There are a great many lessons that young athletes need to learn if they’re to be successful. And the youthful Londonderry High football team received a rather loud message regarding the importance of intensity and focus in practices last week.
Heading into his team’s Friday night, Sept. 11 game against the Timberlane Owls in Plaistow, Lancers’ coach Jim Lauzon was a little anxious about what kind of performance his 1-0 gridders might put forth after going through a rather disappointing week of practice sessions.
The LHS crew managed a underwhelming performance in the 28-7 loss – particularly on offense – against a Timberlane troop which dropped its first decision of the 2015 campaign (14-9 to Exeter) and was intent upon showing its fans what it could accomplish on its home gridiron in week two.
Londonderry’s only points on the night came on the long run-back of a Timberlane fumble by senior safety Dave Wiedenfeld late in the second quarter. That play left the Lancers with a 7-6 lead, but the locals would only be ahead for 54 seconds, and it was pretty much downhill from there.
“We didn’t execute well in practice, and you can’t expect to have a tough week of practice and then come out and get it done in the game,” said Lauzon. “I don’t want to take anything away from Timberlane, but I feel like we lost this one tonight.”
The now 1-1 host Owls ran for 241 yards and passed for another 80 in enjoying their success, with do-it-all senior Jason Hughes making his presence felt all over the field.
It was Hughes’ fumble which Wiedenfeld ran back for the local’s lone score, but very little else went wrong for the Timberlane signal-caller/defensive back/kicker that evening.
Hughes rushed for 100 yards and threw for all 80 passing yards which his offense compiled.
Londonderry came out aggressive with versatile veteran Wiedenfeld connecting on a 34-yard pass with receiver Cam McDonald on the first play of the game. The Lancers then marched all the way down the field to the Timberlane two, but ended up turning the football over on downs without scoring.
Londonderry handed the football over on a fumble at its own 7-yard-line on its next possession, and one play later the Owls were celebrating their first touchdown. Lancer defender Zach Garside then had the first of his three extra-point blocks on the night, and the Timberlane lead sat at 6-0 with 4:27 remaining in the opening quarter.
The score remained there until just 56.7 seconds were left in the half and Timberlane’s Hughes fumbled the ball away on the LHS 15, with Wiedenfeld scooping it up and sprinting 85 yards in the other direction to knot the score at 6-6.
Nick Donnelly added the extra-point, and Londonderry had its only lead of the night.
The hosts put the remaining seconds to great use, zipping down the field and having Hughes boot a 38-yard field goal with 2.2 seconds left on the clock to make the score 9-7 in Timberlane’s favor.
The Owls came out flying in the second half, putting together a six-play drive which covered 60 yards in 3:24 and ended with the home team grasping a 16-7 advantage.
Londonderry turned the football over twice in the second half – on a fumble and then a pass interception (by the omnipresent Jason Hughes no less!)- and very little went right for the locals during half number two.
After managing a modest 143 yards worth of offense in the first half, the Lancers had a total of a little over 50 in periods three and four.
“I thought (Timberlane) gave us some great looks, but we just didn’t get very much done. Just a struggle all-around,” said Lauzon.