FACTORYVILLE — Lakeland used a balanced rushing attack to defeat Lackawanna Trail, 42-7, in a Lackawanna League football Div. 2/3 crossover game Friday, Oct. 2 at Lions Pride Stadium.
Seven Lakeland players combined to run for 337 yards and five touchdowns on 27 carries.
“Our linemen took care of business and our backs ran hard,” Lakeland head coach Jeff Wasilchak said. “You have to rip off some big runs to get three guys over 100 yards. Our kids are starting to believe and do what they’re supposed to do.”
Lakeland (3-2) struck first when fullback Eric Ferko capped an 11-play, 64-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Ferko, who accounted for 123 yards on eight carries, picked up two first downs during the possession. Colin Cooper converted the extra point to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead with 4:32 left in the first quarter.
Lackawanna Trail linebacker James Gillespie intercepted Chiefs quarterback Jake Gross and returned the ball to the Lakeland 21-yard line with 11:25 remaining in the second quarter, but the Lions scoring chance ended with Joe Pidgeon sacked Nathan Rolka for a 12-yard loss on third down and Rolka’s pass fell incomplete on fourth down.
The Chiefs held the Lions to 183 yards of offense, including just 38 in the first half.
“Our kids were disciplined defensively,” Wasilchak said. “That offense is tough to defend, you need to have good eye discipline and read your keys.”
On the next play, Lakeland running back Mike Lowry, who gained 107 yards on eight carries, burst through the Lackawanna Trail defense for a 71-yard touchdown run. Cooper hit the extra point to give the Chiefs a 14-0 advantage with 9:08 left in the second quarter.
After Lakeland’s defense stopped Trail on three plays for the second consecutive possession, Lowry ran 26 yards for his second touchdown of the game with 6:24 remaining in the second quarter. Cooper’s extra point gave the Chiefs a 21-o lead.
Lakeland’s defense got into the scoring column when Ferko intercepted a pass from Rolka and returned it 33 yards a touchdown. Cooper’s extra point made the score 28-0 with 6:04 left in the first half.
“We knew this was a game where we couldn’t afford to turn the ball over,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis said. “We couldn’t afford to miss blocks and tackles. We’re gaining more experience all the time and hopefully we’ll keep getting better every week.”
Ferko sacked Rolka for a 13-yard loss on third down on Lackawanna Trail’s first drive of the second half, forcing a punt, and ran 74 yards for a touchdown on the Chiefs next play. Cooper’s made the extra point to give Lakeland a 35-0 advantage with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter.
Lakeland running back Cy Babcanec, who gained 109 yards on seven carries, scored the Chiefs last touchdown on an 87-yard run with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s really nice to have three backs get in the game and give each other a breather,” Babcanec said. “The linemen did a great job, I couldn’t ask any more of them. They were doing all the heavy work for us.”
Lackawanna Trail ended Lakeland’s shutout attempt when fullback Thomas Huffsmith capped a nine-play, 72-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run with 6:18 left in the game. Huffsmith also converted the extra point.
Lackawanna Trail (1-4) will travel to play Carbondale Area in a Lackawanna League Division 3 game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9.