WILKES-BARRE — Eric Kerr seemed to be in the right place at the right time Saturday night.
The Holy Redeemer receiver/defensive back returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown and followed it up with a 94-yard TD reception as the Royals upset Hanover Area 27-14 in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2A-A game.
Redeemer improved to 2-6 as Kerr, a senior, scored all four touchdowns on Homecoming night.
“It means a lot,” Kerr said. “There was a lot of trash talking before the game. It’s a great way to go out, especially on our homecoming and senior night since we have nine games this year. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
And the worst feeling in the world for Hanover Area (4-4), which was dealt a severe blow to its District 2 Class 2A playoff hopes. The Hawkeyes entered the game third in the district standings. They exited in sixth place. Four teams make the D2-2A playoffs.
The game started well enough for Hanover Area as it drove 72 yards on its first possession to score. Running back Ya’Sir Jones capped the eight-play drive with a 10-yard scoring run, giving the Hawkeyes a 6-0 lead at 5:26 of the first quarter.
Redeemer’s ensuing possession, though, ended with a sign that perhaps it wasn’t going to be Hanover Area’s night. Redeemer quarterback Jimmy Strickland fired an 8-yard pass to Vince Villani, who was about a yard deep in the end zone. The ball ricocheted off Villani and right to Kerr for a touchdown.
The Royals then scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the second quarter to take a 20-6 lead int0 halftime.
Two plays after Hanover Area fumbled a punt return, Strickland tossed a short pass to the left flat to Kerr. Kerr broke two tackles and raced in for a 33-yard touchdown.
Hanover Area proceeded to drive to the Redeemer 15-yard line on its next possession, but Kerr picked off a pass and returned the interception for a touchdown with 17.9 seconds on the clock.
The Hawkeyes moved the ball again on their opening possession of the third quarter. The drive died at the Redeemer 11, and three plays later Strickland dropped a pass in the arms of Kerr streaking down the left hashmarks. Kerr finished it off 94 yards later.
The 27-6 lead at 7:54 of the third quarter put Hanover Area right where Redeemer wanted it.
“We forced Hanover into the situation where we wanted them to be in,” Redeemer coach Pat Reece said. “We’re up a couple scores, make them pass. We knew we could defend well on the pass. … Our plan was to get them to pass the ball and get them right into our trap.”
It worked. Villani cut off Hanover Area’s next-to-last possession with an interception. The final time the Hawkeyes had the ball, defensive lineman Mark Cantafio came up with a sack on third down. The Royals forced Hanover Area quarterback Jake Peters to scramble on fourth down and he came up well short of the first-down marker.
Holy Redeemer 27, Hanover Area 14
HAN — Ya’Sir Jones 10 run (kick failed), 5:26
HR — Eric Kerr 9 pass from Jimmy Strickland (kick failed), 0:58
HR — Kerr 33 pass from Strickland (Maurico Rodriguez kick), 1:26
HR — Kerr 95 interception return (Rodriguez kick), 0:17
HR — Kerr 94 pass from Strickland (Rodriguez kick), 7:54
HAN — Isaiah Taylor 13 run (Taylor run), 5:30
Team statistics`Han Area`Redeemer
RUSHING — Hanover Area, Taylor 24-165, Jones 9-72, Elido Veras 5-24, Mike Kremenic 1-5, Jake Peters 5-(minus-8). Redeemer, Vince Villani 6-5, Strickland 8-(minus-4), Pat Villani 7-26, Eric Shorts 2-6, team 3-(minus-6).
PASSING — Hanover Area, Peters 14-30-2-202. Redeemer, Strickland 15-25-1-252, Chad Fahey 1-1-0-33.
RECEIVING — Hanover Area, Derek Brodginski 1-43, Veras 4-48, Stephen Morgan 6-82, Mike Beierle 3-29. Redeemer, Kerr 5-159, Strickland 1-33, P.Villani 4-32, Charles Ross 2-12, V.Villani 3-34, Shorts 1-15.
INTERCEPTIONS — Hanover Area, Kremenic 1-14. Redeemer, Kerr 1-95, V.Villani 1-23.
MISSED FGs — None.