Above, Old Forge Colin Carey reaches for extra yardage as he is brought down by Lake-Lehman’s Dustin Jones. Carey rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in his starting debut. Below left, Dave Argust turns up field after a catch on Friday night, and below right, Lou Febbo (33) runs for big yardage in the Blue Devils victory.Photos by Jessica Kovalcin
It took them one half of varsity action to get accustomed to the intensity that comes while playing under the Friday Night Lights. It took them one second-half series to come of age.
Playing with a bunch of talented sophomores on both sides of the ball, Old Forge turned three straight second-half turnovers by Lake-Lehman into three touchdowns as the Blue Devils opened the 2011 season with a 21-7 win over the Black Knights on Friday night at Old Forge Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“We call it the ‘Youth Movement,’” said Head Coach Mike Schuback. “I love the way the young kids were coming off the ball tonight.”
Those young kids – a group of five sophomores on defense and four on offense – shook off some opening-night jitters to contribute to a big second-half by the Blue Devils. But make no mistake about it, senior quarterback Colin Carey provided the spark - and some instant offense - to deliver Old Forge to victory.
After a scoreless first half, Old Forge took advantage of a fumble recovery by senior defensive end Joey Ciuccio on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Seven plays later, Carey dropped back to pass on a second-and-8 from the Lehman 19, and after finding no one open, tucked the ball and maneuvered his way through the pocket before sprinting toward the visiting sideline and into the endzone for the first touchdown of the season.
Matt Mancuso drilled the first of three successful extra-point attempts and Old Forge (1-0) led, 7-0, with 9:03 remaining in the third quarter.
“Colin kept saying to us, ‘Don’t worry about it. I will get us in the endzone,’” said Schuback who is one win shy of 70 as he begins his 10th year at the helm of his alma mater. “What Colin does for us is something you can’t prepare for.”
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew stepped up again for Old Forge when senior defensive end Cory Stuart caused a fumble which Warren Welsh recovered to stop a Lehman drive which had entered Blue Devils territory.
Facing third-and-6, Carey again dropped back to pass. But again, the first-year starter was flushed from the pocket only to find a wide open left side of the field which the signal-caller turned into a 47-yard touchdown as he sprinted past two Black Knight defenders for the 14-0 lead with 4:40 left in the third.
“My first intent is to pass but when I don’t see something I like I have three seconds to throw or I just go,” said Carey, who rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries. “I like to think of myself as another running back… a running back with an arm.”
Lake-Lehman went to the air on its next series and wound up turning it over one more time. This time, junior defensive back Michael Vieira made a nice catch for an interception of Jared Novitski to set the Blue Devils up first-and-10 at their own 30.
Senior tailback Lou Febbo then ripped off a 33-yard run on first down to move Old Forge into Lehman territory. Three plays later, Brian “Bubba” Tomasetti ran through a hole on the left side before picking up a solid block by Vieira on the outside to spring the junior tailback into the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown. The score put the Blue Devils ahead, 21-0, just nine seconds into the final stanza.
Lehman added its touchdown late in the game when Brady Butler scored from 13 yards out and Novitski made the PAT with 2:07 left to get within 21-7. But that was as close as the Black Knights would get after Dave Argust fell on an onside kick and the Blue Devils ran out the clock.
“I think we came out a little nervous and sat on our hands in the first half,” said senior linebacker Anthony Trotta who led the Old Forge defense with 12 tackles. “We didn’t play up to our potential in the first half, but everybody brought it the second half. “We adjusted our fronts defensively. We were feeling it out the first half for a lack of a better word, and made a good adjustment at half.
“We don’t have one guy. No one is the player to watch. Nobody is a name. We have 29 guys who are going to give their heart every play. That’s Old Forge football.”