WILKES-BARRE – It’s one of the stranger plays you will ever see.
A blocked 51-yard field-goal attempt. A lateral. A big lineman rumbling down the sidelines, led by a flock of his teammates.
When King’s Ron Garrett motored down the right sideline with no time left on the clock in the second quarter, cutting Albright’s lead to 14-10, everyone at McCarthy Stadium knew momentum was squarely in the locker room of the home Monarchs.
It stood there when play resumed in the second half.
Albright College scored 21 points in the third quarter, and racked up almost 300 yards of offense in the second half en route to a 48-29 victory during homecoming day at King’s.
The Lions improve to 2-2, while King’s remains winless in 2013. The Monarchs have lost seven of their last eight homecoming games.
“It’s a tight game at that point. We kind of changed the tone at halftime from what the heck are we doing to here is what we are going to do coming out,” Albright head coach John Marzka said. “For our kicker, that was field-goal range. He has a 52-yarder already. You line up to kick close to a school record, and if you make it, it’s huge. Even if you miss it, oh well, because you finished with the ball in your hands. But to have it blocked, and not tackle the guy, we just gave away the momentum. And I hate doing that before halftime.”
The blocked punt before halftime was something you see on the day’s top plays. Tyler Struckus busted through the line and got his hands on the kick. Anthony Martuccio recovered the loose ball, and took it nine yards. But right before he was tackled, he lateralled it back to the 6-foot-1, 247-pound defensive end Garrett, who went 54 yards untouched for the score.
A 14-3 deficit, and possibly more if the field goal splits the uprights, was trimmed in half.
But the Lions stole that momentum in just five minutes.
King’s quarterback Tyler Hartranft was picked off deep in his own territory on the team’s first possession of the second half, which led to a four-play, 31-yard Albright score when Ty Hughes went off the right side from 8 yards out.
Then on the Monarchs’ next possession, Albright’s Chris Stephens broke through the middle of a slow-developing punt, blocked the ball back to the end zone and hopped on the pigskin for another score.
Just like that, King’s was facing an uphill battle, down 28-10.
“It’s 14 points in a heartbeat. You can’t do that against a veteran team,” King’s head coach Jeff Knarr said. “They have 32 seniors, so they’ve been there and done that. They held it steady. It’s a learning experience for our kids about execution and learning from the mistakes. I think we played better than we did last week, but not good enough to get the win.”
King’s offense showed signs of life. Quarterbacks Hartranft and Tom Hehre combined for 298 yards, completing 14 of 28 passes.
Most of those went to receiver Dan Kempa. The junior receiver made a spectacular tip-catch in the third quarter, knocking the ball up to himself after he broke behind the secondary and went 84 yards for the score, trimming the lead to 28-17.
He reached the end zone again in the fourth quarter after Hehre hit him in stride for a 55-yard touchdown.
The problem was Albright’s veteran offense was equally as good.
Four-year starting quarterback TJ Luddy tossed for 305 yards and three scores, while two receivers – Daniel McNair and Devron Clark — each had more than 100 yards.
McNair just got one foot down in the end zone on a 5-yard catch that gave Albright an 18-point lead (41-23) with 8:48 left, pretty much sealing the Lion victory.
“We did some good things,” Knarr said. “We tried to run the ball more consistently, but then again, when you fall behind, it hurts you in that aspect. Last week, we didn’t make big plays in the passing game. This week, we did. Overall, looking at it live, we did OK on offense. But we can’t give short fields to our defense because it puts them in a bad spot.”
Albright 48, King’s 29
K – Kevin Mulvihill 29-yard field goal, 2:42
A – Josh Macleod 2 pass from TJ Luddy (Dan Sobolewski kick), 12:56
A – Devron Clark 29 pass from Luddy (Sobolewski kick), 1:05
K – Ron Garrett 54 blocked field goal return (Mulvihill kick), 0:00
A – Ty Hughes 8 run (Sobolewski kick), 12:08
A – Chris Stephens 0 yard blocked punt return (Sobolewski kick), 10:00
K – Dan Kempa 84 pass from Tyler Hartranft (Mulvihill kick), 9:42
A – Hughes 2 run (Sobolewski kick), 5:37
K – Kyle McGrath 24 run (kick blocked), 14:20
A – Daniel McNair 5 pass from Luddy (rush failed), 8:48
A – Uriah Brickhouse 3 run (Sobolewski kick), 5:35
K – Kempa 55 pass from Tom Hehre (kick blocked), 4:09
RUSHING —A, Ty Hughes 18-89, Brian Wickkiser 6-39, TJ Luddy 5-23, Uriah Brickhouse 4-16, Josh Macleod 4-14, Team 1-(-1), Devron Clark 1-(-2). K, Kyle McGrath 14-31, Tyler Hartranft 5-19, Judens Goimbert 5-18, Tom Hehre 1-10, Team 1-(-7).
PASSING —A, TJ Luddy 24-35-0-305. K, Tyler Hartranft 13-26-1-243, Tom Hehre 1-2-0-55.
RECEIVING — A, Daniel McNair 9-139, Devron Clark 7-118, Vinny Williams 3-23, Eric Wade 2-14, Gabriel Frias 2-9, Josh Macleod 1-2. K, Dan Kempa 4-166, Judens Goimbert 3-37, Darren Mitchell 2-23, Kyle McGrath 2-12, Josh Sanders 1-39, Jay Thomas 1-14, Brian Atkinson 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS – A, Matt Hnatiuk.
MISSED FIELD GOALS – A, Dan Sobolewski 2 (38 yards, 51 yards).