Elizabethtown scored a season-high 44 points and forced five Lampeter-Strasburg turnovers in a 44-38 overtime victory on Friday, Oct. 13.
Lampeter-Strasburg fired the opening salvo when they scored on their first offensive possession midway through the first half. Elizabethtown’s second possession was capped with Devyn Clair’s 54-yard touchdown reception. The sophomore running back caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage, made one would-be tackler miss, and had the speed to pull away for the touchdown.
The Bears’ defense was called upon to make a stand early in the second quarter when Patrick was intercepted and the Pioneers returned the ball to Elizabethtown’s 11-yard line. The Bears held for the first three plays of the drive before Lampeter-Strasburg tried to convert a 4th and 1, but Cole Rice intercepted the pass and returned the ball to the Pioneers’ 5-yard line. Running back Cayden Livingston scored on the next play and the Bears found themselves leading 14-6.
The interception was the first of two that Rice would have in the game.
“He’s one heck of an athlete. He’s kind of a freaky athlete in the weight room. He does some freaky stuff and I’m glad that he had the night that he had,” coach Bill McDonald said.
It was Livingston that was at the center of the game’s next touchdown, but that was because his fumble was returned for a touchdown. After the play, Livingston remained down on the grass before being helped off the field by his teammates. The team believed that Livingston suffered a high left ankle sprain as a result of the play.
Lampeter-Strasburg led the Bears 16-14 at halftime after Pioneers’ kicker Peyton Denlinger made a 20-yard field goal with 15 second left in the second quarter.
This was the second consecutive week that the Bears went into halftime trailing by two points. Against Manheim Central, the Bears were down 14-12 and turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the second half. Clair flipped the script against Lampeter-Strasburg.
After the Bears’ defense forced a 3-and-out, Clair took a handoff sprinted down the left sideline for a 53-yard touchdown run. The hole was created when the left side of the offensive line collapsed down and was able to prevent the Pioneers’ linebackers from getting a hand on Clair.
Lampeter-Strasburg responded to Clair’s long run with one of their own on the very first play of their drive. Running back Cam Niemeyer broke six tackles before he found himself in the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown run.
In his previous four games, Niemeyer had 48 touches for 693 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns. To highlight the attention that the Bears gave Niemeyer throughout the game, Elizabethtown had three defenders covering Niemeyer as he came out of the backfield for a pass on their opening drive.
“He’s quick. He’s really quick. He’s tough,” McDonald said of Niemeyer.
Elizabethtown regained the lead on David Shank’s 30-yard field goal with 3:11 left in the third quarter.
The Bears forced Lampeter-Strasburg to punt on the next drive, but the snap went over the punter’s head and Elizabethtown recovered in the end zone to take a 31-23 lead into the fourth quarter.
The 17 points that Elizabethtown scored in the third quarter was their second-highest total all season. They scored 28 points in the second quarter against Hershey in the home opener.
Lampeter-Strasburg eventually moved the ball inside Elizabethtown’s 5-yard line and decided to go for it on 4th and 1 for a second time. This time, Lampeter-Strasburg scored from two yards out to bring themselves within two. The Pioneers attempted the two-point conversion and were successful to tie the game 31-31 with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter.
Elizabethtown responded 62 seconds later when they picked up the Pioneers’ blitz long enough for Patrick to find Grant Gaumer running down the seam. Gaumer managed to stiff arm the defender away from him and he, like Clair, had the speed to score a 78-yard touchdown.
Lampeter-Strasburg worked the ball into the red zone for the sixth time on the game’s next drive and Kris Pirozzi’s 6-yard touchdown run tied the game at 38-38.
After both teams exchanged punts, Elizabethtown had the ball on their own 13-yard line with less than two minutes left. They ran the ball on first down and forced the Pioneers to use the first of their three timeouts. McDonald then called for two consecutive pass plays that were incomplete.
After Shank’s punt, Lampeter-Strasburg eventually sent Denlinger out for a 39-yard field goal with three seconds remaining. The kick was wide right and the Bears were playing their second overtime game of the season.
Clair carried the ball four yards on first down before Patrick broke a tackle and scored a touchdown from six yards out on the second play of overtime. Shank’s PAT was blocked to give Elizabethtown a six-point lead.
McDonald said that Patrick’s decision making, aside from the interception, was improved over previous weeks.
“He did a better job tonight 99 percent of the time by hitting some spots that we want him to hit. He’s a great athlete and did a nice job getting in the end zone there at the end so I’m real proud of him. Real proud of him,” McDonald said.
Pirozzi ran for nine yards on Lampeter-Strasburg’s first play of overtime, but the Pioneers’ second play had a much different ending than Elizabethtown’s. The Bears hit Pirozzi behind the line of scrimmage, forced him to fumbled and recovered to end the game.
“I’m not really surprised what happened on that last play because those guys on that defense are a bunch of tough nuts. They’ve been playing tough all year long,” McDonald said.
The win snapped the Bears’ three-game losing streak and was their first in Section Two play.
“These young guys, they needed a win like this more than a lot of people would even know. We needed to get one like this to a team that has beaten us the last two years since I’ve been here. They took our heart out last year,” McDonald said.
Elizabethtown was without safety/wide receiver Cade Robinson for a third consecutive game due to injury. Zach Kreider and Greg Good were additional absences for the Bears, both due to injury. Middle linebacker/tight end Paul Beiler returned after missing two straight games with a separated shoulder.
Elizabethtown (4-3, 1-3) is scheduled to return home after two weeks on the road to play Garden Spot (2-5, 1-3) on Friday, Oct. 20.
The Spartans average 40 points and 500 yards per game. Defensively, they allow 44 points and 390 yards per game.
Quarterback Cameron Roth has thrown for 1,561 yards and 15 touchdowns, both marks lead Section Two. Roth has also run the ball 78 times for 610 yards and six touchdowns, third and sixth in Section Two, respectively.
In his career, Roth has thrown for 4,805 yards and rushed for 1,940 yards. If he throws for 195 yards and runs for 60 yards, he will become the third player in Lancaster-Lebanon League history to throw for 5,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards in a career.