Elizabethtown took advantage of nine Hershey fumbles and two interceptions en route to a resounding 42-0 victory over the Trojans. For the second consecutive year, the Bears opened the season with back-to-back shutouts.
Through the first eight quarters of the season, Elizabethtown has outscored their opponents 70-0. The Bears’ defense recovered three of Hershey’s fumbles and intercepted two passes.
“That’s great. These guys, they’re hitters and they will hit you and you better be ready. You better protect the ball or you will lose it against these guys. They bring it from the heart and I can’t ask for much better than that,” defensive coordinator TJ Rudy said.
Four Elizabethtown penalties stalled the Bears’ offense in the first quarter. They also had to call a timeout after they did not line-up properly. The defense did its job, however, and the two teams were tied in a scoreless first quarter.
Hershey fumbled on three consecutive plays in the second quarter and recovered the first two. The third time was the charm for Elizabethtown as they recovered the ball at Hershey’s 6-yard line. Cayden Livingston ran it in on the very next play to give Elizabethtown the lead.
The second fumble recovery of the game was scooped up by Cade Robinson. E-Town had the ball at Hershey’s 38-yard line and picked up four yards on first down. Riding the momentum of the turnover and facing no worse than third and manageable, coach Bill McDonald dialed up a deep pass and the offense executed. Junior quarterback Cole Patrick launched a 34-yard touchdown pass to Alex Diahn down the right sideline. After David Shank missed a field goal and had his first point after attempt blocked, McDonald went for two and the Bears convert.
Greg Good recovered yet another fumble and Patrick hit Grant Gaumer down the seam to put Elizabethtown up three scores. Devyn Clair managed to hit the Hershey quarterback as he tried to throw which led to an interception by Dane Hilsher.
Anthony Funk broke three tackles and turned a short pass into a long gain and got the Bears to the 3-yard line. Clair battled his way into the end zone on the next play to cap a 28-point second quarter.
Clair added two more in the second half, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth, to put the finishing touches on a dominating victory.
“I feel like we had a little bit of a slow start. It was 0-0 after the first quarter, but we got it going. We got some momentum going and the game shifted from there,” Clair said.
Clair and Livingston combined to rush 21 times for 104 yards and four touchdowns. McDonald said that he likes having two dynamic running backs.
“We were rotating them in and Devyn is a tough guy to get down. Cayden Livingston is doing a good job and he had some beautiful runs,” McDonald said.
In addition to his 34-yard touchdown, Diahn also had an interception in the fourth quarter after filling in for Cole Livingston.
The E-Town offense was 3-6 on third down conversions while Hershey was 4-12. Elizabethtown was called for eight penalties (and a sideline warning) and the Trojans were called for six penalties.
“You could definitely see improvement from game one to game two. That’s what we were looking for. At halftime they came out looking to finish the game and I was happy to see that,” McDonald said.
Patrick finished the game 10-13 for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick also completed 4-6 passes that traveled 20 yards in the air.
“He was a lot more decisive. During we week we said we were going to throw the ball a little bit more and we were asking him to step up and he is very capable. I wanted to get him into a good groove and a good rhythm and he made some good decisions,” McDonald said.
Elizabethtown is scheduled to play at Lebanon on Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. Lebanon (1-1) is coming off a 28-21 victory over the visiting Ephrata Mountaineers. They led 21-0 and 28-7 at different points, but allowed Ephrata to draw closer as the game went on. Elizabethtown defeated Lebanon 36-12 last season.