The Elizabethtown football team is 3-0 for the second consecutive season after pulling away from Lebanon in the fourth quarter to win, 38-19.
The Bears came into the game having not allowed a point and maintained the streak through the first quarter. Lebanon quarterback Zakee Sailsman was stuffed on his first quarterback sneak attempt, but was successful on the second to record the first score against the Bears.
On the ensuing kickoff, Elizabethtown fumbled the kickoff return and Lebanon returned it for touchdown. In a span of 12 seconds, the Bears saw their 10-point lead turn into a three-point deficit.
“That’s two weeks in a row that we did that, so I’m happy that we didn’t hang our heads because they made a play. We turned it around in a very short period of time,” coach Bill McDonald said.
Rather than run the ball to simply get to halftime, coach Bill McDonald decided that he and the offense were going to try and score before the half. The drive was almost stalled after a bad snap went sailing over Patrick’s head. He recovered the ball, broke a few tackles and turned it into a long gain. The play was reminiscent of his 35-yard touchdown run on the final play of the first quarter to give the Bears their first lead.
Patrick ended the drive when he connected with tight end Paul Beiler. The Bears went into halftime with a 17-13 lead.
“Cole made some nice plays. He’s growing as a quarterback. He did a nice job with the football. He made some good decisions out there running and throwing,” McDonald said.
In the third quarter, Lebanon reached the red zone for the second time after a 45-yard completion got them down to Elizabethtown 8-yard line. They took the lead back from Elizabethtown with a 3-yard touchdown pass. The Cedars missed the point after attempt for the second time to keep it a one possession game, 19-17, with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
The Bears responded as they did in the first half as they scored on the final play of the third quarter. Adnan Traore lined up at fullback with Cayden Livingston. Patrick took the snap and handed it off to Livingston who followed Traore into the end zone. Elizabethtown went into the fourth quarter leading 24-19.
Elizabethtown’s defense was able to take control of the back-and-forth game as they recovered a Lebanon fumble at the Cedars’ 8 yard line. Elizabethtown was unable to score on the first three plays and McDonald was faced with the decision of going for it on 4th and 1 or kicking a field goal. The field goal would have given Elizabethtown an 8-point lead, which is still one possession.
McDonald opted to go for it and Livingston got his second touchdown of the night when he went into the end zone untouched from a yard out.
Sophomore Devyn Clair, the team leader in sacks, put the final nail in the coffin with another strip sack. Sailsman rolled out to his right before Clair made the hit to jar the ball loose. Sailsman seemingly thought that the ball was going to roll out of bounds, but Clair recovered to give Elizabethtown the ball.
At that point, McDonald leaned on his two running backs to run the clock out and preserve the victory. Clair finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
“Our running backs did a real nice job in the second half. Devyn Clair was outstanding on both sides of the ball,” McDonald said.
Clair, just for good measure, sacked Sailsman on the final drive of the game before Elizabethtown finished off the 38-19 victory.
In the situational department, the Bears were 5-5 in the red zone with four touchdowns and one field goal.
“There have been years past where we really had to press that because the numbers were opposite. This year, so far, when we get down there we’re getting points out of it and most likely it’s going to be a touchdown rather than a field goal,” McDonald said.
The Bears opened the 2016 season 3-0 before they suffered their first loss to their next opponent this season, Cocalico.
The Eagles are also 3-0 and heavily rely on their running game for offensive production. They have attempted five passes all season while they have run the ball 92 times. Cocalico averages 375 rushing yards per game and has five rushers that average more than 8.6 yards per carry.
Their defense has performed at a high level as well. They throttled Red Land in their opener, 69-7, and followed that up with a 42-21 victory over Governor Mifflin. In the Eagles’ most recent game, they shut out Upper Perkiomen, 56-0.
While the 2017 season has some parallels to the 2016 season, McDonald said that he and the team has to focus on each individual game rather than concentrate on future matchups.
“Obviously we’re taking one game at a time and we’re not going to look forward. You get into Section Two play and it’s a battle each week so we’re going to take them one at a time. They [Cocalico] are a tough football team and they’re on a roll themselves,” McDonald said.