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High School Football - Week Three Summary

UDA notches a 'W,' 28-27

Halifax's Eric Johnston dives for yardage Sept. 18, against the wishes of Upper Dauphin Area's Devyn Boye and Mason Wiest. (Sentinel photo by Lon Zeiders)

ELIZABETHVILLE • A four-game home schedule forced Upper Dauphin Area to host its homecoming early in the season, and the Trojans used that excitement as a springboard to their first victory of the 2015 campaign Sept. 18.

Freshman Mason Wiest started the game with a 95-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff, and a host of other Trojans made impactful and timely plays to secure the 28-27 victory over rival Halifax.

“We ran a kickoff back on them [Halifax] last year, and we were fairly confident we could do it again this year,” said UDA Head Coach Brent Bell after the game. “Special teams is something we work on a lot. Mason made a heck of a play, and it really set the tone for our team for the rest of the game.”

Halifax kept its cool after Wiest sent the home crowd into a frenzy, scoring on its ensuing possession to even the game at 6-6. Wildcat quarterback Mason Erdman led his team on a 69-yard drive, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown strike to Jay Zerby.

UDA responded on its next possession when signal caller Aaron Cleveland led his team 59 yards to retake the lead.

After struggling through the first two weeks of the season, the Trojan offense appeared more in sync than it’s been all year.

“We shifted some personnel over the past few weeks, and I think we’re starting to get more comfortable,” said Bell.

Cleveland had a 40-yard score called back for holding, but the play still resulted in a first down. Three plays later, the Trojan quarterback scored on a 15-yard run to put his team up 13-6 with 4:53 left in the opening quarter.

Halifax again responded. Starting from its own 31 for the second consecutive time. Halifax drove down the field with ease – aided by a UDA personal foul that was worth 15 free yards – before running back Jake Paul scampered over the goal line from five yards out to make the score 13-13 with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.

The Trojans got their second big play on Halifax’s next possession. Starting at their own seven yard line, Erdman setup in shotgun, but the snap went over his head and into the Trojan end zone. Erdman was able to recover the fumble, but a host of UDA defenders quickly pounced on him for a two-point safety that gave the hosts a 15-13 lead early in the second quarter.

Two plays later, the Trojans extended their lead when Cleveland connected with tight end Colton Laudenslager for a 44-yard pitch and catch that gave Upper Dauphin a 22-13 lead they would never relinquish. Laudenslager finished the game with two receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown.

UDA extended its lead even further after an errant punt snap on Halifax’s next possession gave the Trojans possession at the Wildcat nine yard line. Four plays later, Cleveland scored from one yard out to make the score 28-13 by halftime.

The Trojans would not score again, relying on their defense – not its offense – to cement the victory.

Halifax came out of the gates firing after halftime. Erdman connected with Zerby for an 87-yard touchdown pass on the Cats’ first possession of the second half to bring them within eight.

After forcing UDA to a three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, Halifax got back on the offensive attack. Bruising runner Paul capped the Wildcats’ next drive with a nine yard run that got the Cats within one – 28-27 – with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Momentum continued to swing in the Cats’ favor when they recovered a Trojan fumble deep in Wildcat territory on UDA’s next offensive possession.

Taking over on its  own 17 yard line, Halifax began marching for the go-ahead score. The Trojan defense, employing a “bend don’t break” mentality throughout the remainder of the game, tightened up as Halifax neared the end zone.

“The defense came alive when they needed to,” said Bell after the game. “We made a few adjustments, and the kids responded with some really big plays. It was great to see.”

One of those big plays came courtesy of Wiest, who finished the game with two interceptions – none more important than his second. With Halifax inside the Trojan 20 and down by only one late in the fourth quarter, Wiest stepped in front of an Erdman pass for the pick that halted a long drive and ended the scoring threat.

It appeared that the turnover would allow UDA to run out the clock, but three plays later Halifax got a big break of its own when it recovered a fumble on the Trojans’ 12 yard line.

“We didn’t have a good vantage point of the play from our sideline, so I wasn’t able to see what happened,” said Bell in reference to the late game fumble. “When the referees indicated that Halifax had possession, I was surprised.”

With their backs against the wall, an Upper Dauphin defensive front led by linebacker Tanner Bechtel and interior lineman Cody Zerby held firm to secure the Trojan victory. Bechtel and Zerby – who each had four tackles for loss in the game – got deep penetration through the Halifax offensive line on all three of the Wildcats’ final offensive plays.

Upper Dauphin’s solid defensive play set up a fourth-and-20 on the Trojan 22 yard line. Halifax opted to attempt a 40-yard game-winning field goal. Kicker Alex Berzowski had ample leg, but his attempt sailed wide right. UDA downed the ball one last time before the clock expired.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win you’ll ever see, but it’s our first one of the year so we’re excited, and we’re just going to keep working to improve from here,” said Bell.

Cleveland finished the game with 76 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He was also 7-of-14 through the air for 141 yards and one TD.

Erdman was game 13-for-25 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Zerby led all receivers in the game, catching four balls for 115 yards and two scores.

The Trojans travel to Williams Valley, while Halifax hosts Millersburg, Friday Sept. 25. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.


Tri-Valley 28, Williams Valley 6, Sept. 18. The Bulldogs led 28-0 before Williams Valley scored its first and only touchdown in Hegins Friday night.

Led by quarterback Jaden Buchanan’s 69 passing yards and 78 rushing yards, the Dawgs outgained the Vikes 313 to 143.

Buchanan connected with Dawson Schwalm midway through the first quarter for a 31-yard touchdown strike to give the Dawgs an early lead. The senior signal caller finished the game an efficient 4-for-6 through the air with one TD and one interception.

Tri-Valley extended its lead at the end of the opening frame when Chase Schaeffer scored on a one-yard run. Schaeffer had 63 rushing yards and one score on only three carries.

Bruising sophomore running back Danny Scheib scored Tri-Valley’s next six points. Scheib’s one-yard run midway through the third quarter gave the Dawg’s a 21-0 lead. He finished the game with 35 yards on 13 carries, as well as the touchdown.

Buchanan scored in the fourth quarter on a five-yard run before Dylan Rabuck scored Williams Valley’s only touchdown with less than one minute left in the game. Rabuck had 26 yards and one score on 16 carries for the Vikes.

Going into the games of Friday, Sept. 25, Tri-Valley stands at 3-0 while Williams Valley fell to 1-2.

Tri-Valley travels to Jim Thorpe, and Williams Valley hosts Upper Dauphin this week. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Sept. 25.


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