By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
SUSQUEHANNA – Lackawanna Trail had the answer for Susquehanna’s game-opening scoring drive.
In fact, the Lions had several of them.
Lackawanna Trail ripped off a series of big plays to take control of the game on the way to a comfortable, 42-7 victory in the Lackawanna Football Conference opener Saturday afternoon.
The Division 4 game was the first divisional game played within the LFC this season.
Lackawanna Trail scored on a punt return, a pair of two-play possessions and another that lasted just three plays.
“They did catch us playing a little slow there, so we tightened things down, played a lot faster and hit a lot harder,” said Kody Cresswell, who ran for three touchdowns.
The Lions ran just 33 offensive plays, but 5 of them went for at least 25 yards and 8 went for at least 17. They averaged more than 10 yards per play for the game to put up points much more efficiently than a Susquehanna offense that produced more first downs and held on to the ball for 29:08 of the game’s 48 minutes.
Hunter Patterson and Cresswell each ran for more than 100 yards while combining for 4 touchdowns. Evan Litwin had two touchdowns, including the 79-yard punt return.
The explosive offense helped settle any anxious moments caused by the opening drive in which sophomore quarterback Colton Stone hit 3 straight passes for 58 yards, then scored on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 Susquehanna lead less than four minutes into the game.
Lackawanna Trail’s offense took care of any uncomfortable thoughts created by that drive.
“Long bus ride and then we’re down seven,” Lions coach Steve Jervis said. “It’s hot and humid, but I do say a lot about our kids’ effort. I say a lot about our kids’ resiliency.
“I’m very appreciative of our kids’ effort. They always play hard.”
Before long, they were playing with the lead.
Owen Lisk hit Johnny Halter deep down the middle on the first Lackawanna Trail offensively play and Cresswell tied the game by scoring from the 4 on the next play.
Lackawanna Trail forced a three-and-out and again scored in two plays to move ahead to stay with 5:05 still left in the first quarter.
Cresswell produced the go-ahead touchdown with a 39-yard run.
The Lions (3-1) had posted their first two wins by shutout.
“I think offensively we kind of helped ourselves out a little bit where the last couple weeks we relied on our defense,” Jervis said.
Susquehanna drove to second-and-eight at the Lackawanna Trail 20 with 8½ minutes left in the half while still within seven points, but the Sabers could not move from there.
The Lions quickly switched ends of the field.
Patterson, who finished with 108 yards on just 5 carries, went 32 yards on the first play of a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Cresswell went 25 yards on the next play and finished the drive with a 2-yard run.
The last two minutes of the half set the Lions up to coast through the second half.
Litwin took a punt 79 yards down the right sideline for a 28-7 lead, which the Lions held when they shook off Jesse DeLousia’s 34-yard run to stop the Sabers at the 27 as time expired.
“I saw my blockers on the right side and I just followed them all the way to the house,” Litwin said. “They made a huge hole for me and I just hit it. I just read them all going that way and just took it right behind them.”
Lackawanna Trail went from holding off Susquehanna scoring threats in the second quarter to pushing the game into the Mercy Rule in the third quarter.
The Lions covered 70 yards on 11 plays in a drive that took the first 6:39 off the clock in the second half.
Litwin scored his second touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Stephen Jervis, floated into the right side of the end zone on third-and-nine.
“Great ball,” Litwin said. “They couldn’t make a play on it; only I could. I just had to watch it down and secure the catch.”
Patterson ran 56 yards for a touchdown on the next third down the Lions faced with 1:45 left in the third.
Cresswell finished with 105 yards on 10 carries.
Halter, Cole Choplosky and Miles Edwards led the Lackawanna Trail defense.
Halter had six tackles and an assist. Choplosky, who had a tackle for a loss, and Edwards each finished with four tackles and three assists.
Stone went 15-for-30 for 134 yards passing for Susquehanna.
“The quarterback’s young, but he’s going to be a good one,” coach Jervis said. “He has a strong arm and their backs run hard.”
Steven Loby led the defense for the Sabers with five tackles and an assist.
The Sabers remained winless with their second straight Mercy Rule loss after opening the season with one- and three-point losses.