LEHMAN TWP. — The situation has certainly brightened up since that rainy, muddy night at Hanover Area two weeks ago.
Lake-Lehman, though, knows it still needs to keep progressing to make the postseason a possibility.
So even after their first shutout in 21 games — a 35-0 victory over Nanticoke on Thursday night — coach Jerry Gilsky was careful not to mention the playoffs.
“It’s the situation we’re in. It is what it is,” said Gilsky, whose team won its second in a row. “We’re not looking at the playoffs at all. Our coaches are not, our kids are not. We’re looking at that game. We had to fine tune everything because we have a lot of one-wayers out there to keep fresh legs out there with the loss of a couple key guys.”
The victory didn’t move the playoff needle for Lehman (4-3). The Black Knights remained in fifth place in the hunt for four District 2 Class 3A playoff spots. That could change after Friday night as fourth-place Meyers (4-2) and third-place Hanover Area (4-2) both face tough opponents.
Nanticoke (3-4) slipped out of the playoff mix with the loss. The Trojans, who were Lehman’s last shutout victim by the same 35-0 score in 2014, left the black hole with a streak of six consecutive quarters without a point. They scored all their points in the first half of last Friday’s 25-22 victory over Crestwood.
“It’s tough,” Nanticoke coach Ron Bruza said. “We just have to execute. At times we executed, at times we didn’t. We just have to get back to the basics, execute and play football. That’s all it comes down to.”
Five turnovers didn’t help matters. Two of them in the first half led to Lehman touchdowns and a 27-0 deficit heading into the locker room at halftime.
Nanticoke opened the game with a promising drive, moving from its 20-yard line to the Lehman 29 mainly behind the legs of running back Dawson Hughes. Lehman linebacker Frank Kutz pounced on a fumble there and six plays later, Jake Tomolonis busted through the gut of the Nanticoke defense for a 19-yard touchdown.
Lehman defensive back Vincenzo Ferrari recorded the other turnover, plucking a Nanticoke pass over his head and returning the interception down the left sideline 30 yards to the Nanticoke 4 late in the second quarter. Running back Charlie Kuschke ran in from there on the next play to make it 27-0.
Between those two touchdowns, Lehman forced a couple of punts and pieced together scoring drives of six and 10 plays. Fullback Matt Kurtz bulled in from 4 yards with seven ticks left in the first quarter to complete the six-play possession. Kuschke bounced a run outside, picking up a block from receiver Noah Gorski, to score from 24 yards away to end the 10-play drive at 6:28 of the second quarter.
Lehman put the 35-point mercy rule into effect on its first possession of the third quarter as running back Zach Kojadinovich scored on a 1-yard run and Kuschke ran in for the two-point conversion.
“I just felt we looked a little more energetic as we’re going through the second half (of the season),” Gilsky said. “Next week we have Redeemer and then we have the other part of our schedule which is Berwick and Dallas. Lucky us.”
Nanticoke hosts Pittston Area (1-5) next Friday.
Lake-Lehman 35, Nanticoke 0
LL — Jake Tomolonis 19 run (Ian Dawsey kick), 5:00
LL — Matt Kurtz 5 run (Dawsey kick), 0:07
LL — Charlie Kuschke 24 run (Dawsey kick), 6:28
LL — Kuschke 4 run (kick blocked), 4:08
LL Zach Kojadinovich 1 run (Kuschke run), 8:34
RUSHING — Nanticoke, Dawson Hughes 15-59, Eric Jefferies 4-4, Sebastian Johnson 3-3, Mark Walters 1-(minus-3), Matt Wrubel 4-(minus-4), John Kryzwicki 8-38, Ian Novakowski 2-14, Matt Bobeck 5-39, Austin Cheslaw 1-(minus-5), Colby Butczynski 1-(minus-4). Lehman, Kuschke 6-86, Kojadinovich 6-28, Kurtz 8-50, Tomolonis 3-43, Vincenzo Ferarri 4-20, Ty Billotti 5-(minus-5), Jarrett Daum 1-(minus-6), Floyd McRoy 1-3, Nate O’Donnell 3-4, Nate LaBar 2-5, Cole Robbins Long 1-4, team 1-(minus-1).
PASSING — Nanticoke, Wrubel 4-7-1-58, Butczynski 0-1-1-0. Lehman, Ferrari 4-6-0-41, O’Donnell 1-2-0-26.
RECEIVING — Nanticoke, Justin Casey 3-48, Walters 1-10. Lehman, Noah Gorski 2-27, Tomolonis 1-15, Kojadinovich 1-(minus-1), Billotti 1-26.
INTERCEPTIONS — Lehman, Ferrari 1-30, O’Donnell 1-57.
MISSED FGs — None.
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar