WILKES-BARRE — Maybe it was just a sluggish Saturday start. Maybe it was too much looking ahead to a big showdown with Berwick next week.
Whatever it was, Lake-Lehman head coach Jerry Gilsky let his team know about it during a quick timeout on the opening drive of the first quarter.
And boy, did they responded.
The Black Knights scored 38 unanswered points and rolled up almost 400 yards of offense as Lehman cruised to a 38-3, mercy-rule victory over Holy Redeemer at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
The win keeps Lehman (5-3) as the No. 2 seed in the District 2 Class 3A playoff race behind one-loss Scranton Prep. The Royals have dropped seven straight since a Week 1 victory at Holy Cross.
“Out of the gate, we just didn’t play well,” Gilsky said. “We were kind of looking ahead to next week in that first quarter. We probably spent a little longer on film this week, and we will look at this film because that’s always a teaching point. You always do the same routine because you want the kids to understand no matter what mistake was made against whomever, it still has to be corrected.”
Let’s be honest. It would be easy to peer ahead with all the postseason formulas that exist.
Lake-Lehman has two huge contests left against Berwick and Dallas. Plus, there’s talk about a possible home postseason contest in the Back Mountain.
“If we win the next two, we have that chance, which is crazy if you think about it,” Gilsky said. “And if we lose the next two, we could even drop to a No. 4 seed. After what happened in the first half of our season, we never thought we would be talking about a home playoff game.”
Well, the Knights’ wake-up call came early in the first quarter on the fifth play of the game as Redeemer’s Dorien Ryans ripped off a 40-yard run and the Royals (1-7) had a first-and-goal from the Lehman 1.
A holding call stalled the drive in the red zone, but a Nate Roppelt 21-yard field goal gave Redeemer a 3-0 lead.
Quite possibly, it was Redeemer’s best drive of the 2016 season. Seventeen plays, converting on third down three times. A nice mix of the run and pass.
“I’m proud of the way the kids came out. We played hard, we did,” Redeemer head coach Dwayne Downing said. “The kids really tried to make it competitive. But they just kind of took over there. We just don’t have the bodies. We have a great group of kids, but it’s tough at times.”
The alarm must have went off after that Redeemer field goal because it lit a fire under Black Knights.
Lehman scored on five of its first six drives in the first half. It started with a 30-yard field goal by Ian Dawsey to knot the game at 3-3 in the first quarter, and continued to build from there.
An 11-play drive following a Jake Tomolonis interception that led to a Vincenzo Ferrari 4-yard quarterback sneak for the score.
Another score off a Redeemer turnover as Noah Gorski’s pick set up the Knights deep in Royal territory, and two plays later, Charlie Kuschke took the inside counter 14 yards as Lehman was off to a 17-3 lead early in the second.
Kuschke wasn’t done. The senior tailback added two receiving touchdowns as well. He hauled in a 45-yard pass from Ferrari with 38 seconds left before halftime as Lehman led 31-3 at the break. The duo hooked up again early in the third – this time a 52-yard TD where Kuschke got behind the Royals’ secondary and went untouched down the left sideline.
Lehman showed a nice mix with 197 rushing and 189 passing yards. Kuschke and Gorski combined to haul in 181 of the 189 yards, while Kuschke led all rushers with 61 yards. Ryans finished with 53 yards on six carries for Redeemer, and quarterback J.D. Turosky had 71 yards passing – 45 of them to John Winters.
Lake-Lehman 38, Holy Redeemer 3
Lehman `10`21`7`0 – 38
Redeemer `3`0`0`0– 3
HR — Nate Roppelt 21 field goal, 6:16
L — Ian Dawsey 30 field goal, 4:07
L — Vincenzo Ferrari 4 run (Dawsey kick), 0:26
L — Charlie Kuschke 14 run (Dawsey kick), 10:30
L — Zack Kojadinovich 5 run (Dawsey kick), 1:53
L — Kuschke 45 pass from Ferrari (Dawsey kick), 0:37
L — Kuschke 52 pass from Ferrari (Nick Wnuk kick), 9:20
Team Statistics `L`HR
First Downs `16`6
Rushes-Yards `34-197 `20-81
Passing Yards `189`71
Total Yards `386`152
Sacked-Yards Lost `0-0`2-23
RUSHING — L, Jake Tomolonis 4-81, Charlie Kuschke 6-61, Zack Kojadinovich 6-30, Nate O’Donnell 2-28, Ty Billotti 6-4, Matt Kurtz 3-4, Vincenzo Ferrari 3-1, Maverick Nulton 2-(-2), Liam O’Brien 2-(-6). HR, Dorien Ryans 6-53, Cade Fahey 2-23, JD Turosky 8-13, John Winters 2-0, Tom Engle 1-(-1), Robb McClay 2-(-7).
PASSING — L, Vincenzo Ferrari 9-13-2, 189 yards; Nate O’Donnell 0-1-0, 0 yards. HR, JD Turosky 7-25-3, 71 yards.
RECEIVING — L, Noah Gorski 5-84, Charlie Kuschke 2-97, Zack Kojadinovich 2-8. HR, John Winters 3-45, Robb McClay 2-7, Cade Fahey 1-13, Dorien Ryans 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS — L, Jake Tomolonis, Noah Gorski, Ty Billotti. HR, John Winters 2.
MISSED FG’S — L, Ian Dawsey (40 yards).
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @tlsports.