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Loyalsock holds off Troy in thriller 36-35

Tagged under: District 4, Gameday Hub, News

| October 22, 2022

Loyalsock had just taken a big right uppercut right to the jaw. One play after they appeared to have iced the game for good after a fumble by Troy on a squib kick that was recovered by the Lancers, Troy’s defense forced a fumble and Clayton Smith picked it up and ran it 50 yards in for a touchdown, and all of a sudden the Loyalsock lead was just 36-35 with 2:57 remaining in the game.

And, despite the strong kicking of Justice Chimics, the Trojans decided to go for two. They had been successful earlier in the 4th quarter on a two-point conversion run by fullback Kael Millard to the right, and the game would likely be decided on this play.

But a year after Troy ran for 562 yards against Loyalsock on the Lancers’ home field, it was time for the Sock defense to stand tall. The interior defensive line forced Millard’s fullback dive try to the outside, and defensive back Jalen Andrews cleaned it up a yard and a half short and Loyalsock had the stop they needed with less than three minutes to go as they won an absolute humdinger of a football game, 36-35 Friday night.

“We trusted each other even after a mistake which it’s not on any one person. We blame it on the team and it’s a team effort. So we’ll just go out there trusting each other and just not giving up on any play even just a two-point conversion,” senior captain linebacker Cy Cavanaugh said. “The linemen all did their job, they made a pile to force it outside and Jalen Andrews made a huge play coming up and making an amazing tackle. I’m so happy for him.”

And that trust is something that head coach Justin Van Fleet says this team has that manyother Lancer teams have not in the past.

“Part of the biggest issue that we had, in any of our crises in the past was we’re missing a major element and that was trust. Trusting each other to do your jobs, hold to the scheme, recognize that everyone’s fighting just as hard as you are, and that we all just have to do our jobs and we added that last element of trust this year and it’s a very fragile concept. Because one thing happens, another thing happens, and you can lose it. And we had times and we’ve had times this season, just like any program, where that becomes fragile. And I was very, very impressed with the guys today in the way they’ve handled some adversity very recently,” Van Fleet said.

There was some adversity for Loyalsock before kickoff last night, as star running back Davion Hill missed the first quarter due to disciplinary action. But, according to his coaches and teammates, Hill handled the situation like a man. And, he played like one too. Hill was unstoppable on Friday evening. He had 22 carries for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground and three receptions for 91 yards. It wasn’t just the stats, though. When the lights were brightest and Loyalsock needed a play, Hill was always there in what is arguably his best scholastic game to date.

“It definitely was a tough feeling sitting on the sideline while my teammates are out there battling. I had disciplinary issues this week and all the guys just had my back throughout the whole week telling me everything was good, be you stay ready, and just telling me we’re going to learn from this and keep rolling. So me sitting on the sideline, I knew they had my back. So just them having my back, they could have left me in and said forget this, but they stayed having my back and I just wanted to come in and fight for them,” Hill said.

And, after Troy blocked a punt and scored on a five-yard Clayton Smith run with 10:49 left in the first half to start the scoring, Hill finally took the field on offense and was an instant difference maker as the Lancer offense started to move the ball. But, they faced a crucial 4th and 12 from the Trojan 35. There, quarterback Tyler Gee made his best play of the game. The all-state junior dropped back and escaped pressure rolling left. He saw top target Jayden Andrews cutting across the middle from left to right and Gee fired in a perfect strike. Andrews caught it in stride and outran the Trojan defense another 15 yards to the end zone to tie the game at 7 midway through the 2nd quarter.

But, Troy’s special teams struck again as Charles Oldroyd returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and Troy led 14-7.

Once again, though, the Lancer offense got to work. Gee and Hill alternated carries on a drive that was all runs, and they capped off the drive with two strange plays. Both times, the shotgun snap hit gee in the shoulder pads, and fortuitously bounced right to Hill in the backfield. The first one was a huge 18 yard gain, and the second a one-yard touchdown as Loyalsock tied the score at 14.

