WILKES-BARRE – It was a recipe for disaster if you were a Holy Redeemer fan.
Multiple-play, time-consuming drives that end with an opposing player flipping the ball to an official in the end zone.
It's a sight that Lake-Lehman executed to perfection each and every time Saturday afternoon. And a sight that ruined Holy Redeemer's homecoming celebrations.
The Black Knights dominated the offensive side of the football, scoring on six of their first seven possessions in the first three quarters as quarterback Bill Hillman threw for three touchdowns in a 42-12 win at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
"We wanted to establish a nice rhythm between the run and the pass," Lake-Lehman coach Gerald Gilsky said. "They were loading up the box, and we knew that we could throw the ball. We have a lot of confidence in Bill and our receivers."
Balance was established from the opening whistle.
Hillman threw a 53-yard strike to Tom Donovan right down the middle of the field after the senior back slipped behind the secondary just three plays into the game.
On its next series, Lehman (3-1) ran the ball on 10 of 11 plays – capped by a 3-yard jaunt by junior Dustin Jones.
The Knights had four series of seven or more plays, and were almost identical in offensive yards – 212 on the ground and 195 through the air. Hillman's first two throws were TDs; the second a 29-yard dart to Josh Sayre to give Lehman a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"It brings a lot of the stress down when you get an early lead, but you can't relax or settle down. You have to keep going, and stay on top," said Jones, who had a game-high 88 yards rushing and two scores. "The offensive line had a real good surge today, and gave Bill a lot of time to throw the ball. When you see a big hole like that, it's up to me to make the correct reads and cuts in the open field. The line is doing a great job. Bill did a nice job of passing, and the receivers are doing a good job with routes."
Pat Reece won't lie. He knew the run was coming.
But when receivers kept slipping past the Royals' secondary, especially in the middle, the Redeemer coach knew it would be a long night.
"Actually, we wanted to shut down the run and force them to pass. We had too many broken coverages, and they really took advantage of the middle," Reece said. "Right now, it's about our defense. We know that we could move the ball on offense. It's just that we have to tighten up on defense."
Lehman led 26-0 at the break before touchdown passes by Hillman and Antonio Ferrari pushed the game to the mercy rule.
"Every single game, we are getting better and better," Jones said. "I can't wait to see us at the end of the year."
Lehman's defense was pretty impressive as well, holding Holy Redeemer (1-3) to negative yards rushing and just nine first downs.
The Royals punched two in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Strickland found Eric Shorts for the first score and, following a Knights turnover, the junior quarterback connected with a wide-open Vincent Villani to cap the scoring.
"Jimmy is progressing," Reece said. "We fight, and they always fight right to the end. A few other games, we were able to score a few right before the end. But it's too late at that point. We have to get back to the drawing board, and get ready for the next one. We just have to push through that wall, just like we did against Holy Cross. We have to get back to that point."
Donovan led all receivers with 89 yards, while five Lake-Lehman players caught passes. John VanScoy and Donovan combined for 95 yards rushing on 14 carries. Redeemer's Eric Kerr caught a game-high seven passes for 60 yards.
"We are still making mistakes, but that's part of having a young team," Gilsky said. "It's important to have that depth, that if one guy makes a mistake, you can find someone else to plug in there. Next week is big. Meyers is a good team. They are getting some swagger, and have a real respectable team. We treat the season by halves, so next week is like the end of our first half. That would be a big win for us to finish off our first half."
LL – Tom Donovan 53 pass from Bill Hillman (kick missed), 10:38
LL – Dustin Jones 2 run (run failed), 3:26
LL – Josh Sayre 29 pass from Hillman (Hillman run), 9:24
LL – Jones 1 run (pass failed), 4:06
LL – Kody Pachamovich 9 pass from Hillman (Pachamovich pass from Antonio Ferrari), 7:07
LL – Jacob Taple 35 pass from Ferrari (Jones run), 2:20
HR – Eric Shorts 43 pass from Jimmy Strickland (run failed), 5:11
HR – Vincent Villani 33 pass from Strickland (kick failed), 2:49
RUSHING – LL, Dustin Jones 15-88, John VanScoy 9-56, Tom Donovan 5-39, Josh Sayre 2-156, Bill Hillman 21-7, Brady Butler 2-6, Jimmy Stuart 4-4, Bobby Wright 2-2, Zachary Jayne 1-2, Antonio Ferrari 1-(-3); HR, Eric Kerr 1-(-1), Justin Renfer 1-(-2), Charlea Ross 3-(-2), Pat Villani 2-(-3), Jimmy Strickland 12-(-15)
PASSING – LL, Hillman 5-9-0, 160 yards; Ferrari 1-2-0, 35 yards. HR, Strickland 16-23-0, 214 yards
RECEIVING – LL, Donovan 2-89, Jacob Yaple 1-35, VanScoy 1-33, Sayre 1-29, Kody Pachamovich 1-9; HR, Kerr 7-60, Vincent Villani 2-43, Eric Shorts 1-43, Jason Hoggart 3-34, Pat Villani 1-15, Matt Crofchick 1-14, Eric Ligotski 1-5
INTERCEPTIONS – None
MISSED FGS -- None