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Tough start to new season

FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: LEBANON 34, CONVAL 0

  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its season opener to Lebanon, 34-0, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.

By the time the ConVal football team finally registered its opening first-down of the season Friday, it was the second quarter and the Cougars already trailed Lebanon by 19.

And it didn’t get much better after that.

Miscues, turnovers and missed opportunities plagued the Cougars under the lights at home and the end result was a 34-0 loss to Lebanon.

With 26 new varsity players and 20 new starters, the early part of the season was a big question mark.

“One thing you can’t overcome is inexperience. Only six of our kids had ever played a varsity game, but that is over now,” said coach Ryan McCartney. “We can’t say that anymore.”

Lebanon had senior leadership in key positions on the field, while ConVal did not — and it showed.

The Raiders scored touchdowns on their first two possession — the second one aided by quarterback John Crowley’s interception on the ConVal 39 yard line — to take a 13-0 lead with 6:49 left in the first. Lucas Gerow ran in a two-yard score and Dominick Morrill barreled in from a yard out.

Unfortunately for ConVal, things did not start out in a similar fashion.

The Cougars punted after three running plays to begin the game. Crowley’s interception came on second down on the next drive and another three-and-out ended the third possession.

ConVal finally got a stop with a few minutes remaining in the first on a fourth down incompletion, but again it led to just three plays, including a first down fumble that lineman John Norton recovered. Then a high snap over the head of punter Riordan McCole forced the senior to dive on the ball and give Lebanon great field position on the ConVal 27.

Three plays later, Lebanon’s senior quarterback Travis Hastings connected with Austin Pelletier for a 12-yard score and a 19-0 lead.

“They deserved to win. They capitalized and didn’t make any mistakes,” said McCartney.

ConVal finally got things rolling when junior Dakota Nute’s three-yard run on fourth-and-one from the ConVal 37-yard line produced the first first-down with 8:55 left in the first half. From there, the tandem of Nute and junior fullback Isaiah Taylor marched the ball down the field.

The Cougars got inside the Lebanon 20 only to have Crowley’s third down pass to junior wide receiver Brandon Carland intercepted by Pelletier at the half yard line.

The first possession of the second half led to another drive into Lebanon territory only to have a fourth-down conversion come up empty. Following Ethen Perkins’ 17-yard touchdown run for Lebanon to increase the ConVal deficit to 27, the Cougars threatened again.

A huge fourth-and-eight pass from Crowley to freshman Liam Baldwin for 16 yards got the Cougars inside the Lebanon red zone. Nute’s five-yard run got them to the 12, but the next play resulted in a fumble on the exchange between Crowley and Taylor, recovered by the Raiders.

“We had three really good drives where we drove 75 percent of the field and then we just couldn’t convert,” said McCartney. “We’ve just got to finish. Too many mistakes.”

Gerow added his second score of the game with a 78 yard run for a 34-0 Lebanon lead with just over four minutes left.

“We watched film and knew what was going on. We just couldn’t stop them. We need to work on tackling and wrapping up,” said Taylor.

In his debut at quarterback, Crowley finished 3-for-7 for 27 yards and two interceptions. His counterpart, Hastings, was 4-for-11 for 49 yards and a touchdown.

Nute led ConVal with 73 yards on 21 carries, while Taylor added 39 yards on nine carries after coming off the bench in the second quarter.

“I’ve been working to get to first string and when they put me in I just wanted to show what I had,” said Taylor.

Gerow had 145 yards on just 10 carries with two scores. Perkins also hit triple digits, rushing for 112 yards and a score.

Lebanon did not punt once on the night, but did turn the ball over on downs three times after going for it on fourth down. The Raiders also did not commit a turnover compared to three for ConVal.

The Cougars travel to Kingswood on Friday.

“We’re going to win some games. This is a good group of kids. They work hard and play together. I’m still confident we’re going to be in the playoffs,” said McCartney.

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