The Lancaster Bruins earned their first win of the season in memorable fashion Friday night, defeating the Nation Ford Falcons 21-20 in a come-from-behind victory at Lancaster County Memorial Stadium in Lancaster.
Lancaster quarterback Sean Truesdale (93 rushing yards, 113 passing yards on 6-of-13 passing) was the hero of the night. He engineered a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, bursting into the end zone himself with 1:36 left to play.
Defensive back JP Cunningham then picked off Nation Ford backup QB Cameron Zigler on the ensuing Falcons possession to ensure head coach Marcus Surratt’s first win.
Truesdale’s clutch drive was put into motion when he found Kendric Watts in the middle of the field. Watts scrambled 58 yards to flip the field and give the Bruins (1-3) a shot to complete a comeback.
“We had to drive down the field quick, and luckily, they bit on the slant,” Truesdale said. “We’ve been fighting and trying all year, and every day at practice, we get better. Now that we’ve prevailed, we’re not looking back.”
The Falcons (2-2) had led the ballgame since late in the first quarter when Jerrick Foster capped off a lightning-quick three-play, 54-yard drive with a 12-yard rush to the outside that put Nation Ford up 14-7 early.
The two teams traded touchdowns on the game’s opening possessions: Lancaster’s Juelz Hood (75 yards on 22 rushes) ran in untouched from 9 yards out on an option play. Then, Nation Ford’s senior wide receiver Petey Tuipulotu caught an arcing 59-yard pass from junior QB Gabe Huitt that hit the senior receiver in stride.
Nation Ford’s senior kicker Quinn Castner knocked home field goals from 24 and 21 yards out in the first half. But with a 20-14 lead, Castner couldn’t connect on a 23-yard chip shot deep in the final quarter that would have given Nation Ford a two-score lead with less than 4 minutes to play.
Truesdale took over, and the rest was history.
“We talked to the guys at halftime about not giving up,” Surratt said. “Being able to complete plays and eliminate mistakes. You only need one or two things to be in your favor. We had success in the running game, it opened up a few passes, and things happen.”
KEY TURNING POINT: Castner’s late missed field goal proved oh-so-costly in a second half where Nation Ford simply couldn’t convert promising drives into scores.
Nation Ford coach Michael Allen said his team didn’t execute well on either side of the ball.
“Every now and again, when you get on your high horse, you get knocked off,” he said. “I warned them about that this week, and unfortunately, it came to fruition. Hopefully we can get this crowd back together and look forward.
Neither team could get anything going in the second half until Truesdale found Kendric Watts through the middle to complete a 58-yard pass play – easily the most important play of the Bruins season. Truesdale finished off the drive himself four plays later to give Lancaster just its second lead all night.
KEY PERFORMERS: Nathan Mahaffey (150 yards on 24 carries) was clearly Nation Ford’s workhorse all night. He accounted for the lion’s share of the Falcons’ rushing yards, but couldn’t reach the end zone.
Cunningham’s timely pick drew a huge roar from the Bruins sideline.
WORTH NOTING: Nation Ford’s offense was humming in the first half. Quarterback Gabe Huitt put up 242 yards on 11-of-20 passing in the first half alone. But he could only manage 25 yards in the second half, and backup Cameron Zigler came in to finish out the final few drives.
NEXT GAME: Nation Ford heads back on the road to face Class AAA Indian Land High.
Lancaster next hosts Class AAA Chester.