THROOP — Lackawanna Trail struggled to generate much production offensively during the first half on a muddy field, but a quick strike in the third quarter helped the Lions take command.
Quarterback Nate Rolka connected with Jeffrey Resto for a 44-yard touchdown on the third play of the second half to increase Trail’s lead to 14-0 and the Lions rode that momentum to a 20-6 win over Mid Valley in a LFC Div. 3-4 football game Sept. 28.
“We always feel like if we can come out and put a drive together, and come out with points, it kind of sets the tone for the whole half,” said Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis.
Lackawanna Trail fullback Ray Melnikoff started the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter. Melnikoff also tacked on the extra point to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.
“We knew we wanted get on top early,” Melnikoff said. “We didn’t want to give them a chance to get momentum.”
Mid Valley (1-5, 0-2 Div. 3) advanced the ball to the Lions’ 20-yard line late in the first half, but Trail safety Jordan Edwards came up with an interception to preserve the lead.
Mid Valley’s Colin Hazelton, who rushed for 108 yards on 21 carries, powered his way for a 31-yard touchdown to cut the Spartans’ deficit to eight points with 5:11 left in the third quarter. Sebastian Brudnicki was stopped short on a two-point conversion attempt.
“I give credit to Mid Valley,” Jervis said. “(Hazelton) is a heck of a ball player; he’s a returning 1,000-yard rusher. He’s their playmaker and he was slipping out of some tackles.”
Lackawanna Trail (6-0, 2-0 Div. 4) went ahead again by 14 when Rolka dashed 15 yards for a touchdown, on a quarterback draw, with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and it all started with our line,” Rolka said. “They played outstanding the whole second half. They were digging deep in the trenches and they were all giving 100 percent.”
Hazelton and Brudnicki had a lot of success running the ball in the first three quarters, but Trail’s defense tightened up and started forcing the Spartans into obvious passing situations.
Lions defensive back Nico Berrios intercepted a pass inside the 10-yard to squash a quality scoring chance for the Spartans with 8:24 left in the fourth quarter.
“We started keying on different things and coach (Jim) Becchetti is such a great defensive mind,” Melnikoff said. “He put in a whole bunch of new stuff right at the end of the game and I think (Mid Valley) really struggled with it.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.