Old Forge’s Lou Febbo attempts to get around a GAR defender.photo by charlotte bartizek
Old Forge quarterback Colin Carey looks downfield while scrambling against GAR.photo by Charlotte Bartizek
Three times Old Forge drove inside the GAR 25-yard line in the second half with the ability to get within a touchdown of the defending District 2 Class 2A champions.
Three times the Blue Devils turned the ball over.
It was the story of the game for Old Forge as the Blue Devils turned the ball over a total of five times in a 29-14 loss to the Grenadiers on Monday night at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
Old Forge opened the game by running the ball right at the GAR defense as Lou Febbo ripped off a 25-yard run on the first play from scrimmage before capping an 11-play, 65-yard drive with a two-yard plunge. Dave Argust booted the extra-point and the Blue Devils led, 7-0, with 6:52 left in the first quarter.
The teams traded possessions before GAR quarterback Darrell Crawford went 14-yards on a scramble on second-and-11 to knot the game at 7-7 just 43 seconds shy of the second quarter.
The second quarter was ugly in terms of offense as both teams combined for just 13 net yards. But with Argust standing in his own endzone setting up to punt toward the end of the first half, GAR got a break.
A bad snap caused Argust to kick a loose football out of the endzone intentionally for a safety, giving the Grenadiers a 9-7 lead at the half.
The third quarter opened with what could have been the break Old Forge was looking. But instead it turned into an opportunity for the Grenadiers unheralded defense to assert itself.
After GAR opened the third quarter on its own 43 following a nice return by Shaliek Powell, the Blue Devils recovered a fumbled snap, turning the ball back – and momentum - over to the Old Forge offense.
Two rushes by Blue Devils quarterback Colin Carey and another by tailback Lou Febbo set Old Forge up at the GAR 23 with second-and-8.
Dropping back to pass, Carey was hurried into an incompletion by pressure from defensive linemen Shakir Soto and Elijah Greshman. The GAR duo did the same on third down, and as Carey tried to set up a screen for Febbo on fourth down, Greshman again was there to force a third straight incompletion.
The defensive stand was the turning point as the Grenadiers rattled off 20 straight points on its next three possessions to take command of the game.
Dwayne Wright carried for 20 yards on two carries after GAR took over, and on third-and-5 from the Grenadiers 45, quarterback Darrell Crawford hooked up with Powell for a 38-yard completion give GAR first down from the Old Forge 12.
On the next snap, Wright carried up the middle before sprinting to the corner for the touchdown, and a 16-7 GAR lead with 8:42 left in the third quarter.
Old Forge was on the move again before the GAR defense made another play.
Carey had rushed for 19 yards and a first down into Grenadiers territory, but while fighting for extra yards, Powell stripped the ball from the senior signal-caller.
On third-and-1, Crawford scampered for 35 yards down the home sideline before hooking up with Powell two downs later for 17 yards to set up first-and-goal from the Old Forge 6. The senior then called his own number on a keeper to put GAR ahead, 22-7. The two-point pass failed.
The Blue Devils tried to answer on its ensuing possession, driving to the GAR 15 on 10 plays, but Max Gates caused and recovered a fumble on an option play to give the ball back to Crawford and the Grenadiers.
On the next play from scrimmage, Crawford electrified the home crowd.
Taking the snap out of the shotgun formation, Crawford – who rushed for 148 yards on 13 carries – started left before sprinting up the middle of the field and to the endzone for the 80-yard touchdown. Height’s kick was good and GAR led 29-7 with 11:08 remaining.
Old Forge got to within 29-14 after the Blue Devils forced a turnover in GAR territory. Carey scored on a 1-yard sneak with 8:31 to go, but Old Forge could get no closer as Wright picked off a Carey pass on fourth down to end a threat.
Carey rushed for 161 yards on 16 carries for the Blue Devils but was intercepted three times by GAR. Febbo added 85 yards and Old Forge’s first touchdown.