By Tyler Sablich
For Digital First Meai
Ambler >> Antaun Lloyd had every right to look worn out, but instead he was all smiles.
“It gets tiring (being the workhorse])” Lloyd said. “I was gassed. But I said, ‘I gotta do it for my team.’”
Without him, Friday night’s 13-7 win over Central seems unlikely for Wissahickon. The senior halfback ran for 167 yards on 24 carries, including a game-tying 85-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half we got some holes for [Lloyd] and he doesn’t need a huge hole,” Wissahickon head coach Randy Cuthbert said. “He’s a heck of a back and he came up huge in the fourth quarter. When the game’s on the line you want the ball in your best player’s hands.”
In fact, the running game was on display for both sides during Friday night’s non-conference matchup between Wissahickon and Central. Central ran the ball effectively throughout most of the night, relying heavily on running backs DeShawn Wiggins and Basheer Steed. The Lancers declined to pass the ball early and often even in seemingly obvious passing down situations, frequently keeping it on the ground on both third and longs and fourth and longs.
The Trojans countered by unleashing their own weapon on the ground in Lloyd. If Wiggins, quick and crafty, was the lightning to Steed’s downhill thunder, Lloyd was the prototypical Swiss Army knife. Alternating between running the ball inside and outside, he routinely ducked tacklers, gaining chunks of yards in the process. He fielded kickoffs and punt returns. Oh, and he made an interception on defense that, at the time, signaled a potential turning point in the first half.
However, once Central grabbed a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a strip-sack and fumble return, the Lancers’ ground game picked up even more so. They milked the clock and seemed comfortable with the slight edge, relying on their defense to keep Lloyd at least somewhat in check, and kept Wissahickon quarterbacks John Dickson and Nick Santo uncomfortable in the pocket. The score remained 7-0 in favor of the Lancers at halftime.
“(The first half) was very frustrating,” Lloyd said. “I was getting very emotional. But I knew we just had to bring the team to 2-0.”
Cuthbert said he was not caught off guard by Central’s toughness in the first half, particularly their running back duo.
“(Wiggins and Steed) looked really good on film,” Cuthbert said. “And they looked really good last year when they won their league. I was expecting this to be a battle. We have two comeback wins in a row and that’s a huge improvement. It’s a testament to the kids and the coaches really worked hard.”
Ultimately, Central did not have enough to waste Lloyd’s monster night. Late in the third quarter, the Lancers failed to take advantage of a Wissahickon muffed punt deep in their own territory. Central kicker Soosung Whang missed a field goal and from there the momentum changed hands.
Central’s running game subsided a bit in the fourth quarter thanks to improved play by the Trojans’ defensive front four, opening the door for Lloyd to put the Wissahickon offense on his back. He went untouched on the 85-yard touchdown run with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and untied it from two yards out with 48 seconds to go. The Trojan defense fended off a final push by the Central offense, capping off a memorable night for their senior halfback and improving to 2-0 in the process.
It may be fair to question how long the Trojans can keep on winning while having to rely so heavily on one playmaker. Once they reach Suburban One Conference play, the performances of their quarterbacks may become a growing issue.
Dickson, a senior, technically received the start, but was relieved frequently by Santo, a freshman, who seems to be nipping at Dickson’s heels for the starting job.
Cuthbert said Santo earned more playing time after putting in a strong week of practice, and Lloyd seconded those thoughts.
“I think (Santo) is going to earn a lot more playing time,” Lloyd said. “He didn’t really get a chance to showcase it tonight, but he has a great arm.”
For now, Wissahickon can take solace in the fact that they have one of the most dynamic playmakers in the area. In fact, although a senior, don’t expect Lloyd to stop playing football anytime soon. He is already weighing his options for college ball, having been in recent contact with UMass and Kutztown.
“(Lloyd) is a great kid, a great player, and he has all the intangibles,” Cuthbert said. “I think he’s definitely going to be an NCAA player at the least.”
Wissahickon 13, Central 7
Wissahickon 0 0 0 13
Central 7 0 0 0
C – Santos 32 fumble return (Whang kick)
W – Lloyd 85 run (Fortesque kick)
W – Lloyd 2 run (kick failed)
First Downs 6 7
Rushing Yards 29-176 28-127
Passing Yards 54 21
Total Yards 230 148
Penalties 5-30 3-25
Fumbles Lost 1 0
RUSHING – Wissahickon: Lloyd 24-167, 2 TDs; Mack 2-5; Smalls 1-2; Dickson 1-2. Central: Steed 18-43; Wiggins 11-84
PASSING – Wissahickon: Dickson 4-8-0 ints., 54 yds., 0 tds; Santo 1-8-0 ints., 9 yds., 0 tds. Central: Kitchens 2-7-1 int., 21 yds., 0 tds.
RECEIVING – Wissahickon: Wright 3-34; Mack 1-11; Caso 1-9. Central: Wiggins: 2-21
INTERCEPTIONS – Wissahickon: Lloyd. Central: None