They looked like they took the lead on the final play of the first half, as Gee scrambled around and found Gage Patterson wide open from 49 yards out on a Hail Mary. But the play was called back for holding and it went to half, 14-14.

Loyalsock played their best stretch of football in that third quarter. After forcing a Trojan 3-and-out, it was Davion Hill time. Hill was the only Loyalsock player to touch the ball on their opening drive of the 2nd half, and his five runs for 55 yards on the drive resulted in pay dirt when he turned a play that looked stopped into a 24-yard touchdown down the right side and Loyalsock led, 21-14.

Once again, Troy went three-and-out, and once again the Lancers went back to the ground game. Hill led off the drive with a 40-yard run, and a few plays later had a highlight run down the right sideline on a 3rd and 8 play for a 37-yard touchdown and all of a sudden, Loyalsock was in firm control of the football game up 28-14.

Troy would answer back with a touchdown and a stop and drove down to the Lancer 26-yard line, facing a crucial 4th and 3 with ten minutes to go in the football game. Loyalsock had quarterback Evan Woodward stopped in the backfield as he ran inside veer, but Woodward broke the tackle and scampered in for a touchdown, followed up by Millard’s two-point conversion. Just like that, Loyalsock found themselves down 29-28.

And, after another highlight play by Hill, a 47-yard reception on a screen pass, the Lancers got deep into Trojan territory. But, the Troy defense made what looked to be the play of the game when they stopped Hill trying to leap over the pile on 4th and 1 just inches short, and all of a sudden it was clearly Troy’s game to lose.

But, these Lancers are a tough bunch, and they showed it. The defense forced a quick three-and-out and gave it back to the Loyalsock offense at the Lancer 47 with 6:03 remaining in the football game, Troy leading 29-28.

The Lancer offense went to work. And got it down to the Troy 29 where they faced a crucial 4th and 4. Once again, they called Hill’s number as Tyler Gee rolled out to the right and found Hill in the flat. Hill caught it and turned upfield and took it all the way to the four-yard line and they had first and goal. Tyler Gee ran it in on the next play, and he found Gage Patterson for the two-point conversion as Sock led 36-29.

“We usually throw on third and fourth down. So when we went for it on fourth and I thought we were gonna take the bomb, so when (head coach Justin Van Fleet) called my number I definitely had to refocus and lock in and execute the play to perfection,”

That set up the aforementioned fumble and score by Troy. But after the failed two-point conversion, Loyalsock recovered an onside kick, gained one first down, and kneed the ball out for a win.

“I’m all in with these guys. You know, it’s a difficult way to coach because your heart sounds silly, but it’s the way I do it. It’s why at this point, I have less hair on my head. I’ve got gray in my beard popping out in my hair. And man my first year of pictures I was very good-looking. And so it’s certainly an approach that we’ve taken and we absolutely do love each other. You know that’s it’s a powerful thing that you know, there’s no group but I’d want to be with these guys, I’ve said that from day one. I continue to say that today, regardless of wins and losses, regardless of anything else. These are the guys we’re riding with and we’re together as a group. It’s not me with my team. We’re a group. We’re all here together working our tails off every day, finding ways to move forward and I’m proud of them for that, and I’m also proud to be a part of it, being the head coach of the team. Oftentimes that seems separate but in this environment, it’s definitely not we’re a unit not just coaching but the players as well that you know, we fight like dogs together in scrap and claw and it’s a beautiful thing right now,” Van Fleet said.

Loyalsock improves to 8-1 and plays Montoursville for The Battle of the Bridge next week as they look to bring back the Bridge for the first time since 2017. Troy (8-1) will play Canton (8-1) for the Old Shoe and the NTL title next week.

“We were just talking, it’s been five years since we had it. There’s one big goal bringing that back and we’ve had that circled on the calendar for months now. And I think we’re ready to bring it back. We’re excited for next week,” Cavanaugh said.

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