By Mike Meiler firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — His team trailing 8-6 at halftime, Lewiston-Porter senior Dan Hogan walked off the field and told his coaches he wanted the ball in the second half.
“He said if we put the ball in his hands, we’re going to win this thing,” said Lew-Port head coach Jon Hoover.
Hogan helped the Lancers do just that, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as Lew-Port came back to beat the visiting Barker/Royalton-Hartland Raiders 30-16 in its Class B North opener Friday night.
“That’s what winners do and that’s what leaders do,” Hoover said of Hogan, who totaled yards on the ground and added an interception and fumble recovery on defense. “They finish games.”
Lew-Port (2-0, 1-1 B North) opened the scoring on the opening possession, driving 67 yards on 11 plays before senior Zak Nalbone plunged in from one yard out. After a false start, Chris Harvey’s extra point attempt missed, leaving the Lancers with a 6-0 advantage.
The Raiders (0-2, 0-2 B North) answered immediately and methodically, going 65 yards on 12 plays. Sophomore Andy Xapos ran in from 5 yards out, then found pay dirt again on the conversion to give Barker/Roy-Hart an 8-6 lead.
“We went into halftime and said it’s going to be a fight,” Hoover said. “We hit first, they hit back and now we’re going to see see who finishes the fight. We came out ready to play the second half, our line took over the game.
“I think our conditioning came into play. We weren’t winded, weren’t tired, and we made a point to rotate guys in and out.”
The Lew-Port defense, dominant for most of the game, held the Raiders to a three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, and a weaving, 75-yard return by Nalbone, who bobbled the punt to begin with, set up another score. Nalbone took an option pitch for L-P quarterback Jake Eoute 3 yards for the TD, then Eoute converted two points on a keeper for a 14-8 lead.
Later in the third, the Raiders set up to punt from their own 6-yard line. Senior Jacob Haight caught the snap at his goal line and rolled right before booming a kick just over Hogan’s head at midfield. Rather than attempt to catch the ball, Hogan let it hit the ground, and a fortuitous bounce allowed it to roll all the way to the L-P 22.
Three pays later, Hogan made up for his miscue, rumbling 59 yards down the left side of the field for a score. Junior Carmen Zarrillo took a pitch to the left into the end zone for the two point conversion and a 22-8 lead.
“It’s his work ethic and it’s that he’s an athlete,” Hoover said of Hogan. “He does the film work, he knows what’s going on. He’s a complete player.”
The Raiders returned to the scoreboard in the fourth, when Zarrillo couldn’t control a handoff deep in L-P territory. He picked up the fumble in his own end zone and was tackled for safety, making the score 22-10.
Barker/Roy-Hart scored on the ensuing drive, aided by an iffy 15-yard pass interference penalty on what looked to be an uncatchable ball. Three plays after the penalty, junior Joshua Mead ran in from 5 yards out, but Haight’s two-point run was stuffed.
With under two minutes remaining, the Raiders attempted an onside kick. Haight blasted the ball at the Lew-Port front line, but it squeezed threw before stopping at the L-P 26, where Hogan dove on it.
Attempting to run out the clock, Hogan’s first run went for 20 yards along the left sideline before he was knocked out of bounds. Hogan and Nalbone each ran for a combined three yards, and on a key third down, Hogan busted around the right side, stiff armed a defender and sprinted 51 yards into the end zone. Nalbone’s two-point run was successful, rounding out the scoring.
“We’re going to have to scrap out wins,” Hoover said. “We’re going to have to stay with our conditioning, grind it out, wear teams down and win in the second half. After two weeks, that’s what we are.”
The Lancers face their biggest test of the season next week when B North rival Burgard visits on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.