Penn Manor) stayed home and made a play. It was my fault, I was very mad at myself but we came back and scored that next drive. It was a great job."
"It didn't deflate us," said Penn Manor coach John Brubaker of the 13-point deficit. "We were still pretty positive at halftime and we knew we were going have the ball coming out second half and have a chance to move the ball down the field."
Penn Manor did have some success moving the ball throughout, particularly behind running back Carter Kinser (21 rushes, 123 yards), whom Brubaker called "a horse."
Brubaker was also happy with his defense playing more physically than in last week's loss. But a muffed punt gave L-S an easy scoring opportunity early in the fourth quarter, Shank (10-17, 212 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) finding Metz for a 28-yard scoring pass.
The fumbled punt was one of four turnovers for Penn Manor to just one for Lampeter-Strasburg.
"Obviously the mistakes hurt us," Brubaker said, "but I thought we went from being a little dysfunctional last week defensively to at least being more physical this week and having people in place and gang-tackling. Those things were a little bit absent last week."
While L-S was running down the clock with backs Shane Lawler (14-36), Chad Gaudino (6-30), and Shank (7-29), the well-rested Pioneer's defense was able to hold up their end of the bargain despite a 6-yard quarterback keeper by Comets' quarterback Grant Gale with under six minutes left to play, setup by Nina's 32-yard catch and run.
L-S coach John Manion singled out Josh Beiler (7 solo tackles) and defensive back Chase Pirozzi (two interceptions) for their strong performances, crediting the influx of younger players in the offensive line to allow two-way players like Pete Tollinger (1.5 sacks) to stay fresh on defense.
The end result was a Pioneers squad that seems to be back on track, no two ways about it.
"Both teams had a tough first game but one of us was coming out on top and we knew it had to be us," said Metz. "It definitely feels good to be 1-1, it's how we started the year last year and we had a couple nice wins in a row, so hopefully we can do the same thing this year."
FIRST DOWNS 13 13
RUSHES / YARDS 35-175 34-97
PASSING YARDS 56 212
TOTAL YARDS 215 302
COMP / ATT / INT 5-11-2 10-17-1
SACKED / YDS LOST 3-16 2-12
FUMBLES / LOST 3-2 1-0
PUNTS / AVG 3-37.3 4-35.3
PENALTIES / YARDS 0-0 2-15
|Q1| |Q2| |Q3| |Q4| --- FINAL
PM 0 0 0 07 --- 07
LS 7 6 0 07 --- 20
Q1 - LS - 2:51 D. Metz 75-yd pass from C. Shank (P. Denlinger kick) 0-7
Q2 - LS - 0:30 G. Groshong 4-yd pass from C. Shank (kick failed) 0-13
Q4 - LS - 10:56 D. Metz 28-yd pass from C. Shank (P. Denlinger kick) 0-20
Q4 - PM - 5:50 G. Gale 6-yd run (A. Laughlin kick) 7-20
PASSING: PM - G. Gale 5-11-2-56, J. Hiltz 0-0-0-0
LS - C. Shank 10-17-1-213
RECEIVING: PM - A. Santiago-Rodiquez 1-12, C. Kinser 1-7, C. Zechman 1--1, B. Wright 1-6, M. Nina 1-32
LS - D. Metz 2-103, C. Lopez 1-8, C. Gaudino 2-47, S. Lawler 2-23, G. Groshong 3-31
RUSHING: PM - C. Kinser 21-123, G. Gale 8-40, J. McCaskell 2-1, M. Nina 2-14, B. Wright 1-1, T. McElheny 1-(-4)
LS - S. Lawler 14-36, C. Gaudino 6-30, C. Shank 7-29, G. Groshong 3-6, D. Reidenbaugh 1-0