Lampeter-Strasburg's football team was firing on all cylinders Friday night.
The defense scooped up two fumbles and came up with two interceptions, big punt returns gave the offense a short field to work with, and the running game found the end zone six times as the Pioneers rolled past Conestoga Valley 49-14 in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two play to reclaim the Lampeter Bowl trophy.
After putting up 39 points in a Week 3 loss at Spring Grove, CV's offense couldn't get anything going on the road Friday night. The Buckskins went three-and-out on their first drive before their second drive ended in a pick-6.
Bradley Stoltzfus' pass attempt ricocheted off its intended receiver and into the waiting arms of Christian Garver, who ran it back 38 yards for the L-S touchdown. Eleven seconds later, the Pioneers (1-0 L-L, 4-0 overall) were back in the end zone after a fumble recovery set up a 12-yard rushing touchdown from Alex Knapp.
“Our defense sets the tone,” L-S coach John Manion said. “I thought we were moving the ball pretty well, a little bit more physical, but overall, our defense sets the tone.”
“We gave away every trophy we had last year and we're trying to get them back one by one,” he continued with a laugh. “Tonight was a good feeling, especially with all they've been through.”
Bryan McKim plowed in from six yards out and another fumble recovery set up Drew Harris' 10-yard score as L-S jumped ahead 28-0 with a minute left in the opening quarter.
CV (0-1, 0-4) answered back through the air, with Stoltzfus connecting with Zach Fisher for a pair of 10-yard gains before hitting Eddie Hernandez in stride, as the senior crossed the goal line to make it a three-score game with 8:28 until halftime.
Any momentum the Buckskins thought they had garnered disappeared two minutes later as Knapp and McKim added their second rushing touchdowns of the game to give L-S a 42-7 lead at the half.
“Three quick turnovers early in the game is a big turnaround,” CV coach Gerad Novak said. “You can't spot a good team 21 points and expect to come back and win a game. Its tough, they're a good football team. You take away those 21 points and you're looking at maybe a 21-7 game at halftime and you still have a fighting chance.”
L-S looked ready to pick up where it left off, receiving the opening kickoff in the third quarter, but football quickly took a backseat.
Pioneers' junior Neil Eckman went down after a tackle and was immediately tended to by coaches and trainers. Both teams huddled around Eckman, first kneeling and then lining up to form a tunnel for Eckman to be wheeled off the field to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Less than a minute later, both teams rushed to the far side of the field, where a CV cheerleader had also gone down with an injury. Again, both teams showed their support as a second stretcher was brought onto the field.
The players eventually returned to the field after a brief warmup. McKim added his third touchdown of the night, this one from 39 yards out, before CV added a final score.
Taking a handoff around the left side, James Williams motored down the left sideline for an 83-yard Buckskins' touchdown.
“Unfortunately, we've been dealing with stuff like that already this year,” Manion said of the injuries. “Our team's tight. They see the big picture. They love one another, but they also play for one another.”