QUARRYVILLE - In a game that kicked-off three hours ahead of schedule due to the continued threat of Mother Nature, the Solanco Golden Mules continued to be a threat in Section Two with a 48-6 thumping of Lancaster Catholic Friday afternoon at Solanco High School.
A pair of fumbles stunted each of the Mules' first two drives, including a nine-play 49-yard drive ending with a loss of 23 yards when quarterback Noah McCardell's pitch went behind slot-back Prosper Eguzouwa.
But an ensuing Crusaders three-and-out gave Solanco (2-0 L-L, 5-0 overall) good starting field position, and four plays later Eguzouwa (5 rushes, 47 yards) raced around the left side for a 19-yard burst to commence the scoring with 8:31 to go in the half.
"It was tough to start," said McCardell, who would total three rushing touchdowns by game's end. "I personally had a bad start and my team picked me up. My defense did an amazing job throughout the game."
For Lancaster Catholic (1-1, 2-3), dual-threat quarterback Bryan Downey entered the game with nearly 600 rushing yards already this season. But the Solanco defense held Downey to just 66 yards on 27 rushes.
"He is their team," said Solanco's head coach Tony Cox. "They have big guys in front. We noticed last two games he's really been successful running the ball at the quarterback position, so we really had to focus on him."
Following the Mules' opening score, Downey fumbled on the Crusaders' next play - one of Catholic's six fumbles on the game. Solanco fullback Robbie Hassel (12 rushes, 45 yards) took advantage with a 12-yard scamper to extend the lead to 12-0.
McCardell (9 carries for 86 yards, discounting his first quarter fumble) would add a 32-yard touchdown at the 2:55 mark, Gary Doubts tallying the 2-point conversion to give Solanco a 20-0 lead at the half.
Another Downey fumble to open the second half eventually led to McCardell's second scoring run, this one from 5-yards out.
The Crusaders eventual would respond by opening-up their passing offense, Downey finishing 9-of-16 for 106 yards. But the next drive by Catholic ended with a punt, Troy Miller tiptoeing the sideline for a 76-yard score.
Leading 35-0, Solanco seemed content to run down the clock with Hassel, Eguzouwa, and Darren Whearry (10-61). But on a 2nd-and-14 play from the Catholic 41-yard line, McCardell executed a pretty play fake before hitting Miller on a wide-open post-route for a 41-0 lead.
"Troy, he's an athlete and it makes it ten times easier for him - and for me to have an athlete like him," McCardell said. "The guys up front and the running backs, everyone did an amazing job blocking."
While all of McCardell's completions (3-of-6, 73 yards) would go to Miller, the Mules' quarterback would cap his team's scoring with a tough 27-yard run around the right side, spinning past the final defender for a 48-0 lead with 4:45 to play.
"I wanted to get my twos in but all my twos are on the sidelines freezing, I was afraid to put them in there," Cox said of McCardell's final touchdown. "I was trying to kill the clock (but) him just being who he is he just kept running."
Much the way the Mules' ground game has done all season long, "rain or shine" according to Cox. "We just came out to play Friday night, wet and cold but as long as it wasn't lightning, we're going to play. That's just how we are."
Downey would get the Crusaders into the endzone with 1:33 left, his 21-yard pass to a wide-open Andrew Bertz doing the deed. But in the end it was the Mules getting their second consecutive home-field victory to open up their quest for a Section Two title.
"Our defense really did an amazing job," McCardell said. "They prove it every week and our offense, they complement the defense. We have amazing blockers and great guys running the ball so it works together."
FIRST DOWNS 11 12
RUSHES / YARDS 36-74 41-244
PASSING YARDS 106 73
TOTAL YARDS 163 317
COMP / ATT / INT 9-15-0 3-6-0
SACKED / YDS LOST 2-17 0-0
FUMBLES / LOST 6-2 2-0
PUNTS / AVG 6-27.5 2-32.5
PENALTIES / YARDS 1-10 4-20
SCORE BY QUARTER:
|Q1| |Q2| |Q3| |Q4| --- FINAL
LC 00 00 0 06 --- 06
SOL 00 20 15 13 --- 48
Q2 - SOL - 8:21 P. Eguzouwa 19-yd run (kick failed) 0-6
Q2 - SOL - 7:24 D. Hassel 12-yd run (run failed) 0-12
Q2 - SOL - 2:55 N. McCardell 32-yd run (G. Doubts run) 0-20
Q3 - SOL - 9:34 N. McCardell 5-yd run (D. Whearry run) 0-28
Q3 - SOL - 6:33 T. Miller 76-yd return (C. Bleacher kick) 0-35
Q4 - SOL - 9:28 T. Miller 44-yd pass from N. McCardell (kick failed) 0-41
Q4 - SOL - 4:45 N. McCardell 27-yd run (C. Bleacher kick) 0-48
Q4 - LC - 1:33 A. Bertz 21-yd pass from B. Downey (pass failed) 6-48
PASSING: LC - B. Downey 9-15-0-106
SOL - N. McCardell 3-6-0-73
RECEIVING: LC - J. Scott 4-42, R. Poillon 2-16, A. Bertz 1-21, K. Harnish 1-17, Z. Sailsman 1-10
SOL - T. Miller 3-73
RUSHING: LC - B. Downey 27-66, K. Harnish 5-5, Q. Clark 3-15, N. Lawrence 1-(-12)
SOL - N. McCardell 10-63, D. Whearry 10-61, P. Eguzouwa 5-47, D. Hassel 12-45, J. Weder 2-29, A. Billings 1-(-1)