Even if it was momentary, some much needed competitiveness was injected into the historic series. But in the end, the result was very typical.
And in this important rivalry, results are all they remember.
On a mild Thursday night at Ed and Jeannie Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium, Cedar Crest once again dominated Lebanon, 49-6, in the 51st renewal of the annual Cedar Bowl football game. Lebanon scored first and led 6-0 for 7:37 of game clock, before the Falcons flexed their muscles, asserted themselves and tallied the rivalry’s final 49 points.
The contest served as the regular-season finale for both sides.
Cedar Crest has now won 11 straight games over the Cedars and leads the all-time Cedar Bowl series 35-15-1. Lebanon’s last triumph in the famed series came in 2011.
But the victory also moved the Falcons to 8-2 on the year and all but assured them a spot in the upcoming District Three Class AAAAAA playoffs. In the latest District Three power rankings, Cedar Crest was positioned eighth in an AAAAAA classification which takes eight teams for its postseason tournament.
A District Three playoff berth would represent Cedar Crest’s fourth in the last 10 years.
The loss concluded Lebanon’s third straight winless campaign. The Cedars have dropped 32 straight contests overall dating back to the 2020 campaign.
“Coming in, I thought we were the better team,” said Cedar Crest head coach Rob Wildasin. “Obviously, you want to win, but you also want the games to be good games. Honestly, tonight was a competitive game at the beginning.
“It’s a capper on the season,” Wildasin continued. “It was an emotional night. It’s a win for the seniors on their last time on this field. It’s a culmination of a lot of work, by the staff and players and families. We’ve been all-in for a long time. It shows in many ways.”
“No, the rivalry is not doing well,” said Lebanon head coach Frank Isenberg. “It’s definitely a rivalry because of the community and the kids. But Cedar Crest has had our number for the last 12 years. Until we knock them off, it’s not much of a rivalry.”
The Cedars were extremely competitive early and were trailing just 7-6 when they drove 81 yards in 10 plays to the Cedar Crest five-yard line. But it was at that point that the momentum switched noticeably and decisively in the Falcons’ favor, thanks to Owen Chernich’s interception in the end zone.
Chernich’s pick sparked an eight-play, 80-yard Cedar Crest march that resulted in Chernich catching a seven-yard scoring strike from quarterback Jackson Custer. The Falcons enjoyed a 14-6 advantage in the locker room and were never seriously headed in the second half of action.
“Owen’s interception was huge,” said Wildasin. “We just weren’t settled in. If he hadn’t made that play, it could’ve been different. We could see it coming. Once we got to halftime, I could see it.”
“We had a turnover in the first half,” said Isenberg of the turning point. “We had some kids go down with cramps. Losing Malachi Briddell in the second half hurt.”
Seven minutes into the game, Lebanon pounced on a fumble deep in Cedar Crest territory and turned it into a 6-0 advantage. Lebanon quarterback Paul Trace hit Briddell with a 13-yard touchdown toss.
“We just weren’t settled in,” said Wildasin. “They (the Cedars) came out and played very well at the start. We knew they would. We took a punch and kept playing, and we handled our business.”
“In the first half we battled,” said Isenberg. “Cedar Crest is a tough team, and the rivalry game was a motivator. In the second half, there was a little bit of attrition. Cedar Crest played well. They ran the ball successfully in the second half. But yes, absolutely, that was our best first half of the season.”
The Falcons emerged from the halftime locker room and really took it to the Cedars, mostly on the ground. Cedar Crest notched three touchdowns in a span of 6:03 in the third quarter to push its lead to 36-6.
Fernando Marquez scored twice and running mate Alex Abreu once, all on short bursts.
Chernich’s third touchdown of the evening, a minute into the final period, made it 43-6 and brought the mercy rule into play.
“If you told me at the beginning of the season we’d go 8-2, I’m taking it,” said Wildasin. “We played one team that has an enrollment smaller than ours. It was all uphill battles. I’m proud of our guys.
