WEST LAWN — Wilson's Mason Lenart caught the kickoff at his own 10 yard line, evaded the initial wave of Manheim Central's tacklers and bolted up the right side of the field, through a cool fall-like breeze to the end zone early in the second quarter at Gurski Stadium Friday night.
The bolting Bulldog answered a Barons' touchdown from moments before, stole back the momentum and gave his team a 14-7 lead, an advantage it never relinquished in a 49-14 crossover win between the two Lancaster-Lebanon League titans.
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 4-0. They also matched Manheim Central's mark of 564 wins as a program, the highest total among L-L League teams.
"It's just a tribute," said Doug Dahms, Wilson's coach, "to the program and the kids and the coaches and the tradition."
The blitzing Bulldogs set the tone early in Friday's clash, bearing down on Manheim Central quarterback Evan Simon in a pass rush that produced seven sacks and helped limit the Barons to 214 total yards of offense. Avanti Lockhart led the blitzing brigade with three sacks.
"We bring a lot of heat," Dahms said of the Bulldogs' defensive front. "We've got a lot of people who mix in there. They're strong, and they've got some real good speed. Teams have to account for that."
The Barons also had to account for Wilson's offense and its big-play potential. Troy Corson opened the scoring with a 55-yard dash through Manheim Central's defense late in the first quarter. He also caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Wilson quarterback Kaleb Brown (7 for 9, 89 yards, 2 touchdowns), who himself rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
TOUCHDOWN, Wilson. Troy Corson takes it to the house from 55 yards out on a jet sweep to the right. Extra point makes it Bulldogs 7, MC 0 w/ 2:50 left in the opening frame. #LNPFootball pic.twitter.com/WpLgJ603nb— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 13, 2019
"He's a good running quarterback," Manheim Central coach Dave Hahn said of Brown. "Makes good reads. He executed really well."
Manheim Central (2-2) had knotted the game after recovering a botched Bulldogs' punt return at the 13 yard line. The turnover set up a 13-yard touchdown run from Simon that tied the score, 7-7, with 10:22 left in the second quarter.
"There were some positive plays," Hahn said. "We just didn't have enough positive plays in consecutive order to get things going."
Lenart ran away with the ensuing kickoff. Later in the quarter, Wilson's Adrian Santana knocked down Manheim Central's punt, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run from Lockhart. The Barons answered with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Simon to Colby Wagner with 4:09 left in the half, but the Bulldogs tacked on a pair of touchdowns before halftime.
TOUCHDOWN, Manheim Central. Evan Simon gets into a bit of a rhythm and hits Colby Wagner for a 48-yard score. XP cuts the Wilson lead to 21-14 w/ 4:09 left in Q2. #LNPFootball pic.twitter.com/u1dmBblyfP— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 13, 2019
"We gave them, I thought, two cheap scores off of turnovers," Dahms said, "but we have some offensive weapons, and we can put some points on the board."
Wilson opens its L-L League Section One schedule at Penn Manor Friday. The Barons turn toward their Section Two schedule and Friday's opener at Elizabethtown after suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since 2014.
"We've gone through this meat grinder of a schedule," Hahn said of his team's nonleague slate, "and now we're in section play where we belong. We're not going to give up. We're not going to quit. We don't know quit. We'll see where we're at."