Northern Lebanon ends season with 35-12 playoff loss to Conrad Weiser

FREDERICKSBURG>> The signs of a mounting pressure cropped up from the very beginning.

First, there was the 13-play drive allowed by the defense. Next came the rushed throws from the pocket and the short-yardage stop.

And then, despite a stellar 9-1 regular-season campaign, No. 4 Northern Lebanon quickly reached its breaking point.

For over a seven-minute span in the second quarter of Friday’s first-round District Three Class AAA playoff, the Vikings allowed three touchdowns and turned the ball over twice, leading to a 21-0 halftime deficit. Two quarters and additional pair of turnovers later, Northern Lebanon ended its season with a 35-12 defeat to No. 13 Conrad Weiser, a result largely due to relentless defensive pressure and a pounding running game.

Led by the 134-yard effort of senior Alex Guilbe, the Scouts rushed for 202 yards and four touchdowns in a dominant showing. Defensively, they held Vikings quarterback Isaac Ray to 61 yards through the air and star running back Dominic Trader to 83 yards rushing. Ray, who played his last high school game in front of his home crowd, admitted Conrad Weiser’s pressure proved to be too much, but hoped the 2014 season would provide inspiration for the future.

“They were bringing a lot of pressure, and we haven’t seen pressure since Lebanon. They were blitizng pretty much every play, and we just weren’t ready for that.” he said. “I just hope this motivates all the juniors and sophomores to really get better in the off-season. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be section champs again next season.”

Northern Lebanon coach Roy Wall, who was recently named Lebanon County’s coach of the year, echoed the thoughts of his senior leader and reaffirmed .

“You have to be proud of what we accomplished,” Wall said. “We set our goal from day one to win the section championship, and we did that. And very often in life you don’t.”

Following a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings tipped a 34-yard field goal attempt from Scouts kicker Jake Roth to end a lengthy Conrad Weiser drive. However, they could only hand the ball right back via a three-and-out, which culminated in a Ray sack.

Conrad Weiser responded with a six-play series highlighted by a 10-yard scoring strike on third down from Tyler Hoss to Chase Ober at 7:05 left in the first half.

The pass was one of three Hoss completions on the night. Otherwise, the Scouts’ offensive damage came almost solely from Guilbe and back-up runner Billy Price (44 yards, two touchdowns). Guilbe rushed for 26 of the 28 positive yards on Conrad Weiser’s following drive, a stretch set up by a Ray interception.

When Northern Lebanon failed to convert a fourth-and-two with under two minutes to go before halftime, the compact back ripped off runs of 18 and 16, before punching the ball in from four yards out for his only score of the night.

“He runs hard. He’s got 200 pounds behind him, gets the legs moving and found some holes that really weren’t there,” Scouts coach Al Moyer said. “They were aggressive blitzing all over the place, so he kept his head found the hole and ran for those tough yards.”

Armed with a 21-0 lead after the half, Conrad Weiser was stopped cold on a three-and-out series, before returning the favor a mere three feet in front of its end zone. Faced with fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Northern Lebanon gave an outside hand-off to Noah Smith, who was promptly dropped for a loss of seven yards.

“I think we were actually looking for a bit of option outside, but that kid came up with a good play there,” Moyer explained.

While the Vikings would later force another three-play series from the Scouts and score on their own, the home team’s hopes were ultimately dashed when Conard Weiser ran 10 straight running plays leading to an eight-yard Price touchdown.

Price added another score for good measure at five minutes to play, before Ray, Trader and Tyler Wetzel-Haynes gave Vikings fans one last drive to cheer for, a nine-play series endined with an 11-yard pass from Ray to Wetzel-Haynes.

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