“It’s a good season. It’s one to be proud of,” added Wildasin. “It was one of the best seasons in Cedar Crest history. It wasn’t too long ago that this wasn’t a competitive program. It’s a cliché but we stayed healthy and kept getting better at practice. I’ve seen the progress.”
Cedar Crest out gained Lebanon 408 total yards to 77. Marquez carried 15 times for 135 rushing yards, while Abreu added 14 totes and 56 yards on the ground.
In addition to his three touchdowns, Chernich also had a pair of interceptions.
“This senior class has endured a lot,” said Isenberg. “There’s definitely a lot of positives to the season, but it’s a long road ahead. Our quarterback (Trace) was so unselfish. He wasn’t a quarterback; he was a receiver. But he did what we asked him to do.”
Cedar Bowl History
2023 – Cedar Crest 49, Lebanon 6
2022 – Cedar Crest 47, Lebanon 0
2021 – Cedar Crest 38, Lebanon 0
2020 – COVID-19
2019 – Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 6
2018 – Cedar Crest 42, Lebanon 1
2017 – Cedar Crest 42, Lebanon 14
2016 – Cedar Crest 26, Lebanon 14
2015 – Cedar Crest 41, Lebanon 7
2014 – Cedar Crest 38, Lebanon 24
2013 – Cedar Crest 40, Lebanon 24
2012 – Cedar Crest 67, Lebanon 0
2011 – Lebanon 47, Cedar Crest 14
2010 – Lebanon 35, Cedar Crest 7
2009 – Cedar Crest 33, Lebanon 14
2008 — Lebanon 39, Cedar Crest 7
2007 — Cedar Crest 30, Lebanon 19
2006 — Lebanon 28, Cedar Crest 7
2005 — Lebanon 14, Cedar Crest 13
2004 — Cedar Crest 34, Lebanon 7
2003 — Lebanon 29, Cedar Crest 24
2002 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 7
2001 — Cedar Crest 42, Lebanon 24
2000 — Cedar Crest 39, Lebanon 6
1999 — Cedar Crest 42, Lebanon 6
1998 — Cedar Crest 63, Lebanon 21
1997 — Cedar Crest 49, Lebanon 12
1996 — Lebanon 41, Cedar Crest 6
1995 — Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 0
1994 — Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 0
1993 — Cedar Crest 35, Lebanon 20
1992 — Lebanon 7, Cedar Crest 0
1991 — Cedar Crest 20, Lebanon 14
1990 — Lebanon 35, Cedar Crest 31
1989 — Lebanon 13, Cedar Crest 6
1988 — Lebanon 0, Cedar Crest 0
1987 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 6
1986 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 0
1985 — Cedar Crest 28, Lebanon 23
1984 — Lebanon 23, Cedar Crest 7
1983 — Cedar Crest 14, Lebanon 7
1982 — Cedar Crest 23, Lebanon 0
1981 — Lebanon 15, Cedar Crest 9
1980 — Cedar Crest 15, Lebanon 13
1979 — Cedar Crest 34, Lebanon 0
1978 — Lebanon 14, Cedar Crest 0
1977 — Cedar Crest 20, Lebanon 8
1976 — Lebanon 14, Cedar Crest 6
1975 — Cedar Crest 32, Lebanon 14
1974 — Cedar Crest 39, Lebanon 8
1973 — Lebanon 22, Cedar Crest 0
1972 — Cedar Crest 15, Lebanon 13
Note: Cedar Crest leads the all-time series 35-15-1
Cedar Crest Falcons
Head Coach: Rob Wildasin
Assistant Coaches: Nick Lambros, Brandon Kirsch, Brian Powers, Tom Gerhart, Shawn Rambler, Tom Waranavage, Logan Horn, Jona Padilla, Nevin Pagan, Bob Peebles, Bob Griffiths, Gary Wildasin
|1||Leo Tirado Jr.||12||WR/DB|
Head Coach: Frank Isenberg
Assistant Coaches: Greg Herr, Tyler Roth, Jason Capello, Nathan Myers
|26||Jesucristo Echevarria Figueroa||WR/LB||Junior|
|70||Elis Bentez Jimenez||OL/DL||Sophomore|
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