Riding a two-game winning streak, Northern Lebanon faced a tall task hosting the undefeated Lancaster Catholic Crusaders.
The Vikings would play hard, but the Crusaders would come out with a 34-13 win.
“It was a slow start to get things rolling in the first half,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Jason Rice. “Once we found ways to move the ball, we were further able to execute, and came out ripping and roaring, I thought, offensively in the second half.”
“I’m proud of them (for) putting points on the board,” said Rice.
The Viking defense would be tested on the Crusaders opening drive as Lancaster Catholic running back Elijah Cunningham pounded the Viking D. The Crusaders marched 70 yards, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Cunningham for the early 7-0 lead.
Northern Lebanon’s first drive stalled and resulted in a punt. Lancaster Catholic again would pound the Viking front seven with Cunningham.
“They have a really good running back one of the better running backs we faced this year he runs hard,” said Viking linebacker Luke Shaffer.
Shaffer anchored the Viking defense accounting for 13.5 tackles in the contest despite constantly taking on blockers.
“They brought their center to me, which I had to get off their block, which normally does not happen,” said Shaffer.
Northern Lebanon would find success running the ball on their second drive, but on fourth down and two yards to go, quarterback Kael Erdman was unable to connect with wideout Moises Gonzalez and the ball would turn over on downs.
The Crusaders would take advantage, racing down the field and scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass to RJ Gonzalez, pushing the score to 14-0 LC.
The Vikings would respond with their best drive of the first half. Erdman would find Gonzalez on a 17-yard catch and run. Shaffer would also catch a 20-yard pass. Northern Lebanon moved the ball down to the Lancaster Catholic 26, but the Crusaders would intercept an Erdman pass ending the Viking scoring chance.
Shaffer and the Viking defense would again take the field trying to stop the Crusaders.
“Without a doubt, our defense is the strongest part of our team and Luke is the headliner,” said Rice. “The guy just finds away to navigate throughout the field, shed blocks and makes plays when it’s required of him and guys just really feed off that.”
Despite the defensive effort, Lancaster Catholic would score just before halftime on Brandon Way’s 9-yard run, bringing the score to 20-0 at the half.
After halftime the Vikings offense started to gain traction going 58 yards on their first scoring drive of the night. Junior Myles Watson rumbled in from 14 yards out to put Northern Lebanon on the board.
“We ran the ball fairly well I felt tonight probably more so in the second half,” said Rice. “The more we’re able to establish dominance on the line of scrimmage, the more we’re going to be able to open our whole playbook.”
The Crusaders would score twice in the second half.
Northern Lebanon would get their second touchdown of the night on a 7-yard pass to Brady Ryan.
Moises Gonzalez would lead the Vikings rushing for 90 yards on four carries. Meanwhile quarterback Erdman was 8-16 for 98 yards and a touchdown. He would also run five times for 28 yards.
“Moises played a great game on offense and the defensive side of the ball,” said Shaffer. “Also, Kael had a pretty good game running the ball. Normally, he’s not known for being a running quarterback. He used his legs to our advantage tonight.”
Northern Lebanon will be on the road next week as they take on Schuylkill Valley.
Northern Lebanon Vikings
Head Coach: Jason Rice
Assistant Coaches: Mark Rice, Josh Thompson, John Heisey, Josh Wolfe, Rusty Wallace, Hunter Wallace, Collin Wall
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