LEBANON >> It didn't matter whether you wanted to measure by 16 years, two seasons or one month. Friday night at Cedar Crest had been a long time coming.
Returned home for the first time since Sept. 25, the Falcons slugged Conestoga Valley, 37-14, placing them on the precipice of their first district playoff berth since 1999. Justice Belleman rumbled for 242 of Cedar Crest's 393 total rushing yards, in addition to four touchdowns before the fourth quarter. The Falcons (4-5, 3-3 Section One) controlled play from the outset, pounding away at a Buckskins team (3-6, 2-4) that found itself in a similar playoff-hopeful spot pregame, but a far different place inside the trenches once play began.
"Lot of credit goes out to my linemen," Belleman said. "It feels amazing because each and everyone of us played our butts off. I think we earned it."
A district berth, ever the goal of second-year coach Rob Wildasin, should be cemented with a victory over Penn Manor (0-9, 0-6) in next week's regular-season finale. For now, the Falcons will quickly enjoy what unfolded as some of their best football this season.
"Tonight you could finally see our full potential," senior Evan Horn said. "Everyone could see how well we can play."
Cedar Crest marched to touchdowns on each of its opening four series, three via the ground and one through the air. Firing the first of his three total passes, Logan Horn found brother Evan from 15 yards out to initially get on the board. Belleman then sprung for three consecutive rushing scores, the last set up by a pair of excellent Kobe Bolanos scampers.
Conestoga Valley quarterback Grant Stoltzfus exited early in the third quarter due to an apparent injury. He finished the first half 10-for-21 for 141 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The pick, reeled in by Zach Keffer, was a tip-drill snag that led to the Falcons' third touchdown.
Cedar Crest's first score came after a fourth-down stop on the Buckskins' opening series, from which point the blue and white handed the ball off 63 times compared to only four called pass plays. The Falcons' special teams also blocked a punt late in the third quarter and produced a safety before intermission.
For a team previously snake-bitten by Lady Luck and self-inflicted penalties, Friday's outburst was quite the reward.
"It's a great group of guys and we've been playing for one-and-three-quarter years now," Cedar Crest senior offensive lineman Alex Flocken said. "This is a huge week. Can't sleep on this one."
Yet with history so close, the real trick may be falling asleep in the first place.
Cedar Crest 37, Conestoga Valley 14
CC — L. Horn 15-yard pass to E. Horn (Peffley kick)
CV — Stoltzfus 52-yard pass to Yoder (Martin kick)
CC — Belleman 11-yard run (Peffley kick)
CC — Belleman 1-yard run (Peffley kick)
CC — Belleman 5-yard run (Peffley kick)
CC — Safety
CC — Belleman 3-yard run Peffley kick)
CV — Martin 22-yard pass to Yoder (Martin kick)
Rushing — CC: Justice Belleman 34-242, Evan Horn 8-69, Kobe Bolanos, 5-54, Logan Horn 7-22, Nate Troveringer 3-9, Greg Munnion 1-5, Tanner Miller 1-3, Stevie Roda 2-1, AJ Apple 3-(-1), Team 2(-6). CV: Connor Brinton 17-70, Kole Martin 5-40, Jerrice Stokes 1-5, Jose Barbon 1-0, Team 1-(-16).
Passing — CC: L. Horn 1-3-15-1, Roda 0-1. CV: Grant Stoltzfus 10-21-132-1, Martin 4-5-61-0.
Receiving — CC: E. Horn 1-15. CV: Jordan Yoder 4-86, K. Martin 5-60, Hanna 2-27, Brinton 1-15, Jose Barnon 2-5.