In a remarkable turnaround for the Lawrence Lightning 95lb football team from a year ago, the “Boys of Bethea” have tallied their third consecutive victory and second road-win of the season beating Haddon Township 12-6 on their field Friday night (Oct. 5).
In what became a classic “dog-fight” both teams played bend-but-don’t-break defense for most of the evening. Bryon Hearst, who scored just two touch downs all of last season, got his 5th and 6th scores as the Lightning hit the halfway mark of the season with a record of 3-1.
Early in the first quarter Hearst exploded up the middle of the line running over a Haddon linebacker, which set the tone for the game. A march down field ended when Hearst took a sweep right 24 yards for pay dirt.
The Hawks of Haddon Township had no intention of laying down for the Lightning. A punishing middle ground game kept the Lightning on their heels for much of the afternoon. Early in the 2nd quarter the Hawks capped a 65 yard drive with a QB sneak to tie the game, 6-6.
After that it was all defense. The ensuing kickoff was an onside kick that the Hawks recovered at the Lightning 42 yard line. Lawrence tightened up on defense with strong play from Kevin Kelley who had two backfield tackles from the cornerback position.
On the second half kickoff the Hawks did another onside kick and recovered on the Lightning 44. The Lightning defense stopped the drive but the Hawks defense kept the Lightning offense out of the end zone for most of the 2nd half as well. With 1:38 to play in the 4th quarter, Hearst took a sweep left for a dramatic 56-yard score putting the Lightning up by 6.
With a just over a minute left the Lightning defense stepped up. Kelley covered two attempted deep pass routes and on a 4th and long linebacker Matt Kildea sacked the Hawks QB ending the game and securing the Lightning’s third consecutive victory.
If the 95lb squad can win two of their final four games they will secure a playoff spot in the West Jersey Youth Football League, a feat seemingly unimaginable a year ago when the 95lb squad was rebuilding and went 0-8 scoring only four touchdowns the whole season and giving up an average of 32 points a game.
Coach Duane Davis and Defensive Coordinator Bryan Carter are both former Lawrence Lightning and Lawrence High School football standouts.
Coach Davis credits the turn around to focussed practices. “I tell the boys everyday, football is 10 percent physical, 90 percent mental. When this team doesn’t make mental mistakes it will be tough to beat.”
The squad will be tested in the second half of the season playing its next three games against Maple Shade, Robbinsville, and Bordentown. These are among the strongest programs in the West Jersey Youth Football League.
For more information on the Lawrence Lightning and team schedules visit: www.lawrencelightning.com