Lightner Vs. Lightcap: Wolves Edge Comets 14-6 in Overtime Victory
Written by: Luke Rainey on Saturday, September 29th, 2018
A 28-0 loss does not scream success on paper, but considering the strength of the Ligonier Valley Rams, the West Shamokin Wolves’ defeat in Week 5 displayed their defense’s potential. Heading into an away game against a trio of talented running backs from the Penns Manor Comets, West Shamokin’s defense would be put to the test throughout all 48 minutes of regulation and the extra play to settle the 6-6 tie. Throughout the game, West Shamokin’s defensive unit stood strong against Dimitri Lieb, Matt Somogyi, and Tommy Hamilton, solidifying their performance with a stop on 4th & Goal from the 2-yard line to earn their 4th win of the season.
The Comets won the coin toss and elected to defer. On the opening possession, the Wolves used a methodical approach to move downfield, running the ball with Brendan Mondi for most of the 13-play drive. Once West Shamokin drove inside the 10-yard line, Tyler Lightcap threw to Blake Fairman for a 7-yard touchdown pass to give the Wolves the early lead. The 2-point attempt was unsuccessful, making the score 6-0 in the middle of the first quarter.
Already trailing, Penns Manor was hoping to change the tides in their favor, but failed to gain a first down on their opening series. A similar story can be said for the Wolves following the Comets’ three-and-out, as they were also held to a punt. Penns Manor had another opportunity to even the score or take the lead entering the 2nd quarter, and they quickly cracked their way into positive territory because of a Pass Interference call against the Wolves. However, a large sack and a fumbled snap on the following set of downs resulted in another punt for the Comets.
With a chance to take a 2-score lead midway through the 2nd quarter, the Wolves chose to stick with the rushing attack, gaining 34 yards on 5 plays with Mondi and Dan Goldstrohm. On their first pass of the drive, Lightcap aimed towards the end zone, but Erick Keith intercepted his throw at the 5-yard line, keeping Penns Manor close to the Wolves on the scoreboard.
A crucial drive lay ahead for the Comets, as they needed to gain 95 yards in 3 minutes to possibly take the lead. At first, several handoffs allowed Penns Manor to maintain possession, but time was of the essence. With less than a minute remaining and a single timeout, the Comets struck gold with a 40-yard pass from Jimmy Lightner to Dimitri Lieb, getting Penns Manor inside the Wolves’ 15-yard line. A few plays later, Lieb rushed into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown. The Comets chose to go for a 2-point conversion, but to no avail, resulting in a 6-6 tie entering the 2nd half.
The Comets finally found the key to success as they received the opening kickoff in the 3rd quarter, but despite getting one first down, the Wolves’ defense held Penns Manor to a punt. West Shamokin once again tried to stick with Brendan Mondi on their next drive, and the decision appeared to serve the Wolves’ well, but their momentum fizzled inside the Comets’ territory. Penns Manor also aimed to utilize their three weapons in the backfield, but on a trick play on 3rd & 6, Tommy Hamilton’s pass fell incomplete, once again forcing a punt.
Both the Wolves and Comets were scratching their heads entering the 4th quarter, trying to determine a way to break the tie. On West Shamokin’s next possession, the Wolves gambled on 4th & 1, but Penns Manor’s defense stood like a brick wall, forcing a Turnover on Downs. The Comets chose to stick with Somogyi and Hamilton, but on a 3rd & 5 inside positive territory, a pass from Lightner was intercepted by Blake Fairman, continuing the defensive grudge match. However, West Shamokin was unable to make any progress on their next drive, giving the Comets another chance to seize control of the lead with only 4 minutes remaining. In a repeat of their previous drive, Penns Manor stayed with their 3 main running backs, but once they encountered a 3rd & 11, Lightner threw another interception, this time to Tyler Lightcap.
Following the turnover, West Shamokin’s offense looked to regain the lead with only 1 minute and 30 seconds remaining. On the opening play of the series, Jaden Haswell weaved through the Comets defense and nearly ran for a touchdown, but before he reached the goal line, Tommy Hamilton used his sensational speed to track down Haswell, force a fumble, and allow the Comets to recover the ball as it rolled into the end zone. Despite receiving perhaps the most utmost swing of momentum any team could hope for, the Comets were unable to get close to scoring when time expired, sending the game into shootout-style overtime.
Both teams were given at least one chance to score a touchdown with a set of downs on their opponent’s 10-yard line. West Shamokin won the coin toss and chose to receive. After stalling on 1st and 2nd Down, the Wolves chose to pass on 3rd & Goal from the 12-yard line. Lightcap was able to find Haswell on a slant route in the end zone for the touchdown, and converted the 2-point attempt.
The tasks for both teams were simple to say, but harder to do. The Comets needed to score a touchdown and tie the Wolves in order to keep their hopes alive, while West Shamokin would win with a stop on 4th Down or the 2-point attempt that would follow the score. On 2 separate runs with Somogyi and Hamilton, the Comets reached the 2-yard line, and they continued to rush on 3rd & Goal. It appeared as if Somogyi was about to extend the ball across the goal line, but he fumbled just before reaching the end zone. The Comets recovered the ball at the 3-yard line, but on 4th Down, the Wolves’ defense stood defiant against Hamilton, stopping him shy of the end zone to earn the Wolves a 14-6 victory over the Comets.
After the game, when questioned about the roller-coaster ending, Jaden Haswell stated, “On that breakaway, I thought I was gone, and then I got a little bit loose with the ball. I was down afterward, but on that defensive drive, my team picked me up, and I knew we had to do it to get it done in overtime.”
Wolves’ Coach Jon McCullough also reflected on the nail-biting conclusion, explaining, “Good or bad, adversity strikes, but how do you respond? And especially at the end, you go from the highest of the highs, and then immediately to a low. But we told our kids, ‘You’ve gotta forget about it and move on,’ like anything in life.”
Additionally, Penns Manor Coach Bill Packer, who was searching for his 100th victory as the Head Coach for the Comets, spoke about his defense. “We didn’t stop them on a couple 4th downs,” Packer explained, “But I’m pretty pleased with the defense. I thought we pretty much stopped them.”
1st Quarter: (5:17) WS – Blake Fairman 7-yard Receiving TD (Run Failed): 6-0
2nd Quarter: (0:20) PM – Dimitri Lieb 2-yard Rushing TD (Run Failed): 6-6
Overtime: WS – Jaden Haswell 12-yard Receiving TD (Lightcap Run): 14-6
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