WILKES-BARRE — A bumbled kickoff. A safety. Poor field position.
Lake-Lehman had to endure plenty Friday night until the defense snapped the stagnation.
The Black Knights turned a fumble recovery and a fourth-down stand into touchdowns as they held on for a 14-10 victory over Meyers in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2A-A game.
The victory gave Lake-Lehman (4-1) sole possession of first place over Northwest (4-1) based on the WVC’s points system. Meyers fell to 2-3. losing for a second time by five points or less.
“Once we got settled down (we were all right),” Lehman coach Jerry Gilsky said. “Our kids were getting all jazzed up because we’re used to running and getting big gains. Backs weren’t seeing the holes and we had to calm them down a little bit.”
There was plenty to rattle Lehman in the first two quarters, starting with the opening kickoff. Meyers kicker Adam Casey, recruited from the soccer team to fill in for injured Cal Lisman, dropped the kickoff between two lines of Lehman players. No one responded, and Meyers’ Zahir Dunell recovered.
Meyers scored on the next play, only to have the touchdown negated by a penalty. Lehman held on four downs inside its 9-yard line, but the field position swap would be something the Black Knights never overcame in the first half. All five of their possessions started inside their 20.
The second possession resulted in the only points of the first half. Wingback Joey Vigil tried to reverse his field on a running play, but instead had a lineman shoved into him. The ball popped loose and into the end zone. Lehman’s Brady Butler recovered the fumble, preventing a touchdown but not a safety.
End result — Meyers led 2-0 as the teams headed to the locker rooms. That touchdown that was nixed by the penalty, though, haunted the Mohawks. They didn’t find the end zone again until running back Nate Mahalak’s 2-yard run with 33 seconds left in the game.
“Huge getting points off the board,” Meyers coach Corry Hanson said.
So was the turnover on Meyers’ first play of the third quarter. Lehman defensive back Jimmy Stuart recovered the fumble, and the Black Knights finally got their running game in motion. Nine plays later, fullback Dustin Jones busted in from 1 yard out for a 6-2 lead.
Another Lehman defensive back came up big on Meyers’ next possession. Josh Winters made a stop in the Meyers backfield on a fourth-and-2, giving the ball back to the offense.
A 47-yard run by Vigil was the catalyst on the ensuing 13-play scoring drive. He capped it with a 4-yard run, barely getting into the end zone. Butler’s two-point conversion run gave Lehman a 14-2 lead at 7:46 of the fourth quarter.
“We told the kids to be physical and play aggressive,” Hanson said. “We knew they weren’t going to throw the ball. Everyone knew they weren’t going to throw the ball. I thought we played very aggressive except for one series in the third quarter.”
Lehman finished with 263 yards rushing against a Meyers defense that has been vastly improved against the run from a year ago. Vigil used a couple big runs to finish with 108 yards. Jones had 75 and Butler added 74.
“We took the ball out of (Meyers’) hands,” Gilsky said. “We’re eating up the clock running the ball. When you throw it, you’re stopping the clock, so it’s a philosophy I really do believe in.”
The philosophy also limited Meyers’ Matt DeMarco, one of the top running quarterbacks in the WVC. DeMarco had his string of four games with 132 rushing yard or more snapped. He finished with 85 on 17 carries.
Lake-Lehman 14, Meyers 10
MEY — Safety, Lehman’s Brady Butler recovers fumble in end zone, 0:24
LL — Dustin Jones 1 run (kick failed), 6:42
LL — Joey Vigil 4 run (Brady Butler run), 7:46
MEY — Nate Mahalak 2 run (Matt DeMarco run), 0:33
RUSHING — Lehman, Jones 17-75, Vigil 12-108, Butler 16-74, Antonio Ferrari 2-8, team 2-(minus-2). Meyers, DeMarco 17-85, Mahalak 10-38, Mark Robinson 2-12, Zahir Dunell 6-(minus-5).
PASSING — Lehman, Ferrari 1-7-1-21. Meyers, DeMarco 7-18-2-63
RECEIVING — Lehman, Zach Brucher 1-21. Meyers, Jacob Brominski 3-35, Josh Schiowitz 2-8, Tyon Thomas 2-20.
INTERCEPTIONS — Lehman, Josh Winters 1-0, Jimmy Stuart 1-0. Meyers, DeMarco 1-49.
MISSED FGs — None.