NECEDAH - Memo to the WIAA: a No. 2 seed is not supposed to dominate a No. 1 seed on their home field in a Level III playoff football game.
That’s exactly what happened last Friday night though, when the second-seeded Flying Arrows of Lancaster followed up a two and a half hour bus ride to Necedah, only to dominate the top-seeded Cardinals, 49-7.
And when I say dominate, I mean DOMINATE!
Regardless of the score, last Friday night’s third-round playoff game was the most lopsided contest I have witnessed all season.
It was almost as if coach John Hoch’s squad knew exactly what play to call on offense just by looking at Necedah’s defensive alignment.
Speaking of Necedah’s defense, it was obvious the Arrows didn’t get caught up in the hype of their opponent, who had given up just 54 total points up to that point, and recorded six shutouts during the year.
Lancaster instead, took it to the Cardinals right from the start, and didn’t take their foot off the gas until they held a 49-0 lead with 2:39 to play in the game.
Not very often do you see the fast clock in effect for the entire second half of a level III playoff game, but because of Lancaster’s first-half dominance, that’s exactly what you got Friday night.
Lancaster scored on all five of their first-half possessions, running a total of 21 offensive plays for 342 yards. That’s a whopping average of 16.28 yards per play.
Also in the first half, the Arrows had just one third-down attempt, and never had a need to punt.
Equally as impressive was the Lancaster defense, who in the first half gave up 85 yards on 28 plays for an average of three yards per play.
The furthest Necedah got on Lancaster’s side of the field in the first half was to the 33-yard line, where on a fourth-and-four, was thrown for a six-yard loss.
Lancaster’s first possession of the game ended with a 67-yard TD run by quarterback Justin Hore, which capped off a three-play drive that took 51 seconds off the clock.
Lancaster’s second possession consisted of seven plays that covered 72 yards, and resulted in a 13-yard TD pass from Hore to Kile Jerrett, who out-jumped a defender to bring down the ball.
A two-point conversion pass from Hore to Wes Schnepper gave the Arrows a 14-0 lead with 3:15 to play in the first quarter.
After the Lancaster defense forced Necedah into a three-and-out, the Arrows took possession of the ball at their own 31-yard line with 57 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Seeing something on the defensive side of the ball, quarterback Justin Hore changed the play at the line of scrimmage, dropped back for a pass, and hit a streaking Jerrett perfectly in stride for a 69-yard TD and a 20-0 lead.
According to coach Hoch, on five or six occasions during Friday night’s game, Hore checked into passing plays that caught the Cardinals blitzing, and went for big gains, if not touchdowns.
Such was the case on Lancaster’s fourth possession of the first half, when Hore found Schnepper on a 12-yard TD pass to give the Arrows a 26-0 lead just three minutes and eight seconds into the second quarter.
Hore finished the game completing 5-of-7 passing attempts for 142 yards and three touchdowns, taking advantage of blitzing defenders and exploiting match ups that favored his taller and faster receivers.
Jerrett finished the game with two catches for 82 yards, both going for touchdowns, while Schnepper also hauled in two passes for 41 yards, one for a score.
“I think we blocked well on the edge, and we thought we could take advantage of some of the things they did defensively in their pass coverage,” said coach Hoch.
“We thought our personnel could take advantage of mainly their size, and we also knew that when we did certain things they reacted differently. So we put in a couple of routes to hopefully take advantage of that, and they worked,” Hoch added.
The Arrows closed out their first-half domination with a one-yard TD plunge by fill-in fullback Matt Ihm, giving them a commanding 35-0 halftime lead.
With the fast clock in effect for the second half, the Arrows opened the third quarter with a nine-play scoring drive that covered 66 yards and took seven minutes and 33 seconds off the clock.
Troy Baker gave the Arrows a 42-0 lead on a 25-yard TD run with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Because of the fast clock, Lancaster had just three offensive possessions in the second half, two ending in touchdowns, and one on a lost fumble.
Ihm found the end zone one more time on a 66-yard TD run with 2:39 to play in the game, and a Hunter Budack extra-point kick gave the Arrows a 49-0 lead.
Ihm had been moved from his normal halfback position to fullback in the absence of Trae Mezera, who sat out Friday’s game due to a concussion sustained the week before. Taking Ihm’s spot at the other halfback position was freshman Brett Snider.
As much damage as the Arrows did through the air, they did twice as much on the ground, where they finished with 362 yards and four TDs on 30 attempts.
Lancaster had three different rushers finish with 100 yards or more Friday night, as Hore led them all with 139 yards and one TD on eight attempts. Ihm finished with 106 yards and two scores on nine carries, while Baker added 102 yards and one TD on eight attempts.
None of that could have been possible without the performance of the offensive line, which graded out at over 80 percent for the first time this season.
With the return of seniors Matt Huebner, Trenton Pink and Jordan Recker, along with junior John VanDeHey, coach Hoch knew he had experience returning on his offensive line. But the biggest addition to the line has been sophomore Brock Snider, who has improved considerably from the start of the season.
“We knew we had four starters coming back. The key was finding Brock, who is just starting to really come into his own as a sophomore.,” said Hoch. “He has improved at times in some games more than anybody.”
With the help of their offensive line, Lancaster did not have to punt at all on Friday, and converted 3-of-3 third-down attempts.
Defensively, Lancaster was equally as dominant, holding Necedah to 204 total yards, 187 rushing and 17 passing. Of Necedah’s 187 total rushing yards, 52 came on a TD run with three seconds remaining in the game against Lancaster’s second-string defense.
The Cardinals converted on 4-of-11 third-down attempts and were 0-for-3 on fourth downs.
“Our defense gave us great opportunities, and they got off the field quick,” said Hoch. “We were real happy with how we swarmed to the ball, and our guys up front really freed up some things so our linebackers could flow to the ball.”
Leading Lancaster with 7.5 tackles was junior linebacker Connor Flynn, while junior defensive back A.J. Day had six tackles, and sophomore linebacker Mitchell Schildgen 5.5.
(D5 Level 3 playoff game from Friday, Nov. 4, at Necedah)
Lancaster 20 15 7 7 - 49
Necedah 0 0 0 7 - 7
L - Justin Hore, 67-yard run (kick failed)
L - Kile Jerrett, 13-yard pass from Hore (Wes Schnepper pass from Hore)
L - Jerrett, 69-yard pass from Hore (kick failed)
L - Schnepper, 12-yard pass from Hore (Hore run)
L - Matt Ihm, 1-yard run (Hunter Budack kick)
L - Troy Baker, 25-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Ihm, 66-yard run (Budack kick)
N - Crabtree, 52-yard run (Brown kick)
First downs - L 12, N 8. Rushing - L 30-362, N 44-187. Passing yards - L 142, N 17. Passes - L 5-7-0, N 2-3-0. Fumbles lost - L 1-1, N 2-1. Penalties-yards - L 5-35, N 3-20.
Rushing - L: Justin Hore 8-139, Matt Ihm 9-106, Troy Baker 8-102; N: Gunnar Mach 24-64. Passing - L: Justin Hore 5-7-0, 142; N: Jordan Mach 2-3-0, 17. Receiving - L: Kile Jerrett 2-82, Wes Schnepper 2-41; N: Brandon Lynch 1-10.