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LD soars to co-championship

Posted 11/5/13


It was only a few short years ago that Lower Dauphin’s football program was known as an also-ran.  In two seasons’ time, the Falcons erased that disappointing label and earned a new moniker: champions.  On Friday night, Nov. …

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LD soars to co-championship


bigtouchdown webPhoto by John Diffenderfer Lower Dauphin’s Troy Spencer scores a touchdown, while a Hershey defender tries to stop him.“This is huge for our program,” said Lower Dauphin head coach Rob Klock.  “This group of seniors, along with last year’s seniors, has changed the attitude and work ethic of this team.  For the team to be rewarded with a share of the Keystone Division title is quite an honor.”

In topping the Trojans, the Falcons did what they do best by using a powerful run game to put up points and control time of possession, while a stout defense kept Hershey’s offense from ever making a serious push.

It was LD’s offense that set the tone early when the unit put together an 11-play, 68-yard opening drive that was capped when Spencer converted a fourth-and-goal from Hershey’s 3-yard line by rushing off right end and into the end zone.  Joe Julius’ extra-point gave the Falcons a 7-0 advantage with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter.

The Trojans looked up to task in the early going when they responded to Lower Dauphin’s initial score by going 80 yards in just five plays and two minutes, including a Jailen Harmon 51-yard touchdown run that tied the score at 7 apiece.

But the Falcons went right back to work on their ensuing possession, driving 65 yards in 12 plays.  Runs of 10-plus yards by Spencer and running back Dalton Yentsch jumpstarted the drive, and Spencer called his own number on second-and-goal from Hershey’s 8-yard line, keeping the ball and plunging up  the middle for another LD touchdown with 11:55 left in the second quarter.  

Hershey moved the ball again on the team’s next possession.  But while the Trojans did manage to put together a promising 12-play series, an offensive holding penalty stalled the drive and the Falcon defense held on a crucial third down on their side of the 50-yard line, forcing a Hershey punt.

Lower Dauphin got the ball back with just over six minutes remaining in the first half, and the Falcons ran 12 more plays, racking up four first downs en route to Julius’ 22-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Blue and White a 17-7 lead at the break.

LDtouchdown webPhotos by John Diffenderfer Lower Dauphin’s Troy Spencer scores a touchdownThe Trojans threatened again early in the third quarter and moved the ball into LD territory on their second drive of the half.  But the Falcon defense stiffened as Hershey neared the red zone, forcing a fourth-and-3 from the 20-yard line.  The Trojans tried to pick up the first down on the ground, but linebacker George Hatalowich and defensive lineman Ben Ross stopped Harmon short of the yard-to-gain marker.  After struggling to slow down the Trojan offense in the first half, Lower Dauphin’s defense adjusted and played its brand of hard-nosed football in the second half, allowing points on just one of Hershey’s five second-half possessions.

“We practiced all week against Hershey’s offensive scheme, but it is very hard to simulate with your scout team at the same speed as we saw on Friday night,” said Klock about his defense’s second-half performance.  “Both [Jesse] Campbell and [Jailen] Harmon have great speed, and Hershey executes their scheme very well.  Our players just needed some time to adjust and execute our plan of assignment football.”

Lower Dauphin put more points on the board before the end of the third quarter when Spencer scored his third rushing touchdown of the night from 12 yards out with 46 seconds left in the stanza.  Following Hershey’s second touchdown of the night, the Falcons answered back with a four-play, 65-yard drive that culminated when Spencer shed a group of Trojan defenders, bounced outside off right end and rushed 27 yards to pay dirt with 9:47 left in the fourth quarter.

After Lower Dauphin’s defense forced its second three-and-out of the game, Spencer put a bow on the night’s scoring by running the read-option to perfection, faking a handoff, tucking the football and scampering across the goal line from 4 yards out with 2:57 left to play.

Spencer finished with a game-high 244 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 33 attempts.  Yentsch had a big night as well, rushing 17 times for 130 yards.  In all, the Falcons racked up 415 yards of total offense.

With the victory, Lower Dauphin finished the regular season with a 9-1 overall record.  The team’s 6-1 record within the division was good enough to earn them a share of the Keystone crown along with Bishop McDevitt and Cedar Cliff.  The Falcons lone loss came to McDevitt, the Crusaders lone defeat came at Cedar Cliff, and Lower Dauphin handed the Colts their only loss of the season, hence the three-way tie.

Now, the Falcons turn their attention to the postseason in the form of the PIAA District 3 playoffs.  Lower Dauphin earned the tournament’s four-seed and will host Chambersburg at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday night, Nov. 8.  When asked if his team will prepare any differently now that the postseason is upon us, Klock stated that nothing would change, save for turning the clocks back.     

“I would say it will be business as usual,” he said.  “The only difference will be that we will practice on our turf field so we have lights because of it getting dark out earlier.”{jcomments on}


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