MYERSTOWN>> Elco running back Tyler Horst believes it could get the Raiders rolling. Horst's coach, Bob Miller, said Friday night had been four weeks in the making. And Miller's counterpart, Pequea Valley headman Mike Choi, thinks it could be the catalyst of things to come.
Whatever your label, Elco's first win of 2015 won't soon be forgotten.
Despite trailing 7-6 after three quarters, the Raiders ran away from the Braves, 28-14, to earn a win in their section opener on homecoming weekend. Elco (1-3, 1-0 Section Three) captured its first win behind more than 100 second-half rushing yards from Horst, who scored two touchdowns. The bruising 225-pound junior credited his line and halftime coaching adjustments for the team's comeback.
"Coach figured out what was going wrong and we adjusted," Horst said. "Once the line got to knowing what they were doing and where they were going, everything clicked."
No play clicked more for the Raiders than their very first of the fourth quarter, when senior tight end Dylan Stoops scored on a 70-yard reception that followed a terrific pump-fake by quarterback Jeff Martin (10-15, 208 yards, 1 TD). Stoops' touchdown handed the Raiders a lead they would never relinquish, as a Luis Rolon interception on the ensuing Pequea Valley drive then set up Horst's first touchdown at 8:58 remaining. The junior needed only three handoffs to find the end zone following Rolon's theft at the Braves' 34-yardline.
Despite answering with a score of their own a minute and a half later, the Braves (2-2, 0-1) watched their two-game winning streak come to an end, unable to stop Horst and co.
"We missed our assignments," Pequea Valley coach Mike Choi said. "And we've been playing smaller backs to this point, so (Horst) is a different type of ballcarrier than we've seen. We tried to tackle him high. We actually hit him at the line of scrimmage ... but that kid just powered through it and moved the pile."
The Braves held Elco to only 16 offensive plays over the first half, but the blue and gold needed only one to match Chad Mullen's 69-yard touchdown reception at 1:50 left prior to intermission. Amid a 2-minute drill, Raiders receiver Andrew Olson reeled in a short pass near the boundary before dodging one defender and then speeding away from all of them for six points.
Olson's 67-yard catch-and-run not only put Elco on the board, but his coach momentarily on edge.
"I actually was mad because I told him to get out of bounds since we had some timeouts and a minute left," Raiders coach Bob Miller said. "And then he made a move, took it left and I saw him go and said 'good job.'"
While generating big plays such as Olson's and Stoops' go a long way to winning, Miller shared the difference between Friday and Elco's previous three games was in denying its opponent the chance to do just that. The Raiders largely held Pequea Valley's rushing attack in check and coughed up only one turnover, which directly served up Mullen's first-half score.
"We made fewer mistakes tonight, especially in the second half," Miller said. "We were making some of those mistakes in that first half, but we finished the game smart and strong without those mistakes. Our kids' effort is undeniable every play."
Almost as undeniable as the black and white of a final score, which for the first time Friday told the story of a Raiders victory. And if they have their way, it will also be the first of many more to come.
Elco 28, Pequea Valley 14
PV — Mullen 69-yard pass from Lapp. (Doutrich kick)
E — Olson 67-yard pass from Martin. (Kick fails)
E — Stoops 70-yard pass from Martin. (Martin pass)
E — Horst 5-yard run. (Hackman kick)
PV — Fisher 1-yard run (Doutrich kick)
E — Horst 1-yard run. (Hackman kick)
PVEFirst downs1613Rushes-yards32-12929-158Passing16-27-110-15-1Passing yards232208Total yards361366Punts3-305-24.4Fumbles-lost1-01-1Penalties-yards7-647-52
Rushing — PV: Gabe Allgyer 13-53, Jordan Lapp 11-47, Jason Stoltzfus 3-17, Austin Fisher 5-12. E: Tyler Horst 18-142, Jeff Martin 4-15, Travis Zimmerman 3-8, James Bidelspach 2-(-2), Andrew Olson 1-(-5).
Passing — PV: Jordan Lapp 16-27-232-1. E: Jeff Martin 10-15-208-0.
Receiving — PV: Chad Mullen 5-132, Stoltzfus 3-47, Brandon Hooper, 3-33, Fisher 3-26, Allgyer 2-0. E: Dylan Stoops 3-85, Olson 4-82, Luis Rolon 1-29, Ryan Rolon 1-8, Zimmerman 1-5.