NANTICOKE – Many of the components that have been missing from the Nanticoke football program recently finally surfaced Friday.
None of them seemed more apparent than the bruising defensive play the Trojans displayed Friday. Nanticoke shut out its opponent for the second consecutive week, keeping Susquehanna at bay in a 10-0 win.
"Bend but not break; that's all it came down to," said Nanticoke coach Ron Bruza, whose Trojan squad shut out Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech 36-0 last week.
"These kids wanted to get it on Homecoming. I didn't think we'd get it this way. I didn't think we were going to shut them out because Susquehanna is a great ball club."
The old adage that a great defense is a good offense proved true for Nanticoke.
Defensive back Pat Hempel cut in front of a Sabers wide receiver to pick off a pass that set up the Trojans' only touchdown drive. Nanticoke (2-1) drove the ball 23 yards, capped off by a 7-yard Maurice Wood rush that put the Trojans up 7-0 at the 4:37 mark in the second quarter.
"We overcame (offensive struggles)," Bruza said. "We kept our pedal to the medal. Good things happen. Hard work pays off. We're starting to get some of the breaks our way."
Nanticoke's defense stopped Susquehanna (1-2) on each of its three red zone opportunities – including two key stops in the third quarter. Tyler Myers picked off an Austin White pass at the goal line. In the Sabers' next possession, Brandon Meck recovered a fumble at the Nanticoke 12 yard line that proved to be Susquehanna's last scoring opportunity.
"Those are game changers right there," Bruza said. "That's what we've lacked the last couple of years. It breaks the team's back, moves the ball a little bit."
The Trojans sacked White seven times for a loss of 36 yards. Giacoma Bova and Blake Balderramma each recorded two sacks.
Nanticoke's defense sacked White four times on the Sabers' final possession of the game.
"We started playing with some confidence that hasn't been here," Bruza said. "Susquehanna is a team that knows how to win, and we're still trying to figure it out.
"The kids did a hell of a job tonight."
Alec Norton kicked a 25-yard field goal to secure the win.
Nanticoke 10, Susquehanna 0
NAN – Maurice Wood 7 run (Alec Norton kick), 4:37
NAN – Norton 25 kick, 3:33
RUSHING – SUS, James Murnock 4-6, Austin White 15-(minus-4), Brett Hepler 4-11, Cole Mallery 9-56; NAN, Pat Hempel 14-78, Michael Colatosti 5-11, Blake Balderramma 3-15, JT Levendowski 7-2, Nate Slese 2-4, Wood 5-18, Brandon Meck 1-2, Team 3-(minus-3)
PASSING – SUS, White 5-13-2-94; NAN, Levandowski 2-8-1-24
RECEIVING – SUS, Zack Vaughn 1-16, Mallery 3-63, Hepter 1-15; NAN, Hempel 2-24
INTS – SUS, Mallery 1-3; NAN, Hempel 1-0, Tyler Myers 1-5
MISSED FGS – None