HANOVER — There’s little secret to what the Red Lion football team will do on offense.
The Lions like to run the ball — a lot. But, until an opposing defense proves that it can slow down the attack, Red Lion will keep on running.
On Friday night, the South Western defense was the latest to be victimized by the relentless attack, yielding 356 rushing yards in the Lions’ 42-13 road victory. The win improved Red Lion to 6-0 on the year and 3-0 in the York-Adams League Division I standings. The Mustangs suffered their first league defeat, falling to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in Division I.
"Definitely that front five," senior wide receiver Paul Jones said about what makes the rushing attack work. "They've been together for so many years now. They're just so strong up front and when they put their minds to it, they can move anybody."
In the first five games of the season, the dominant rushing attack for the Lions helped them reel off big scoring runs in each game that allowed them to break open big leads. That was the case, as well, on Friday night.
After both teams scored on their first possessions of the game, Red Lion rattled off 21 straight points in the first and second quarters to open up a 28-7 lead and establish control in the contest.
First, there was a one-yard Sam Emig touchdown run to make it 14-7 Lions late in the first quarter. Then, just before halftime, Emig connected with wide receiver Taylor Uberti on a 12-yard pass to take a 28-7 lead into the halftime break. But, between those two scores, Red Lion manufactured its best drive of the game, a six-play, 94-yard clinic, which, in hindsight, was the game-defining scoring sequence.
"We take every drive as seriously as the last one, but I think it definitely got us up," Emig said.
Out of the half, it looked like South Western was going to get back in the game when backup quarterback Sean Wolfe found Teian Moore on a 61-yard pass to bring the score to 28-13 with more than 22 minutes still to play. Then, the Mustangs’ defense forced a blocked field goal attempt on the Lions’ ensuing possession, but couldn’t make anything of it.
After that, Red Lion’s offense put the game to rest with more back-breaking scoring drives. Emig hit Ben Frye on an 11-yard touchdown pass to go up 35-13 late in the third quarter. Emig then put the final touches on an overwhelming performance with a 29-yard touchdown scamper to bring the game to its final score.
The Lions’ 29-point victory was a far cry from how the game looked like it would play out through the game’s first five minutes. Red Lion’s first drive consisted of seven plays — all runs — to go 51 yards and resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Patrick Daugherty. It took nearly four minutes off the clock, while South Western’s opening drive was just three plays and 49 seconds, capped by a Delunche Shaw 56-yard touchdown run on third down to tie the game. At that point, the game appeared destined to be a shootout, but only the Lions’ offense maintained that pace, while their defense stiffened.
"We had to step it up, but we each knew each other was going to do their jobs out there," Emig said.
The dominance of Red Lion’s rushing attack also opened up plenty of opportunities for its passing game to operate. Emig was an efficient 12-of-13 for 116 yards and two touchdown strikes, by far his most completions in a game this season.
"That's what I've always believed," head coach Jesse Shay said about having his rushing attack set up the passing game. "...Here was a chance for it to happen and you saw when it starts working. It looks pretty good."
Emig also led the team with 121 rushing yards on 18 attempts, while Dylan Gurreri ran for 103 yards on 16 carries, despite missing most of the second quarter after receiving a nasty horse-collar tackle.
Jones was Emig’s favorite target in the passing game, finishing with six catches for 55 yards, while four of those came on designed jet sweep plays where he came in motion behind the center and took a shovel pass from Emig.
For the Mustangs, the combination of Wolfe and starting quarterback Nate VanCampen couldn’t get anything going in the passing game, combining to go 4-of-17 for 100 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. VanCampen was pulled from the game at halftime to try and light a spark for South Western after going just 1-of-8 for 10 yards.
Shaw wound up rushing for 73 yards on five carries, but his 56-yard touchdown run actually accounted for more than a quarter of the team’s 214 yards of offense. Likewise, Moore’s 61-yard touchdown catch made up 61 percent of the team’s passing attack. The two plays prove that, without the big play, the Mustangs couldn’t muster any sort of sustained drive against the stout defense of the Lions.
"I think we just missed some stuff," South Western coach Damian Poalucci said. "I think they did some nice stuff defensively. Offense, I thought we played pretty well, overall. I think we missed some passes and then we kind of hurt ourselves with a block here that put us behind the sticks where we're second and long. ...We just couldn't get anything going."
Red Lion will host winless New Oxford next Friday night, while South Western will travel to Dallastown.
RED LION 42, SOUTH WESTERN 13
RL — Daugherty 2-yard run (Emig kick), 8:28
SW — Shaw 56-yard run (Sneeringer kick), 7:39
RL — Emig 1-yard run (Emig kick), :27
RL — Emig 15-yard run (Emig kick), 5:51
RL — Uberti 12-yard catch (Emig kick), 1:12
SW — T. Moore 61-yard catch (kick failed), 10:07
RL — Frye 13-yard catch (Emig kick), :59
RL — Emig 29-yard run (Emig kick), 8:48
First Downs: RL, 29. SW, 8
Rushes-Yards: RL, 52-356. SW, 29-114
Passing Yards: RL 116. SW, 100
Comp-Attempts-INTs: RL, 12-13-0. SW, 4-17-2
Penalties-Yards: RL, 5-40. SW, 6-29.
Punts-Average: RL, 0-0. SW, 4-30.0
Fumbles-Lost: RL, 1-1. SW, 2-1
Individual Passing: RL, Emig 12-13-116, 2 TD's. SW, Wolfe 4-9-90, 1 TD. VanCampen 1-8-10.
Individual Rushing: RL, Emig 18-121. Gurreri 16-103. Daugherty 8-75. Ness 7-36. Dillon 2-20. Mentzer 1-1. SW, Shaw 5-73. Hartlaub 6-25. Davis 7-19. Crump 2-1. VanCampen 1 (-)4.
Individual Receiving: RL, Jones 6-55. Frye 2-25. Favorito 3-24. Uberti 1-12. SW, Moore 1-61. Shaw 2-29. Crump 1-10.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com