SUSQUEHANNA – On a day when Susquehanna could have gotten blown out early, the Sabers got within three points of Lackawanna Trail late in the first half.
Nathan Rolka and Noah Coleman made sure the Sabers stayed there for exactly 20 seconds.
Rolka’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Coleman in the final minute of the half was just one of the many plays that each made Saturday afternoon to lead the Lions to a 37-15 victory at William Emminger Memorial Field in the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 4 opener for each team.
“I give a lot of credit to our quarterback,” Lackawanna Trail coach Steve Jervis said. “He’s a four-year starter. He understands our offense very well.
“We were in our two-minute offense and he made the right read and made the right throw. Noah’s another kid who is a senior leader and made a great play. That’s a huge difference. Going into the locker room up by 10 is a lot different than going in up by three.”
Susquehanna turned the ball over four times in the first half, including on three straight plays at the 29, 19 and 16 before the Lions finally converted a miscue into a score.
Rolka finished 5-for-9 passing for 119 yards and two touchdowns while adding 27 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He also kicked a 27-yard field goal and made four tackles, including one for a loss.
Coleman ran 39 yards for a touchdown, caught another pass for 11 yards, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
After several big defensive stops, the Sabers cut the Lions’ lead to 10-7 on C.J. Stone’s 40-yard run with 40.6 seconds left in the half.
The fourth Susquehanna turnover had come at the 5, but the Sabers drove the Lions back and got away with just the field goal.
Susquehanna then picked up its first three first downs on two Stone passes and his touchdown run.
Getting to the locker room within three points might have felt like a victory to the Sabers at that point, but Rolka and Coleman made sure that did not happen with a deep pass down the left sideline.
“They were playing straight man coverage,” Rolka said. “Noah ran a double move up the sideline.
“He had good position on the kid so I figured I’d take a shot at it. Noah took it and he did all the work.”
The same Lackawanna Trail offense that could only get 10 points out of four trips inside the 25 began scoring from all over the field.
The Rolka-to-Coleman touchdown made it 17-7 and the Lions added three touchdowns in a stretch of 13:52 during the second half. Cody Moyle sandwiched scores on a 44-yard pass and 21-yard run around Coleman’s 39-yard run.
“Susquehanna’s a good football team,” Jervis said. “They’re well-coached and they were taking away our run game. Early on, we were having a hard time getting in a rhythm.”
After barely averaging three yards per carry in the first half (22-for-71) when they had the ball for more than 17 of the 24 minutes, the Lions picked up more than six an attempt in the second half (18-for-112).
“It was a gutsy effort on both sides,” Jervis said. “When it came down to it, we did a good job in the fourth quarter.”
Lackawanna Trail improved to 2-0 going into Friday night’s game at Montrose (0-1 in the division, 0-2 overall).
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