Cayden Livingston and Devyn Clair sliced through the Donegal defense while the Bears forced three Donegal turnovers en route to a second consecutive shutout win over their neighborhood rival, 28-0.
Seniors Zach McNitt and Cade Robinson each scored their first career touchdowns and junior Cole Patrick started his first game at quarterback for the Bears.
McNitt, who also plays rugby, scooped up a Donegal fumble rather than falling on it and returned it 75 yards for Elizabethtown’s second touchdown of the game. Clair was sent on a blitz and delivered the strip sack.
“That was unbelievable. It was a long one and I was tired. Everyone was saying they loved me. It was crazy,” McNitt said.
The first touchdown of the game was also courtesy of Clair. The offensive line created a huge hole and Clair busted through for a 21-yard touchdown on their first drive of the game. Senior running back Cayden Livingston got the Bears to the edge of the red zone with a 51-yard run on the second offensive play of the season.
“It was awesome. It was almost like a flashback to last year because I had the first touchdown last year against the same team in the same kind of situation. I thought it was an awesome moment for our team to cherish together,” Clair said.
Clair (seven carries, 86 yards, TD) and Livingston (14 carries, 138 yards, TD) took much of the offensive burden off Patrick’s shoulder. He was a modest 6-9 for 80 yards and a touchdown.
“We definitely came out firing. They were blitzing a whole lot towards the second half depending on how we were lining up and we just came out, read the play and made a few cuts to get as many yards as we could. Broke a few off,” Livingston said.
Coach Bill McDonald relied on the running back, especially in the first half, before he decided to be more aggressive as the game progressed.
“Our running backs did a real nice job. Quarterback got his first win underneath his belt, which is important. We let him throw the ball a little bit more in the second half. I’d rather let the running backs, in the first half, tote the rock and, in the second half, open it up a little bit more,” McDonald said.
On the very next drive, after McNitt’s touchdown, the Indians decided to call a running back pass that backfired. Cole Livingston timed his jump well and intercepted the pass. The drive eventually stalled before David Shank was sent out for a 48-yard field goal that fell short.
Despite the miss, Shank was crucial in the field position battle. He pinned Donegal inside their own 15-yard line with three separate punts in the first half.
The halftime score was 14-0 and the Bears were set to receive the ball to open the second half. Donegal forced a three-and-out and took over at Elizabethtown’s 40-yard line.
They marched inside Elizabethtown’s 10-yard line, but Clair fought off his blocks on both third and fourth down to put an end to the drive. The two tackles were part of the 10 that he made, including the strip sack.
The sophomore was tied as the second leading tackler with Dane Hilsher. The duo trailed safety Cade Robinson, who finished with 11 tackles.
Robinson’s offensive line included two catches for 16 yards and Elizabethtown’s third score of the night. Cayden Livingston’s 40-yard touchdown run with 2:29 left put the game on ice for Elizabethtown.
Robinson deflected the attention away from his 6-yard touchdown grab and said, “I’m just glad that we got the win. The touchdown was just a bonus.”
Donegal’s offense had more than double the amount of plays as Elizabethtown, but the defense held firm to keep the shutout intact which is exactly what defensive coordinator TJ Rudy was hoping to see.
“Overall I thought the defense played well. They were a better team than what I thought they were on film, but the defense knows what I expect and they rallied and made plays when we had to,” Rudy said.
A positive turnover differential, especially +3, is a strong indicator of which team will come out on top and McDonald was pleased to see a zero in Elizabethtown’s turnover column.
“It’s huge. You ask any defensive coordinator in the league and if you win the turnover battle you are likely going to have a decent outcome. Obviously going +3 is huge,” McDonald said.
The Bears are scheduled to play their home opener against Hershey on Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
Hershey defeated Spring Grove in their opener, 25-12. They ran the ball 39 times for 106 yards and completed three of seven passes for 68 yards. Elizabethtown shutout Hershey last season, 36-0.