Lions edge Ligonier with blocked kick
ARMAGH–Maybe winning is contagious or maybe the United Lions have to face schools with the initials “LV” to win. Whatever it is the Lions recorded their second straight victory, 7-6, over the Mounties Saturday.
Both teams came into the game after recording their first win the previous week (United 9-6 over Laurel Valley and Ligonier 20-12 over Purchase Line).
Both teams would score late, but the Lions were able to come up with the blocked extra point for the win.
The Lions will try to make it three straight Saturday when they host winless Purchase Line.
The Mounties will return home to face winless Penns Manor tonight.
The Mounties continued to have problems moving the ball on the ground, forcing quarterback Matt Crowe to throw the ball 25 times.
Ligonier came into the game averaging 71.3 yards per game, which is last in the Heritage Conference, and was held to 40 yards on 23 attempts.
“We are either not blocking or not sustaining blocks,” said LV Coach Ron Baldoneri. “Our offense was pretty much nonexistent in the second half.”
Despite the lack of offense the Mounties actually had a chance to send the game into overtime, as they scored in the final 1:19 of the game.
After forcing the sixth Lion punt of the game, the Mounties took over on their 42 yard line. Crowe completed a pass to Brock Weaver for no gain on first down.
Then on second down, the two hooked up on a shovel pass. This time Weaver raced into the end zone for a 58 yard catch and run with 1:19 left.
United called a timeout to set up a block on the all important PAT.
Weaver, who had converted 24 of his 27 PAT’s in his career, was the person you would want out there doing the kicking.
But junior Bill Cassat broke through the middle of the line and blocked the PAT.
The Lions were able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock.
“We set up a play to block the kick and I would like to take credit for it, but Bill wasn’t supposed to be the player making the block,” admitted Lions Coach Chris Matava.
“We had a block set up with our two linebackers and our corner, but Billy rose up and made a great play for us.”
“The snap was fine and the timing seemed right,” said Baldoneri. “He hit the ball okay, but they (United) had penetration right up the middle.”
The game should not have come down to the final, kick, because both teams combined for seven turnovers in the game and 16 penalties.
“I don’t know what the answer is with all of the turnovers and penalties we are committing,” said Matava of his team’s 14 turnovers coming into the game and 30 penalties.
“I wish I had the answer and I would correct it.”
The Lions first four series ended with three fumbles and a bad snap on fourth down, which gave the Mounties the best scoring chance of the first half.
Punter Kevin Wissinger was forced to run with the low snap and Crowe tackled him for an eight yard loss and Ligonier took over on the Lions 24 with 3:22 left in the half.
Facing a third down from the six, Crowe avoided the Lions rush and found Bobby Monticue for an apparent six yard TD.
But LV was flagged for an illegal block. On the next play, Crowe’s pass was intercepted by Andrew Clevenger.
The Mounties had a breakdown late in the half and the Lions took advantage.
LV got the ball back at their 46 with 38 second left. But six seconds later, Crowe passed to Matt Benton, who was stripped of the ball by Mark McNutt and Greg Hastings recovered at the Lions 45.
An illegal substitution penalty on the Lions moved the ball back five yards, then quarterback Sean Domer got outside of the LV containment and scrambled for 26 yards. He then hit Brett Cameron on a slant pass for a 33 yard TD with 14 seconds left in the half. Hastings booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
“Sean made a great run, after they forced him outside,” said Matava.
“On the pass play Brett ran a good route and Sean delivered the ball.
“We have the capability to make plays like that, but we just haven’t been consistent yet.”
The Lions threatened to score late in the third period. After Adam Mack, who finished with 143 yards rushing, picked up 15 yards down to the LV 19. But three plays only picked up two yards and on fourth down, Weaver dropped Clevenger short of a first down and LV took over deep in their territory.
While the Mounties had outstanding field position in the first half, three of their seven second half series began inside their own 15 yard line.
“We had a lot of pass routes open early on, but couldn’t make a play,” admitted Baldoneri.