Reporting from Western PA – The “Quarterback Cradle”
Friday night’s first round WPIAL-2A Football Playoff match-up between the evenly matched host #8 Neshannock Lancers and the #9 Burgettstown Blue Devils lived up to its billing. Going down to the last seconds, this game was an old-fashioned “barn burner.” The Lancers started things off on their home Bob Bleggi Field with a commanding display of a familiar college style offense taught by former University of Kansas head coach and local football icon, Coach Mark Mangino. The Lancers gave their play makers the ball in open space using perimeter screens, fly sweeps, and read-option plays with run-pass options. Burgettstown initially did not have an answer as Lancers QB Seth Fehrs and RBs Anthony Dovidio and Joey Nerti slashed through the Blue Devils defense with ease. Fehrs added an impressive TD pass to WR Jared Staph later in the first quarter for a commanding 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter though, Burgettstown senior QB Ryan Lounder impressed. Employing a pro-style offense alternating Lounder under-center and from shotgun, the Blue Devils marched the field using ball control to eat-up the clock, keeping Neshannock’s potent offense off of the field. The Blue Devils closed the gap before halftime with a Ryan Lounder TD run following an Austin Safreed interception of an ill-advised pass by Lancers QB Fehrs deep in Blue Devils territory.
The second half brought more of a “street fight” to the game with both teams scrapping hard for yardage and points. The Lancers took the lead in the 3rd quarter, but the Blue Devils answered with a TD strike from Lounder to WR Jarred John. The Blue Devils then took control of the game early in the 4th quarter with another TD strike from Lounder to RB Cyle Conley. Neshannock equalized the match with a Fehrs TD run and K Tristan Tuck’s PAT. Curiously they did not go for a 2-point conversion to take the lead when Burgettstown had jumped offsides moving the Lancers up to the 1 and ½ yardline. After the ensuing kickoff, the Blue Devils closed the deal. Lounder impressed with accurate passing strikes to John and WR Ryan Villano. He extended plays like a pro by working up and sliding in the pocket showing great poise and downfield vision while under tremendous pressure from the Lancers defense. With under a minute left in the game the Blue Devils marched the field, and then lined up a 37-yard field goal for WR Seth Phillis who was “nails” all night making every PAT before kicking the game winner.
Next up for Burgettstown are the #1 Steel Valley Ironmen.
CHECK OUT some cut-up highlights BELOW!