Facing long odds without three key players, Wilson used special teams, some clutch defensive stands and big runs by Jadyn Jones to beat Manheim Township 31-28 in a season-saving Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 victory Friday night.
The Bulldogs were without quarterback Kaleb Brown, wide receiver/safety Troy Corson and running back/kick return Mason Lenart. On most nights, that’s about 80% of their offense and much of their secondary.
On this night others stepped up to fill the void, including Jones, defensive end Ethan Capitano, two-way lineman Matt Schrufer, defensive back Cameron Jones, running back Gavin Lenart … the list goes on and on.
“(Knowing we might be short-handed) we stepped up the intensity at practice this week, and it carried over to the game time,” said Jones. “Obviously, you see what we did.”
Jones busted off a 65-yard TD run the first time he touched the ball, scored on a clinching 15-yard run with 1:23 left and finished with 237 yards on 29 carries.
The Blue Streaks (0-1, 0-2) knew the Bulldogs (1-0, 1-1) had limited options on offense, knew Jones was going to be asked to carry the load, yet they still couldn’t stop him.
“He had a whole load on his back, and he did a great job,” said Bulldogs coach Doug Dahms. “Jadyn’s tough as nails; he ran like a mad man.”
The Bulldogs yielded a whopping 420 yards, 284 through the air. Streaks quarterback Evan Clark, a first-year starter, bought time in the pocket with his mobility and hit on some long passes, throwing three TDs.
He hit a couple of key passes on the drive that saw Township take its only lead at 21-17 with 3:59 left in the third quarter, but the Wilson defense stiffened after that.
The Bulldogs forced a three-and-out, got a turnover on downs at their 16, and then another three-and-out during a critical stretch late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
That gave their offense time to regain the lead, which they did when Gavin Lenart — who subbed in to give Jones a breather — broke off a 42-yard scoring run to make it 24-21 with 9:50 left.
Clark burned the Bulldogs’ patch-work secondary for big strikes over the first third quarters, but at the end he was consistently run down trying to make plays as Schrufer, Jeff Colacin and Capitano came up with late sacks.