LANCASTER - You’d think it would be tough for any football team to follow up a 62-14 season-opening win, but the Lancaster Flying Arrows managed to succeed in more ways than one last Friday night.
With a stellar defensive effort and an equally explosive offense, the Flying Arrows soundly defeated their neighbors from the north, handing visiting Fennimore a 47-6 non-conference loss.
The win has coach John Hoch’s squad off to a 2-0 start to the 2011 season, while the Golden Eagles dropped to 0-2 on the year.
Lancaster could very well make it 3-0 this Friday night, when they travel to Adams-Friendship, as the Green Devils have yet to score a single point in their first two games, while giving up a total of 79 points to their opponents.
Last Friday night though was as much to do about the Lancaster defense as it was their offense.
Of Fennimore’s 63 total offensive plays, the Lancaster defense gave up just 184 total yards, for an average of 2.9 yards per play.
It’s one thing to hold the Golden Eagles to just 36 yards rushing on 20 attempts, but it’s another thing to totally disrupt their normally productive passing attack.
Fennimore quarterback Ian Streeter completed 12-of-41 passing attempts for 148 yards and no touchdowns. He also was picked off six times, twice each by Tony Craugh and Wes Schnepper, while A.J. Day and Cody Glass each had one.
“I thought our run defense did very well, and we put more pressure on the quarterback, which helped out our pass defense,” said Lancaster coach John Hoch. “I know we had six interceptions, but we thought we could have had four other ones.”
“We expected them to throw the ball. They seem to have a lot of success when they go into some type of gun set and mix the run and pass up quite a bit. We didn’t have a lot of sacks, but there was pressure on them, which resulted in poor throws, incomplete passes or hurries,” Hoch added.
Last week when the Arrows gave up 379 yards passing to Orfordville Parkview, coach Hoch was quick to put a lot of the blame on the coaching staff for not matching the right coverage with the right blitzing scheme.
This past week, everyone at Lancaster seemed to be on the same page, which was bad news for the Golden Eagles.
“We didn’t always play the best defense, but we weren’t out of position like we were the week before,” Hoch said. “We matched up our coverages with our fronts very well, and the kids responded.”
After Troy Baker ran back the game’s opening kick for an 88-yard touchdown, it appeared momentum was clearly on the side of Lancaster last Friday night.
But Fennimore responded with a time-consuming drive that took them inside Lancaster’s 20-yard line, only to have the Flying Arrow defense step up with an A.J. Day interception in the end zone.
Fennimore managed to find the end zone on their next possession, but the extra-point kick failed, leaving the score 7-6 in favor of Lancaster.
Fennimore’s next possession ended in another interception, this time by Tony Craugh, who returned it all the way down to the Golden Eagle three-yard line.
It took just one play for Trae Mezera to cross the goal line, giving the Arrows a 13-6 lead with 2:26 to play in the first quarter.
On Fennimore’s first possession of the second quarter, Lancaster linebacker Cody Glass picked off a Streeter pass, and returned it down to the four-yard line, where quarterback Justin Hore scored with 11:07 to play in the half.
Fennimore’s next possession also ended in an interception, when Wes Schnepper picked off Streeter, giving Lancaster the ball at their own 24.
Of Fennimore’s 10 first-half possessions, six ended in an interception, three in a punt, one in a touchdown and other as time expired in the half.
As if Fennimore wasn’t having a hard enough time stopping the Lancaster offense, they typically were forced to play with poor field possession after numerous turnovers.
“Field position helped so much,” said Hoch. “We had two interceptions that were returned down inside their 10-yard line, which helped us out immensely. Offensively we started out a little bit slower than what we wanted to though.”
Once the Lancaster offense got rolling, they were virtually unstoppable, as they managed 386 yards of total offense on 43 plays for an average of just under nine yards per play.
Lancaster had just four third-down attempts in the entire game, and only punted twice, both coming on their first two possessions.
Friday night it was Matt Ihm’s turn to shine, as the senior ran for 137 yards and one TD on only five carries. Troy Baker finished up with 94 yards on nine carries, while Trae Mezera had 63 yards and three TDs on 10 carries.
“It’s very fortunate that all three of the running backs have had their day already in two games,” said Hoch. “That’s kind of nice so that teams aren’t just keying on our fullback like they did last year.”
“Part of that is the way our guys are blocking on the edge. The ends and halfbacks that are blocking for each other have done a much better job already early in the season than they have in the past.”
Through the air, quarterback Justin Hore completed 3-of-5 passing attempts for 49 yards, including a nine-yard TD pass to Schnepper in the second quarter. Schnepper finished with two catches for 22 yards to lead the Lancaster receivers.
Sophomore place kicker Hunter Budack was 5-of-7 on the night, accounting for five of his team’s 47 points.
Leading the Lancaster defense in tackles was sophomore linebacker Mitchell Schildgen, who had five tackles, three for a loss. Curtis Olson was close behind with 4.5 stops and two sacks.
Lancaster 47, Fennimore 6
(from Friday, Aug. 26)
Fennimore 6 0 0 0 - 6
Lancaster 13 27 7 0 - 47
L - Troy Baker, 88-yard kick return (Hunter Budack kick).
F - Swan, 23-yard run (kick failed)
L - Trae Mezera, 3-yard run (kick failed)
L - Justin Hore, 3-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Wes Schnepper, 9-yard pass from Hore (Budack kick)
L - Mezera, 11-yard run (kick failed)
L - Matt Ihm, 28-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Mezera, 1-yard run (Budack kick)
First downs - F 9, L 15. Rushing - F 20-36, L 35-328. Passing yards - F 148, L 58. Passes - F 12-43-6, L 4-8-2. Fumbles lost - F 1-0, L 1-0. Penalties-yards - F 9-55, L 4-30.
Rushing - F: Aaron Swan 9-41; L: Matt Ihm 5-137, Troy Baker 9-94, Trae Mezera 10-63. Passing - F: Ian Streeter 12-41-6, 148; L: Justin Hore 3-5-1, 49, A.J. Day 1-2-1, 9. Receiving - F: Tyler Hunt 3-33; L: Wes Schnepper 2-22, Baker 1-27.