LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Click here for more photos from this story

MYERSTOWN>> A key stop on fourth down. A clutch interception that thwarted a promising enemy drive. A resilient stand with time winding down and the outcome hanging in the balance.

The Lebanon High football team has not often won with defense in the decade that it has featured the high-flying Air Raid offense, but it sure did on Friday night.

Down 19-7 late in the third quarter to fellow winless squad Elco, the Cedars appeared to be well on their way to an 0-3 start, only to rise up with a fourth down stop deep in their territory that set the stage for a thrilling 20-19 comeback victory at Elco High School.

Buoyed by stuffing Elco's junior stud Tyler Horst for no gain at the Lebanon 31 with 4:20 left in the third, the Cedars put together a scoring drive on the ensuing possession that culminated with a two-yard TD plunge by quarterback Cody Kissinger with 1:21 left in the third, then went ahead to stay on Danny Caricabeur's 67-yard punt return for a score 15 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Along the way there was also a Luke Fureman interception that snuffed out a promising Elco march and a backs-to-the-wall defensive stand after a costly-looking turnover gave Elco the ball deep in Lebanon territory in the final minutes.

How about that Cedar defense? Well, yes, strange as that might sound.

"We could not stop them in the first half," said Lebanon coach Gerry Yonchiuk, whose troops surrendered 122 of Horst's 177 yards and two TDs in the first half. "They just pounded us, wore us down, wore us down. But we rotated eight defensive linemen and then I think they got tired. And with us playing fast on offense, that's where the tempo helped us tonight. When we needed to step up we did, and had some huge plays by a number of individuals. If I start mentioning names I'll miss someone."

"It's huge, we got more momentum heading into league play. It's what we needed," said one of those defensive heroes, senior defensive back Fureman. "Once the momentum is going and the defense is feeling it, that's what it is. You start reading things better and get a feel for the game."

Outside of the opening drive, which featured a six-yard scoring pass from Kissinger to Jan Suarez Torres just 2:55 into the game, Lebanon appeared to have little feel for the game in the first half.

With Horst scoring on runs of 33 and 10 yards, Elco amassed 155 yards on the ground before intermission and took a 13-7 lead that looked much larger into the half.

It looked downright insurmountable after Elco QB Jeff Martin hit Dylan Stoops with a 30-yard scoring strike with 8:12 left in the third for a 19-7 edge.

Then, following a failed Lebanon drive on the ensuing possession, Elco appeared to be on the verge of scoring again when the Cedar 'D' drew a figurative line in the grass with its game-changing stop of Horst on fourth down at the Lebanon 31.

"That's the ballgame," Yonchiuk said of the fourth down stop. "That's the ballgame right there. Down 19-7, to come back and win it, we're just so happy to get a win, so happy for our players and coaching staff."

On the flip side were the Raiders, who saw their best effort of the season go for naught thanks to Lebanon's defensive heroics and Caricabeur's electric go-ahead punt return.

"It's pretty disappointing," said Elco coach Bob Miller, whose squad was also hurt by two missed field goals and an errant extra point. "The kids are putting forth a great effort, but we need to learn to finish and we can't have breakdowns that cost ourselves. It's pretty disappointing to see that, because the kids are really buying into what we're doing. The wins will come."

For the Cedars, though, the wait for a win is over, with the defense the unlikely heroes to the cause.

"When you find ways to lose, you need to find ways to win," Yonchiuk said. "Winning gets contagious, as losing does. To win it like that, with our guys not panicking... That's just what we did."

Lebanon 20, Elco 19

Lebanon7076—20Elco7660—19

First Quarter

L— Suarez-Torres 6 pass from Kissinger (Cortes Cruz kick)

E— Horst 33 run (Hackman kick)

Second Quarter

E — Horst 10 run (kick failed)

Third Quarter

E — Stoops 30 pass from Martin (pass failed)

L — Kissinger 2 run (Cortes Cruz kick)

Fourth Quarter

L — Caricabeur 67 punt return (pass failed)

LEFirst downs1219Rushes-yards20-3241-231Passing18-30-07-16-1Passing yards22097Total yards252328Punts3-30.73-33.4Fumbles-lost1-11-0Penalties-yards2-102-15
Individual statistics

Rushing — L: Hunter 13-44, Kissinger 7- (-12). E: Horst 27-177, Zimmerman 5-30, Martin 6-13, Knight 3-11,

Passing — L: Kissinger 18-30-0-220, E: Martin 7-16-1-97

Receiving — L: Suarez-Torres 4-53, Maldonado-Hernandez 3-94, Beckley 3-51, Hunter 3-7, Maldonado 3-2, Ortiz 2-13 E: Stoops 2-44, Zimmerman 2-26, Olson 2-16, Beamer 1-11.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.gametimepa.com/story/high-school/lancaster-lebanon/sports/2015/09/18/defense-lifts-lebanon-over-elco-20-19/75267396/