SUSQUEHANNA – Susquehanna packed all its scoring into an 11-minute, first-half flurry that erased an early Nanticoke lead.
The Sabers then turned to their defense to provide first-year head coach Kyle Cook with his first career victory.
Defensive end Christian Miller led an effort that limited the visiting Trojans to 20 second-half yards while lifting the Sabers to a 21-14 victory at William Emminger Memorial Field.
With leading rusher Pat Hempel’s availability limited, Nanticoke (1-2) looked to go to the air against Susquehanna.
“We didn’t want to run the ball,” Nanticoke coach Ron Bruza said. “We came out with a passing mindset and we threw the ball pretty well.
“We had some crucial breakdowns in assignments.”
Nanticoke, which took the lead less than four minutes into the game on a 28-yard, Joe Lavendowski-to-Tyler Hanna pass, looked to throw 10 times in the second half. The Trojans managed just one completion in that time, however, as Miller produced two sacks and was part of a pass rush that set up a Brett Hepler interception.
Susquehanna scored touchdowns 1:50 apart late in the first quarter and scored again midway through the second quarter for a 21-7 lead.
Quarterback Austin White had 109 of his 128 yards in the first quarter when he scored on touchdown runs of 14 and 65 yards on consecutive Susquehanna offensive plays.
Austin Felter went 39 yards for the second-quarter touchdown.
Nanticoke’s defense helped cut into the deficit before halftime and give the team some chances to rally in the second half.
Brad Yanus recovered a fumble at the Susquehanna 35 with two minutes left in the half. Levandowski found Kyle Gavrish with a 34-yard pass to set up his own 1-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds remaining.
Susquehanna held the ball for 10:45 of the 12 minutes in the third quarter, but missed a field goal.
Nanticoke forced two punts and made two fourth-down stops in its own territory in the fourth quarter to stay within a touchdown.
“The defense played hard,” Bruza said. “They played solid.”
The offense, however, never got past midfield in the second half.
The only time Nanticoke got close was when it picked up two of its three second-half first downs to get to the 47 with five minutes left. On first down, Miller and Jon Haines each hit Levandowski, forcing an overthrow that Hepler pulled in.
“The big thing was we needed our line to get a big push and it did,” Hepler said.
Gavrish intercepted a pass and broke up two others for Nanticoke. He also made 15 tackles, including one for a loss, and assisted on five.
It was not enough for the Trojans.
“We had a lot of calls that didn’t go our way,” Bruza said. “I’m really proud of my guys. It just didn’t work out the way it should have worked out.
Susquehanna 21, Nanticoke 14
N – Hanna 28 pass from Levandowski (Norton kick), 8:11
S – White 14 run (kick blocked), 4:42
S – White 65 run (Murnock run), 2:52
S – Felter 39 run (Jesse kick), 5:37
N – Levandowski 1 run (Norton kick), :31
RUSHING — NANT, Balderramma 6-25, Hempel 5-11, Kotz 6-11, Levandowski 12-1, Hanna 1-minus 4. SUSQ, White 23-128, Felter 11-62, Hepler 6-25, Murnock 10-22.
PASSING — NANT, Levandowski 6-22-1-86. SUSQ, White 0-7-1-0.
RECEIVING — NANT, Hannan 4-48, Gavrish 2-38.
INTERCEPTIONS — NANT, Gavrish 1-0. SUSQ, Hepler 1-35.
MISSED FGs — SUSQ, Jesse 33.