Red Lion runs over Northeastern in Division I showdown
- Red Lion scored 35 straight points to erase a 7-0 deficit.
- The Lions improve to 5-0 on the year and 2-0 in Y-A League Division I play.
- Northeastern drops second straight game after opening year 3-0.
RED LION — For 12 months, all the Red Lion football team could look forward to was Friday night's showdown against Northeastern.
After losing to the Bobcats in Week 5 a year ago by one point in a game that was decided as much by the terrible weather as it was by the players on the field, the Lions circled this date on the schedule as their chance for redemption.
And, boy, were they ready.
After both teams got off to slow starts and the game was tied at halftime, Red Lion blitzed Northeastern in the second half, rattling off 28 straight points in the half to win 35-14 and remain unbeaten on the year at 5-0 and 2-0 in York-Adams League Division I play. The Bobcats dropped their second straight league game, falling to 3-2 on the year and 0-2 in Division I.
"We wanted this one bad from last year," senior running back Dylan Gurreri said. "We knew what we had to do and our guys focused this week and we clicked."
After both high-scoring offenses were held off the scoreboard in the first quarter and then each traded touchdowns in the second quarter, carrying a 7-7 score into the break, it was the Lions who took control in the second half.
They set the tone right out of the chute in the third quarter, using up more than half the clock on their opening drive, eventually leading to a Patrick Daugherty two-yard run to take a 14-7 lead. It was Daugherty who then completely changed the course of the game on defense, picking off Bobcats' quarterback Shannon Valenti a few plays later, leading to a Sam Emig 13-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7 Lions. At that point, it was all Red Lion, which added insult to injury when Gurreri ripped off a 66-yard touchdown run to put the game away at 28-7, all before the third quarter came to an end.
"Every team has a strength and obviously our strength is up front," Lions' head coach Jesse Shay said. "We like to pound the ball. We'll take the proverbial three yards and a cloud of dust, so in the first half, we tried to get the (running game) established and then in the second half, we think that our guys are bigger and stronger...and I thought we took it to them."
For good measure, Emig put the nail in the coffin midway through the fourth quarter with a nine-yard touchdown run, making it 35-7 and a 35-0 scoring run by Red Lion.
Northeastern was the team that opened the game's scoring, coming on a six-yard touchdown catch by Coby Motley from Valenti to grab a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. However, that was really the only bright moment of the night for the Bobcats, who couldn't put another scoring drive together until late in the game, when Chris Whack scored from 11 yards out to make the score a little bit more respectable.
It was the second straight week that Northeastern faltered in the second half, after blowing a 20-0 halftime deficit in Week 4 in its 28-27 defeat to Central York. Two straight weeks of second-half struggles has head coach Jon Scepanski concerned. He knows it's something the team must address in the week of practice coming up before the Bobcats' season is completely lost.
"We have to come back Monday, refocused and ready to go and put it behind us," Scepanski said. "We gotta compete the rest of the year."
For the Lions, their dominating performance began well before Friday night, having what Shay called their best week of practice so far this year. The focus during the week carried over into Friday night's win, a result that probably proved more about the Lions than any of their previous four wins, considering the opponent.
"No disrespect to the first four teams we played, but (the media) picked the Bobcats to win the division for a reason," Shay said. "That's a quality football team with athletes everywhere. I thought we played well."
Red Lion got a lift offensively from Daugherty, a key component on its defense through the first four weeks, but he hadn't seen as many touches on offense. That all changed on Friday night, when he carried the ball seven times for 27 yards, bulldozing his way up the middle on a number of key third-down situations to extend drives.
"We knew that I'd probably be getting the ball a little bit more this week because we were just going to try to run it right down the middle instead of outside," he said.
The Lions' rushing attack was relentless all night, totaling 321 yards, led by Gurreri's 155 yards on 19 carries. Not only did he run wild, but he also hooked up with Emig through the air for the team's first score, a 16-yard toss to tie the game at 7-7.
Emig had 86 yards rushing of his own on 13 attempts, while only completing two passes for 18 yards, but totaled three touchdowns.
Whack led Northeastern with 89 rushing yards on 14 carries and one score, while Valenti was 8-of-15 through the air for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Jonathen Butler was his favorite target, catching four balls for 72 yards.
The win for Red Lion keeps it at the top of the Division I standings, in a tie with rival Dallastown, which is also undefeated on the year. But, for a Lions team that felt it was disrespected entering the year, this was a statement victory.
"We were underestimated a lot," Gurreri said. "We have not gotten the respect yet that we deserve and I think tonight gave us that respect and people are going to start noticing that we're not just someone you can push over. We're here to fight."
RED LION 35, NORTHEASTERN 14
Ne — Motley six-yard catch (Seifert kick), 9:34
RL — Gurreri 16-yard catch (Emig kick), 1:35
RL — Daugherty 2-yard run (Emig kick), 5:56
RL — Emig 13-yard run (Emig kick), 3:11
RL — Gurreri 66-yard run (Emig kick), 1:13
RL — Emig 9-yard run (Emig kick), 5:54
Ne — Whack 11-yard run (Seifert kick), 2:04
First Downs: Ne, 12. RL, 19
Rushes-Yards: Ne, 27-104. RL, 47-321
Passing Yards: Ne, 119. RL, 18
Comp-Attempts-INTs: Ne, 9-18-1. RL, 2-5-0
Penalties-Yards: Ne, 3-37.3. RL, 7-63
Punts-Average: Ne, 0-0. RL, 2-35.0
Fumbles-Lost: Ne, 3-0. RL, 1-1
Individual Passing: Ne, Shannon Valenti, 8-15-109, 1 TD. Zech Sanderson, 1-3-10. RL, Sam Emig, 2-5-18, 1 TD.
Individual Rushing: Ne, Chris Whack, 14-89. Michael Cooper, 3-10. Frank Brown, 4-6. Taemar Willis, 2-5. Shannon Valenti, 4-(-)6. Ne, Dylan Gurreri, 19-155. Sam Emig, 13-86. Patrick Daugherty, 7-27. Paul Jones, 4-24. Zach Crossland, 2-19. Tyler Ness, 2-10.
Individual Receiving: Ne, Jonathen Butler, 4-72. Coby Motley, 4-37. Fred Mulbah, 1-10. RL, Dylan Gurreri, 1-16. Taylor Uberti, 1-2.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com