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LHU falls on final play

Written by: on Monday, October 22nd, 2012

BILL ALBRIGHT

WesternPAFootball.net Senior Writer

LOCK HAVEN – For the Lock Haven University football team, Saturday’s PSAC-West confrontation with Clarion ended in an almost, but yet so far away scenario.

You could classify it as close, but no cigar, or you might just label it as the one that just slipped away. But regardless of how you refer to it, it was a tough pill for the Bald Eagle team to swallow.

Battling back from a 10-point deficit (14-24) with five minutes left in the third period, the Bald Eagles scored two touchdowns to take a 28-24 lead with 1:26 remaining in the game.

However, as fate would have it for LHU, the Golden Eagles, behind the arm of quarterback Ben Fiscus, marched 87 yards down the field to a first-and-goal on the LHU 3-yard line with 2.3 seconds showing on the clock.

After calling a timeout, Fiscus took the snap, and under heavy pressure from the LHU front four, bought some time with a scramble before turning in yet another of his Houdini acts by finding tight end Anthony Becoate all alone in the corner of the end zone for the game winner to set the final at Clarion 30, Lock Haven 28, as time expired.

Prior to the game-winner, Fiscus engineered big plays with completions of 24 yards to Nick Perry and 32 yards to Aaron Barlow. For the day, the Clarion gunslinger finished with 324 yards and three touchdowns.

“Those last two throws he made were tough,” said LHU head coach John Allen. “The defense did a good job of keeping him corralled back there, but he kept scrambling and the kid (Barlow) made a heckuva catch. We had good coverage, but he just made a great play. Then on the last one we just lost the tight end. He (Fiscus) scrambled out and scrambled out again and made a tough throw back against the grain.”

Despite the hard-luck loss, Allen liked what he saw from his young Eagle gridders.

“They (Clarion) are a good team, he (Fiscus) is a good player and we knew that going in,” Allen said. “But I thought our team played really well. They battled back throughout the entire game, they fought through adversity a little bit and played well. What are you going to do?”

Facing the 10-point deficit, the Bald Eagles, behind the leadership of quarterback Jarrett Kratzer, put together a pair of scoring drives. For the game, Kratzer threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns.

The first march was set up by an outstanding interception by George Christas as he brought to a screeching halt a Clarion drive at the LHU 11 with an interception. Making the most of his “pick”, Christas bobbed and weaved his way down the field to the Clarion 21.

“We didn’t make all the big plays we could have in the game, but we did have some today, said Allen. “When you have the opportunity to make a play, you have to capitalize on it. We had a couple of great picks of which George’s was the last one that he turned into a great, long return to set up the score. It was up and down and we want to execute a little better, but the kids played hard. We made some mistakes, but we also made some great plays as well. It was a great effort by our team and we just came up a little short.”

Three plays later, Kratzer hit Ian Smith with an 18-yard scoring pass, Noah Heimer tacked on the PAT, and in just 59 seconds, the Bald Eagles had cut their deficit to 21-24.

Desperately needing a score to put themselves in a position to win the game, that is exactly what the Bald Eagles got as they marched 88 yards on just six plays for the touchdown.

Four of the big plays in the march were back-to-back runs of 16 and 19 yards by Brandon Brader, a Kratzer-to-Jerome Charles pass covering 14 yards and a 12-yard run to the Clarion 32 by freshman Beau Swales.

Following a 10-yard walkoff against the Golden Eagles for holding, Kratzer picked out Jesse Hoover in the corner of the end zone, and Hoover made a circus catch for the score. Heimer was again good from placement, and with only 1:26 remaining in the game, the Bald Eagles had again taken the lead at 28-24.

“That was a huge drive for us because we knew we had to go down the field in a four-minute offense and score,” said Allen. “I looked at the clock and I felt we were OK as far as time was concerned and I knew we couldn’t wait much longer. We took a shot and ‘Hooves’ came up with a great catch for the touchdown. It was just a great drive, especially with what has been going with us offensively for the past couple of weeks. It was just a good all-around series for us to be able to go down, go up and put ourselves in a position to be ahead in the end.”

Unfortunately for LHU, Fiscus had other ideas with 86 ticks of the clock remaining in the game.

Needing a touchdown to win the game, that is exactly what Fiscus and Company got as the junior quarterback led his team down the field to set up the final play of the game.

Allen has been looking for a big play on special teams to ignite his Bald Eagles, and Bernie Smack gave that to Allen and his troops as he took the opening kickoff of the game back 88 yards for a score.

Noah Heimer’s PAT was good, and just 12 seconds into the game, the Bald Eagles held a 7-0 lead.

“That got it going for us right off the bat, it really did,” said Allen of the special teams play. “It was a great start to the game and it got everybody into the game right away and it was fun from there. It took us a little bit offensively to settle in to what they were doing because they gave us a different look than those we had seen in previous weeks. It was just a fun game and that opening return sort of just kicked it off for us.”

After the two teams exchanged possessions, the Golden Eagles went to work. They scored 17 unanswered points on a Fiscus-to-Becoate 11-yard scoring pass, a 28-yard field goal by Conway and a Fiscus-to-Rob Irwin TD toss of 17 yards.

Two series later and forced into a punting situation, the Bald Eagles tried a fake punt play, and it backfired to give Clarion the ball on the LHU 45. However, rising to the occasion, the Haven defense held the Golden Eagles short of the end zone on a fourth down run, Tyrek Morgan making the bone-crushing tackle on Clarion tailback Bobby Thomas.

Obviously aroused watching the defense spend a lot of time on the field, the Bald Eagle offense brought the crowd alive as quarterback Kratzer hooked up with a familiar face in Jesse Hoover for a 60-yard catch-and-run for a LHU touchdown. Heimer made it 17-14 Clarion with two minutes left in the first half.

After the two clubs took turns slugging it out with each other for the first nine minutes of the third quarter, the back-breaker showed up for LHU as the Bald Eagles lost a fumble on their own 31.

Breaking several tackles along the way, Travis Day took the ball to the house on the first play following the turnover. Conway’s PAT made it 24-14.

Following Day’s TD jaunt, it appeared as though Clarion might be in position to put the dagger into the Bald Eagles as they blocked their third punt of the game. However, the Bald Eagles had something to say about that situation as they scored their pair of touchdowns to regain the lead (28-24) before losing the game on the final play of the contest.

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