FOOTBALL: Northern Lebanon clinches share of section title
MOUNT JOY >>Donegal was less than 10 minutes from forging a first-place tie in Section Three.
Then Northern Lebanon scored 20 unanswered points, claiming a 34-22 L-L Section Three win and a share of a second straight title on Senior Night in Mount Joy. It's the first time the Vikings have won back-to-back championships.
"An (eight-)point lead our offense can usually ice the game," Indians head coach Jeff Polites said. "Only thing you can't have is turnovers, just couldn't put the game away."
Luke Funck started the turnaround with a 5-yard touchdown run with 9:11 remaining. That cut the Viking deficit to 22-20 and Northern Lebanon took the lead for good six minutes later when Isaac Wengert broke up the middle on a quarterback keeper, veered right, and scored from the 24.
Up 26-22 with 3:58 left, the Viking defense forced a fumble on a hit by Matt Vines and recovery from Funck. With the ball at the 10, Wengert headed up the middle from the 10 to make it 32-22. Two-way lineman Dustin Motter plowed in for the 2-point conversion to close the scoring at 34-22.
The win improves the Vikings to 5-0 in the section and 7-2 overall. It also keeps Northern Lebanon in the district Class AAA playoff hunt. NL was 17th in a 16-team field going into Friday night.
Donegal (3-2 L-L, 5-4 overall), closes it season next week at Ephrata.
"We know it's our last time together," Polites said. "We'll do everything we can to send the seniors out with a win."
Donegal played without leading rusher Austin Dimeler, out with a collarbone injury.
Trailing 14-8 at halftime, the Indians took the lead in the third on Tanner Shirk's 10-yard run and extra point by Firas Abu Adra. The Tribe upped its advantage to 22-14 when Mario Marshall, a guard converted to fullback, spun free for a 29-yardb run and followed by bulldozing in from the 1-yard line early in the fourth.
"We lost some of our big-play capabilities (with Dimeler's injury)," Polites said. "But guys stepped up."
The first half featured big plays – three long touchdowns, four turnovers, six sacks, and several spectacular catches.
On the game's third play from scrimmage, Wengert found Michigan Daub for a 65-yard score. Funck (game-high 161 yards on 16 carries) powered in for the conversion and the Vikings led 8-0.
The Indians answered immediately. On Donegal's first scrimmage play, Shirk veered left and raced 76 yards untouched to pay dirt. Shirk (21-140) headed left on the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 8.
Northern Lebanon took a 14-8 lead into the half when Funck followed his blocking off the left side and rumbled 69 yards to the end zone. The score came with 10:37 left in the half, and the Viking defense made its lead stand up with stellar play.
Donegal was held to minus yardage on five straight plays, and Luis Negreiros highlighted the defensive stand with a forced fumble and recovery.
Shirk's interception of a Wengert pass at the Donegal 3-yard line not only snuffed out a potential scoring drive but it set up a marathon march by the Tribe.
Starting with 7:25 left in the half, the Indians used 18 plays to drive to the Viking 10. Three sacks by the NL defense, two by Funck with a share by Dustin Motter, and one by Ethan Beard, slowed the march that finally stalled with an incomplete pass on fourth down with three ticks left.
Donegal's defensive effort in the first half was headed by Shirk, Marshall and Nick Ketner, each of whom forced a turnover.
Northern Lebanon 34, Donegal 22
Northern Lebanon 86020—34Donegal8077—22
NL — Daub 65 pass from Wengert (Funck run)
D — Shirk 76 run (Shirk run)
NL — Funck 69 run (pass fail)
D — Shirk 10 run (Abu Adra kick
D — Marshall 1 run (Abu Adru kick)
NL — Funck 5 run (run fail)
NL — Wengert 24 run (run fail)
NL — Wengert 10 run (Motter run)
NLDFirst downs1115Rushes-yards31-20158-174Passing6-12-23-7-0Passing yards15170Total yards352244Punts2-395-31Fumbles-lost3-34-3Penalties-yards9-781-4