Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lycoming Warriors rally past Vanier, 24-20

#12 Nick Costello So. WR Havertown, Pa. / Haverford breaks free with the go ahead touchdown catch
MONTREAL – Getting the ball at its own 50-yard line with less than nine minutes remaining, junior quarterback Collin Wright (Secane, Pa./Ridley) loaded up a perfect spiral to hit junior Nick Costello (Havertown, Pa./Haverford) on the run for a touchdown pass to lift the Lycoming College football team to a 24-20 win over Vanier College in an exhibition game at Vanier’s Turf Field on Sunday, May 21.

Costello finished the game with three receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Warriors, who won the first game in program history played outside the United States. Wright finished 5-of-8 for 125 yards and two scores.

“The overall experience was outstanding,” Lycoming head coach Mike Clark said. “We got everything out of the trip we wanted. We used the additional practice time to improve collectively and individually. It was great to travel to another country and we got a win on top of it.”

Vanier, a CEGEP in Quebec which is intended for postgraduate students aged 17-19, were held to just 49 plays for 208 yards, as Lycoming forced two second-half turnovers and held the Cheetahs to just 78 yards total in the second half.

Playing Canadian football rules, complete with a 12th man and on a field 12 yards wider, the Warriors averaged 5.3 yards per game, as it racked up 324 yards on 61 plays. The Canadian rules did lend to some confusion, as the clock hit zero in the first quarter, but since the Warriors broke the huddle, they were expected to run a play.

The Warrior touchdown was set up by an interception near midfield by junior D.J. Boyd (District Heights, Md./Fairmount Heights), as he returned it to the 50-yard line before Costello scored on the next play. The turnover set up a remarkable three-possession run by Lycoming’s defense, where seniorMike Ward (Edgewater, Md./South River) recovered a fumble, Costello blocked a punt and Boyd’s interception kept Vanier pinned in their own end of the field. However, the lone possession that turned into points was the third one, after the two previous drives ended with missed field goals.

The Cheetahs drove 45 yards in the ensuing drive, getting to the 21-yard line for a 3-and-8, but junior Taylor Kim (Avondale, Pa./Avon Grove) got off the edge for a sack before a false start pushed them back five more yards. An incomplete pass gave Lycoming the ball back with 3:03 left.

The Warriors handed the ball to senior Sam Dressler (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) for six straight rushes. Dressler bruised through the line for first downs of 19 and 18 yards before the line assisted freshman Keith Batkowski (Montoursville, Pa./Montoursville Area) on a nine-yard push to seal the win.

Vanier got on the board first after a strong punt return put the ball at their 22-yard line. Six plays later, a one-yard rush gave Vanier a 6-0 lead, but junior Aaron Davis (Sayreville, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial) got around the edge to block the extra point.

Lycoming responded quickly, aided by a 31-yard rush from Batkowski before Wright found Costello for a 26-yard score to give Lycoming a 7-6 lead. After a 3-and-out, Lycoming drove from the Vanier 40 to the Lycoming 3-yard line before junior Andrew Traxler (Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County) knocked through a 10-yard field goal to make it 10-6 with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

Vanier took the lead with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, scoring on a 3-yard rush before a one-handed grab on the two-point conversion gave the Cheetahs a 14-10 lead. Lycoming answered back on a drive led by senior Chase Williams (Damascus, Md./Damascus), as the Warriors drove 13 plays for 75 yards before Williams found sophomore Stephen Toczylousky (Catawissa, Pa./Southern Columbia) for a two-yard score on fourth down with 42 seconds left in the half.

Vanier responded quickly, scoring in just four plays, with the Cheetahs hauling in a 20-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the half, but Ward blocked the extra point, making it 24-20 at the break.

Dressler led the Warriors, rushing 13 times for 76 yards and Batkowski ran six times for 52 yards. Williams finished 4-of-14 for 29 yards and a touchdown while also rushing seven times for 23 yards. Toczylousky finished with two catches for 11 yards and a touchdown, as he was one of seven Warriors with a reception.

The Warriors had five sacks in the game, led by 2.5 by Kim and two half-sacks from junior Sam Romanofsky (Havertown, Pa./Haverford). Ward finished with a fumble recovery, a blocked extra point and two pass breakups.

The Warriors will open the 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 2, when they head to Susquehanna University for a 1 p.m. Stagg Hat Trophy game.