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After 4 scoreless quarters, Storm falls in overtime

September 28, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- The Mercersburg Academy defense just simply had to play one too many sets of downs on Saturday afternoon.

Lawrenceville School quarterback Aaron Aikens capped off his first varsity start of the season by winning a mad dash to the pylon at the left corner of the end zone on a two-point conversion that sent the Blue Storm to a disheartening 8-7 overtime loss.

"This is one of our toughest losses here and the second by one point this year," said Mercersburg coach Dan Walker, whose team fell to 0-4.

Forty-eight minutes were not enough for either team to dent the scoreboard.

Mercersburg's defense was tested throughout the game. The Blue Storm coughed up the football five times on fumbles and once on an interception, leaving the defense in precarious positions to keep Lawrenceville from scoring.

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Three times in the third period alone, following Mercersburg fumbles, Lawrenceville began inside the Blue Storm 30, but was turned back by efforts spurred on by Bubba Harris and Paul Suhey.

Tom Flanagan and Jordan Jefferson came up with big plays defensively in the fourth quarter, stopping Lawrenceville at the Blue Storm 14 and, on another possession, forcing an unsuccessful field goal attempt following a sack with 1.4 seconds left on the clock in regulation.

Mercersburg finally cracked through offensively in overtime when Trevor Smith hit Jefferson on a looping pass over the middle for a 19-yard score. A.J. Firestone added the PAT.

However, Lawrenceville answered as Aikens hit Nathan Saffold in the right corner for 24 yards that set up Dale Critz's 1-yard TD run.

Lawrenceville coach Ken Mills called a timeout to decide on going for a tie or the win and elected to go for the win.

"We took the timeout really not knowing what we would do," said Mills. "We took a spread option play and the first option (for Aikens) was a corner pass, but we told him to think run if he had to."

Indeed, Aikens saw his receivers covered and took off wildly. He just made it to the pylon, crossing the line for the win.

"(Lawrenceville) made the plays when they had to, but we should never have been in that position," said Walker. "We just have to find a way go get some running game going."

While the defense held Lawrenceville to 50 yards rushing on 34 attempts, Mercersburg could muster up only 77 yards on 33 attempts.

Smith was 14 of 26 for 142 yards, but most completions were dump passes, netting only 4 or 5 yards at a time.

The sign that it was going to be long day for Mercersburg might have come on the opening kickoff, when Josh Muller's miscue immediately turned the ball over to Lawrenceville.

Later in the opening quarter, Troy Harrison coughed up the football at the Big Red 4, thwarting a huge offensive opportunity.

Mercersburg had another prime shot on its next possession wtih a first-and-goal at the 7. One rush and two pass incompletions later left Firestone with a 24-yard field goal attempt that was pushed slighty off to the right.

"No kick is automatic, but we should have had that field goal," said Walker. "But the defense played extremely hard all day and I'm really proud of it and hope we can keep building on that effort."

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