TURBOTVILLE — The Warrior Run football program and its fans had been waiting 61 years for this moment and the senior-laden 2019 edition of the Defenders did not disappoint the home crowd on Friday night.
Warrior Run earned the No. 4 seed in the District 4 Class 3A playoffs with a 6-4 record during the regular season which afforded the Defenders the opportunity to host the program’s first-ever home playoff game.
The Defenders did not allow an offensive point to No. 5 Lewisburg and used a smothering defensive front to hold the Green Dragons to just 153 total yards of offense in a convincing 28-7 victory, the first-ever in school history.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable what these kids have worked for this year,” Warrior Run head coach Chris Long said. “We kind of used it as an extra week of practice last year, to play Danville in the playoffs and I think we really built off of that. Our defense played great, the feeling is just unbelievable. This is what our goals was before the start of the season, to win a playoff game, and we’ve accomplished that now and I’m just so proud of the kids, especially the seniors that we have, to accomplish something like this. And we got a chance to do it at home which makes it even that much better.”
The defense set the tone early as senior defensive end Ahmahd Keyes tracked down Lewisburg quarterback Nick Shedleski and laid a ferocious hit from behind which jarred the ball loose. The fumble was picked up by Garrick Grady and though the Defenders did not come away with points on the drive, the tone for the evening had been set.
Warrior run forced a three-and-out on Lewisburg’s next possession and Nick Shedleski’s punt went off the side of his foot and only traveled 15 yards to the Green Dragons’ 31 before it went out of bounds.
Five plays later, Denver Beachel plowed in from five yards away out of the Wildcat formation with the first points of the game. Warrior Run tried to go for two, but the Defenders were called for an illegal shift which pushed the ball back to the 8. Warrior Run kicker Logan Witmer then converted the 25-yard point after and the Defenders led 7-0 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.
Warrior Run extended its lead on a controversial play at 7:30 of the second quarter when Remington Corderman lobbed a ball toward the end zone on a broken play in the direction of senior tight end Tyler Pick. As the ball hung in the air, Lewisburg defensive back Cam Michaels got his head around in time to make a play on the ball. Pick and Michaels both looked to have their hands on the ball as they landed and the two wrestled over the pigskin while falling into the end zone. When both bodies hit the ground, Michaels landed on top of Pick and the ball popped loose. Though it looked as if possession was never clearly established by either player, the referee on the near sideline indicated a touchdown for Warrior Run.
The call sent the home crowd into a frenzy and the Lewisburg sideline into an uproar. The Defenders then lined up quickly and went for two, but were stopped on the play. Still, the questionable call led to a two-touchdown lead for Warrior Run and created a hole that the Green Dragons were unable to climb out of later in the game.
“That one particular play didn’t change the outcome of the game, but you don’t know if it led to a chain of events,” Lewisburg head coach Marc Persing said. “That’s just the way the calls went and we didn’t do a good enough job of responding to adversity.”
The Green Dragons did respond defensively on Warrior Run’s next possession as Owen Ordonez short through the line and popped Corderman who lost the ball as he went to the ground. Ethan Spaulding scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 65 yards for Lewisburg’s only score of the night. Following a Logan Moore extra point, Lewisburg trailed 13-7 with 2:20 left in the first half.
The Defenders, as they showed all night, had the answer just 1:12 later when Corderman hit Daubert for a 42-yard touchdown with 1:08 remaining in the half. The catch gave Daubert the school record for receiving yards, breaking the mark of 1,767 yards which was previously held by Justin Brouse. The score also tied Brouse’s record for receiving touchdowns in a career with 18, a record Daubert would break on a 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the third quarter.
“He’s bought in, he’s played well, he’s great on both sides of the football, just a tremendous night for him,” Long said.
Each time the Green Dragons tried to mount an offensive drive, the Warrior Run defense had the answer. Keyes and fellow defensive end Pete Reasner combined for four the team’s five sacks and each forced a fumble. Keyes looked to have his third sack of the night and second forced fumble of the evening late in the game when he tracked down Shedleski again, but the play was ruled intentional grounding and a turnover on downs. The call drew the ire of Shedleski who said something to the officials as he walked off the field and was ejected with 2:26 remaining in the contest.
The frustration Keyes and Company handed out was not just limited to Shedleski as they held the Lewisburg running game to just 53 yards on 25 carries.
It was a dominant performance, one which Keyes said he and his teammates have been dreaming of since they began to play football together 10 years ago.
“This is something that my teammates and I have dreamed of since we all started playing together in second grade,” Keyes said. “It’s something we talked about every day this season, to be able to win our first playoff game in school history. Just to bring it home for my family and my teammates, it meant so much to us. We’ve always pictured this moment in our heads and we’ve worked every single day for it, for years. It’s just such a special moment.”
Warrior Run advances to the District 4 Class 3A semifinals and will face No. 1 Montoursville next week. Still, Keyes believes that if he and his teammates continue to approach their practice and preparation the same way they did heading into the Lewisburg game, anything is possible.
“Even though we’re going to celebrate tonight, we’re going to have a tough opponent next week,” Keyes said. “They’re ranked in the state, we’re going to have to come out even harder next week. All it takes is one stop, one play and we build off that. We pick each other up and we believe in each other so much, we know that anything can happen as long as we continue to do that.”
Warrior Run 28, Lewisburg 7
District 4 Class 3A quarterfinals
at Warrior Run
No. 4 Warrior Run (7-4) 7 14 7 0—28No. 5 Lewisburg(5-6) 0 7 0 0—7Scoring summaryFirst quarter
WR—Denver Beachel 5 run (Logan Witmer kick), 3:34
WR—Tyler Pick 31 pass from Remington Corderman (2-pt failed), 7:30 LEW—Ethan Spaulding 65 fumble return (Logan Moore kick), 2:20 WR—Riley Daubert 42 pass from Corderman (Corderman to Daubert, 2pt pass), 1:08
WR—Daubert 65 pass from Corderman (Witmer kick), 2:50
Team Statistics WR Lew
First downs 11 9 Rushes-yards 31-92 35-53 Passing yards 209 100 Comp.-att.-Int. 8-13-0 9-22-1 Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2 Penalties-yards 8-71 5-55 Sacks-yards lost 1-4 5-40
Individual statisticsRushing: Warrior Run: Beachel, 14-31 TD; Hoyt Bower, 12-31; Daubert, 1-4; Corderman, 2-22; David Gearhart, 1-4. Lewisburg:
Ethan Dominick, 12-14; Nick Shedleski, 19-(-4); Cam Michaels, 2-31; Gavin Sheriff, 1-1; Spaulding, 1-4.
Passing: Warrior Run: Corderman, 8-12-208 3 TD; Beachel, 0-1. Lewisburg:
Shedleski, 9-22-100 INT.
Receiving: Warrior Run: Daubert, 4-148 2 TD; Pick, 1-31 TD; Beachel, 1-17; Ahmahd Keyes, 1-11; Bower, 1-2. Lewisburg:
Dominick, 3-38; Simeon Beiler, 1-11; Spaulding, 3-23, Jackson Landis, 2-28.
Sacks: Warrior Run (5): Pete Reasner 2, Keyes 2, Bower. Lewisburg:
INT: Warrior Run: Gearhart.