Turnover-Plagued Trojans Trounced By E-town

By Mike Nortrup

Hershey quarterback Ryan Nerino fumbles after getting pummeled by Elizabethtown’s Blaze Roush. Photo: Nathan Merkel. Hershey quarterback Ryan Nerino fumbles after getting pummeled by Elizabethtown’s Blaze Roush. Photo: Nathan Merkel.

The Hershey Trojans knew they would face a good football team as they rode to Elizabethtown on Friday night.

They also knew the Bears were tough enough to beat as it was, and the last thing they wanted to do was help them out.

Unfortunately for Hershey, that’s exactly what it did. The Trojans fumbled nine times, losing three, and threw two interceptions. In another miscue, they handed Elizabethtown the ball deep in their own territory after a bad punt snap.

The Bears rewarded the generosity by thrashing Hershey 42-0. The loss to non-league Elizabethtown evens the Trojans’ record at 1-1 in the season’s early going. Elizabethtown, 2-0, has outscored its two opponents 70-0.

There was a bad omen as soon as the Trojans ran onto Thompson Field. Tight end/defensive end Drew Painter, who was taken out of last week’s game, was on crutches. The senior has a broken foot, and a pin has been inserted.

Elizabethtown’s Cade Robinson and Luke Pierson (above left) celebrate after scoring a touchdown. Hershey’s Jay Rodriguez (above right) is brought down to the turf by a horde of E-town players. Photos: Nathan Merkel. Elizabethtown’s Cade Robinson and Luke Pierson (above left) celebrate after scoring a touchdown. Hershey’s Jay Rodriguez (above right) is brought down to the turf by a horde of E-town players. Photos: Nathan Merkel. Trojans head coach Frank Isenberg says Painter’s return this year is uncertain.

Senior Daniel Sheehan replaces him at those positions.

The game actually didn’t begin as a blowout. The teams were scoreless until about three minutes into the second quarter. Had Hershey protected the ball, things might have been a whole lot different.

But in one disastrous four-minute span, the Trojans fumbled the ball away three times, and the Bears converted the three turnovers into touchdowns. Then, Hershey threw an interception, which led to a fourth touchdown and a 28-0 halftime lead for Elizabethtown.

The Bears had little trouble moving the ball even though the Trojans held them off in the game’s early stages.

Bears quarterback Cole Patrick, given ample time to throw, picked the Hershey defense apart, completing 10 of 13 passes for 218 yards and two scores. Four completions were 26 yards or longer.

While Patrick’s speedy receivers frequently got open on deep routes, Isenberg wouldn’t blame his defensive backs.

“We just gave them too much time. We have some good athletes in the secondary. But when you give the quarterback that much time, you can’t stop them,” he said.

Elizabethtown running backs Cayden Livingston and Devyn Clair gouged huge holes in the Hershey line, particularly as the game wore on. Clair scored three touchdowns in the contest.

The Bears mounted an impressive nine-play opening drive that reached the Trojans 7-yard line. However, the Livingston 20-yard run that got them there was nullified by a holding penalty. Elizabethtown eventually missed a 43- yard field goal.

Hershey, hoping to benefit from running back Jack Shea’s speed, began as it did last week against Camp Hill by trying to get him outside.

However, Elizabethtown had it defensed. Three pitchout attempts would ultimately end in fumbles and the others gained little yardage.

Hershey sabotaged its opening drive in fact when quarterback Ryan Nerino and back Shea misfired on a pitch-out and lost 17 yards.

Another botched pitch-out to Shea on Hershey’s next possession also resulted in a fumble and cost the Trojans 20 more yards. Hershey recovered the ball but was stuck deep in its territory. Hershey fumbled again on its next play and recovered that one, too.

It wasn’t so lucky when it fumbled a third time.

Elizabethtown recovered that fumble by Hershey back Anthony Zimmerman on the Trojan 6-yard line.

Livingston ran the 6 yards for a touchdown on the first play to put Elizabethtown up 6-0 at 9:32 of the second quarter. Zimmerman, though, blocked David Shank’s extra point try.

After the kickoff, Isenberg inserted sophomore Josh Rodriguez at quarterback.

“I wanted a change of pace. Both have different skill sets. Ryan reads defenses really well. (Rodriguez) can add a little spring to the offense and make big plays,” the coach said.

The move didn’t help though. His team was plagued by turnovers and other mistakes throughout Rodriguez’s time on the field, and Nerino was back in before the half.

After Elizabethtown kicked off, Trojan running back Samuel Carlson fumbled at the Hershey 38 and Elizabethtown wasted no time in taking advantage of it.

Two plays later, Patrick hit Alex Diahn with a 34-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone.The two-point conversion made it 14-0 at 7:04.

Carlson fumbled again on the next Trojan possession after nearly breaking free at midfield. Elizabethtown recovered at its 42.

Three plays later, Patrick hit Caleb Gaumer with a 28- yard touchdown strike, and it was suddenly 21-0 with 5:30 left in the second quarter.

Elizabethtown defensive back Dane Hilsher hauled in an interception on the next series, giving his team the ball at Elizabethtown’s 33-yard line.

The Bears moved quickly, and Clair ran in from the Hershey 3 to make it 28-0 at halftime.

Guard David Still said his team wasn’t able to carry its success in practice forward into games.This was particularly true on the running plays to the outside that resulted in either no gain or fumbles.

“We missed assignments and failed to do the little things. We did them all week in practice, but then we forgot our assignments (against Elizabethtown),” he said.

“But (the game) was not a true show of what we are capable of. We have the skill and talent to do a lot better than 42-0.”

However, Hershey did make consistent yardage running up the middle between the tackles, just as it had the week before. In fact, Carlson rushed for 88 yards.

Guards Still and Tim Zeiber, along with center Miguel Cabrera, were key blockers.

Still explained that Isenberg’s change from last year’s passing offense to this year’s emphasis on the run is largely responsible for the team’s success on inside running plays.

“We used a passive stance last year so we could passblock. This season, we take a more aggressive stance that helps us get off the ball quicker,” the senior explained.

Though down 28-0, Hershey nevertheless started well on its opening drive of the second half.

Three up-the-middle bursts by Carlson picked up 33 yards and moved to the Trojans’ 43-yard line.

But Nerino, rushed hard all night, was sacked on third down and Hershey had to punt.

Starting from its 34, Elizabethtown scored in six plays. The longest was a 31-yard aerial from Patrick to Gaumer that carried down to the Hershey 20.

Two plays later, Clair rumbled untouched 9 yards to score. Shank’s point-after made it 35-0 with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

A high snap that sailed over punter Joey Corado’s head led to the final Bears’ score in the fourth quarter. Elizabethtown took over at Hershey’s 20-yard line, and Clair took it the 20 on the first play from scrimmage for his third touchdown of the night.

Hershey got the the ball inside the Bears’ 40 on its next possession but the drive stalled.

And Elizabethtown was finally through scoring.

As his team prepared to ride home, Carlson looked back over the rough night.

”They are a good team, and we knew we had to bring our “A” game. We didn’t do it. But nobody gave up. Some other (Hershey) teams would have, but we fought until the end,” he said.

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