Bad weather forced the Elizabethtown Area High School football team to move its scheduled game against Dover from Friday, Aug. 31, to Monday, Sept. 3, giving the Bears an extra two days to gear up for what seemed like a tough matchup on paper.
However, they went out and celebrated like it was a holiday (Indeed, it was: Labor Day). The Bears scored nine touchdowns in route to a 61-40 victory over the Eagles, with senior quarterback Cole Patrick somehow outdoing his performance from the previous week’s game against Dover.
Elizabethtown got the ball to begin the contest and had to deal get out of a number of hairy situations. Patrick connected with senior running back Zach Frank for a 27-yard screen pass to convert on third and 10. After two pre-snap penalties set the Bears back to first and 20, he then found senior Cole Livingston for a 44-yard gain, followed immediately by a 5-yard fade pass to junior Cole Hitz for a 5-yard touchdown. Sophomore kicker Cade Denlinger’s extra point try went wide, keeping the score at 6-0.
Dover’s initial drive was stymied with back-to-back sacks from junior Adnan Traore, forcing the Eagles to punt. On the ensuing Elizabethtown series, Patrick scrambled for 12 yards on a third and 10, then tossed a 24-yard TD to junior Cole Rice to put the team up 13-0.
Early in the second quarter, the Eagles had to resort to some magic on their next drive to get things going. Junior quarterback Justin Johnson found sophomore Cameron Fetrow for a first down on third and 10, then converted a fourth down try himself off a double reverse pass from senior Derek Arevalo. However, the series ended abruptly when Rice forced a fumble that Elizabethtown recovered inside the 5-yard line.
While forcing a turnover to prevent a score was great, the Bears still had to move the ball out of a perilous spot to avoid a safety. Something worse ended up happening. Frank lost a fumble of his own that was recovered in the end zone by Dover senior Brandon Lawler for a TD, narrowing the gap to 13-7. Elizabethtown answered quickly though; on the second play of the next drive, Patrick launched a missile to senior Alex Diahn for a 55-yard score, putting the team up 19-7 after Denlinger missed another extra point.
It didn’t take long for the Bears defense to impact the game again. Traore and senior Tyler Lanza teamed up for a sack, with the former forcing the ball loose and junior Tristan Mabee recovering to give the offense a short field. Three plays later, Patrick tossed a 20-yard touchdown to sophomore Luke Pierson for a 26-7 advantage.
Dover recovered slightly, first with a 28-yard pass to Arevalo and then with a 64-yard TD to sophomore Shane Klinedenst, who was left uncovered. After an Elizabethtown punt, the Eagles tried to get things going before halftime, but a pass to Klinedenst was broken up by senior Amos Kollie and intercepted by Frank, who returned the ball inside the red zone. That was enough for Patrick to scramble into the end zone from 8 yards out with 4 seconds left in the half, giving the Bears a 33-14 lead at the break.
Traore got his fourth sack of the night alongside sophomore Billy McNitt to halt Dover’s opening drive in the third quarter. Patrick threw a 45-yard pass to Pierson to set up a 33-yard rushing score for Frank and a 40-14 lead.
Dover went three-and-out on its next series, and it initially looked like Elizabethtown would do the same after getting the ball back. However, senior punter Collin Hudak made a heads-up play by running 45 yards for a first down after a low snap, which was immediately followed by a 34-yard jet sweep TD for Livingston, giving the Bears a 47-14 advantage.
The Eagles scored on a 6-yard rushing TD late in the period, but Patrick quickly responded, first with a long pass to Pierson and then with a wide-open 23-yard TD pass to junior Elijah Eberly with 10 seconds to go in the third. The Bears led 54-21 entering the final stretch.
Sophomore running back Bryce Miller found the end zone from 18 yards out on Dover’s first drive in the fourth quarter. Patrick once again hooked up with Diahn, this time for a 49-yard TD. Miller got another score from a yard away on the ensuing series, and Dover later added another TD late in the game, though both extra points failed (the second due to sophomore Elijah Reitmeyer blowing up the attempt). The Bears backups then ran out the clock for the win.
Patrick had previously set a school record for passing yards with 415. He beat himself by one yard this time around, throwing for 416 yards and 6 TDs on 15 for 22 passing, adding 20 yards and a score on 4 rushes. He’s the lone L-L League QB to throw for over 400 yards twice in his career. Head coach Andy Breault sought to attack Dover’s talented defense head-on rather than change what was successful for the Bears in week one.
“They have some pretty good athletes,” Breault said. “The corners are cover guys and were locking up man out there, so you take advantage of their safeties. That worked out well for us. We move the guys around in different formations (and) positions. Certain people go certain places. You can get a fresh guy in there and get him the ball. (Cole) likes to throw to the open guy, so I’m glad.”
Pierson led the team with 5 catches for 156 yards and a score, often beating Dover’s linebackers over the middle. Diahn had 2 catches for 104 yards, both for TDs. Patrick threw to eight different receivers, five of whom caught touchdowns.
The rushing attack for Elizabethtown was once again subdued. Hudak actually ended up leading the team in yards with his impromptu fake punt attempt. Frank had 39 yards and a TD on 4 carries, 33 coming on the score. Livingston finished similarly, with 37 yards on 3 carries, 33 on a TD.
“It’s about numbers,” Breault said. “There were times where they had nine guys in the box, and with two corners covering, we’re gonna take the best matchup. There’s no sense running (against that), so we’ll throw.”
Dover’s offense did well statistically, though much of the yardage came against Elizabethtown’s backups late in the game. Johnson finished with 192 yards and a TD on 11 for 21 passing, though he did throw an interception. Miller led the team in rushing with 8 rushes for 119 yards and 2 TDs, while Klinedenst had a team-high 82 yards and a score on 2 catches. The difference in the score resulted from the 3 turnovers forced by the Bears. Traore led the team with 8 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Lanza was second with 7 tackles.
“It was a lot more intensity,” Breault said. “This is the first full week (defensive coordinator) Pat Denneker had the defense, and he did a heck of a job getting them prepared. It brings a little bit of a spark. He expects a lot out of them and he’ll drive them to their best, and it shows. The linebackers played a lot better today than they did last week.”
The Bears are set for their first away game on Friday, Sept. 7, at Conrad Weiser, who runs the Wing-T offense like Donegal, Elizabethtown’s week one opponent. Due to the weather delay, however, the team will have just three days to get ready, a daunting task, but one Breault’s ready to tackle.
“That’s gonna be a factor because tomorrow’s gonna have to be an easy day,” he said. “We’ll get back at it Wednesday with a little more intensity. (The) pregame might be a little more intense than it has been in the past couple of weeks. One game at a time still. “(We’re) plugging away. I’ve already watched Conrad Weiser on film. They’re a sound team. It’s gonna take another good performance to come out against them.”