Lancaster Catholic vs Donegal-LL Football

Lancaster Catholic's Jeffrey Harley (5) finds a hole in the Donegal defense during first half action of an L-L section 3 football game at Crusader Stadium Friday October 18, 2019.

Lancaster Catholic's offense rode the back of a Harley, while its defense stifled visiting Donegal in Friday’s Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three football clash.

It led to a 32-0 Crusaders' victory on homecoming, clinching at least a share of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three crown for the second year in a row.

Lancaster Catholic (7-1 league, 8-1 overall) can win the section title outright with a victory over winless Pequea Valley in next week’s regular-season finale.

“It’s a heartwarming feeling,” Crusaders' senior speedster Jeffrey Harley said of the section crown.

Harley had 183 rushing yards and two rushing scores by halftime, and finished with 209 rushing yards by the end, going along with a 56-yard kickoff return for a score. As a team, Lancaster Catholic gathered 328 rushing yards on 40 attempts.

“I have to give a shout-out to all of my big men up front,” Harley said. “I’m not the tallest guy in the world, but they make it easy for me to get through a block.”

On the other side of the ball, Lancaster Catholic entered Friday with the league’s second-best rush defense, which again showed up in keeping Donegal’s run-heavy Wing-T attack to 83 rushing yards.

Also of note is Lancaster Catholic's defense, which has struggled defending the pass, keeping a lid on Donegal 1,000-yard passer Trent Weaver (4 for 10, 32 yards, one interception), who was also sacked five times.

“The defense we put together is designed to defend this kind of offense,” Lancaster Catholic coach Todd Mealy said. “So we were confident with the defensive effort we’d get tonight. We didn’t think we’d shut them out. We thought we’d keep them to two scores. ... We had done a poor job of defending the pass this year, until recently. We changed some things defensively, both in the personnel and teaching proper techniques.”

The Crusaders have now posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2006, while the Indians (5-3, 5-4) have now lost three in a row for the first time since the start of the 2017 season.

Harley’s first TD came on Lancaster Catholic’s opening drive, when he found pay dirt down the left side on a 31-yard rushing score.

Crusaders' linebacker Tony Cruz intercepted Weaver on the Indians’ second play from scrimmage, and Lancaster Catholic needed eight plays to go 50 yards, with Alex Cruz’s five-yard TD scamper pushing the advantage to 13-0.

Crusaders' sophomore kicker Daniel Mueller made it 16-0 with a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. A few minutes later, Alex Cruz pushed the lead to 23-0 on a 3-yard rushing score.

After a scoreless third quarter, Weaver fumbled from his 14-yard line, with the ball rolling backwards into the end zone, where Indians' receiver Jacob Shoemaker batted the ball through the back of the end-line for a safety.

On the ensuing kickoff, Harley snagged the ball while on the run at Lancaster Catholic's 44-yard line, broke through some arm tackles and rumbled to the end zone to push the lead to 32-0.