Red Lion wins second-half battle against Chambersburg, 26-21, behind a pair of 80-yard touchdowns. ROB ROSE, @robrosesports
Red Lion junior wide receiver Davante Dennis caught three passes on Friday night.
One went for two yards, another lost two yards and the third gave his team a 26-21 victory over Chambersburg in front of a raucous Lions’ crowd.
With four minutes left in the game and the Lions trailing, Dennis caught a short pass from senior quarterback Nic Shultz near the left sideline. After breaking the tackle of one Trojan defender, the 6-foot-5 Dennis spun off a pair of would-be tacklers and sprinted down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown that gave Red Lion (3-0) the lead for good in a back-and-forth contest.
The long touchdown by Dennis was one of three scores of at least 80 yards in the contest.
Needed a spark: After a first half that only saw seven points scored — with Chambersburg (2-1) up by a touchdown at the break — the offenses showed up in the second half.
Red Lion scored all 26 of its points after the break and seemed to have an answer for every punch that Chambersburg threw back.
“We knew we could do it, it just took that extra spark,” junior wide receiver Randy Fizer said.
That spark the Lions needed was provided by Shultz, Fizer and Red Lion coach Jesse Shay.
On Red Lion’s first drive after halftime, the offense stared down a fourth down from its own 11-yard line when Shay decided to make a bold call.
Shultz, who also serves as the team’s punter, rolled to his right with the ball appearing to line up a punt, but instead fired a pass to Fizer, who took off down the sideline for an 86-yard score.
Fizer said he and the offense weren't nervous to try a trick play so deep in their own territory because of how often they work on the play during the week.
“We rep it so many times in practice it just feels so natural to do it,” Fizer said. “I just got my chance today and Nic threw a beautiful ball.”
Shay added that his faith in the players and coaches made the choice easy for him. And that either way, the players aren’t the ones to blame if it went wrong.
“I trust my guys,” Shay said. “If it works, they did a great job. If it doesn’t work, I screwed it up.”
That touchdown pass was the first of what became an unstoppable connection between Fizer and Shultz.
On the same page: The senior quarterback had his best passing performance this year with 287 yards and four touchdown passes, three of which went to his top receiver. To go along with three touchdowns, Fizer had eight catches for 190 yards and added an interception for good measure.
Despite the elite passing offense Red Lion had in the second half, Chambersburg had its own big plays to offer.
Two drives after Fizer scored his third touchdown and put the Lions up, 20-14, the Trojans had their own back-breaking score that grabbed the momentum. Chambersburg running back Keyshawn Jones ran through the Red Lion defense for a 54-yard touchdown that sent the Trojans’ fans in attendance into a frenzy.
The next play from scrimmage was Dennis’ 80-yard score.
Keeping their cool: In a game with so many momentum swings, Shay said he leaned on his experience coaching for 18 years to first calm himself down and then his team. He added that they key to maintaining focus and not getting caught up in the emotions of the game is for the players to lock in on their responsibilities and not the score.
“Don’t worry about scoring a touchdown, worry about making your mark on the next play,” Shay said.
Fizer was proud of the effort the team gave and said the 3-0 start for the Lions was a confidence booster for the team as Division I play begins next week against Central York (2-1).
After taking down a talented Trojans squad filled with seniors at key positions, Fizer believes the Lions are ready to compete with any team in the league.
“When we do what we do and trust each other, no one can stop us,” Fizer said.
Chambersburg 7 0 7 7 21
Red Lion 0 0 20 6 26
1-yard run by Brady Stumbaugh (Tyler Luther kick)
Nic Shultz 86-yard touchdown pass to Randy Fizer (Hunter Throne kick)
Nic Shultz 29-yard touchdown pass to Randy Fizer
Brady Stumbaugh 86-yard touchdown pass to Tyeshawn Worrell (Tyler Luther kick)
Nic Shultz 25-yard touchdown pass to Randy Fizer (Hunter Throne kick)
54-yard touchdown run by Keyshawn Jones (Tyler Luther kick)
Nic Shultz 80-yard touchdown pass to Davante Dennis
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.