Lakenheath squeaks by Vilseck to remain unbeaten
Stars and Stripes September 16, 2023
VILSECK, Germany — After battling it out with Vilseck on the ground and getting nowhere, the Lakenheath Lancers finally broke through in the air Friday.
Quarterback Nico Marchini connected with sophomore receiver David Kumi-Baah early in the fourth quarter for the game’s only score to give the Lancers a 7-0 victory over the Falcons.
“We knew if we were going to have a chance to stay with them we were going to need to air it out,” Lakenheath coach Gabe Feletar said. “Super proud of the guys to be able to pull that out at the end.”
The victory gave the Lancers a bit of revenge for the 25-14 victory in last season’s playoffs that knocked Lakenheath out of the playoffs.
Turnovers and penalties helped both defenses slow their opponents’ offenses in the first half. Neither team threw much and three of those passes were picked off.
“Once again, penalties and turnovers are what’s beating us,” Vilseck coach Eric Mead said. “We are the ones beating ourselves.”
The Falcons had looked to open the scoring in the third period, driving deep into Lancers’ territory. But Lakenheath held up on fourth down and then marched 80 yards down the field for the winning touchdown.
Vilseck, missing several banged-up members of its offensive line, also lost running back Junior DeJesus in the second half with a hamstring injury.
The Falcons converted a few fourth-down attempts to put together a small drive late, but the Lakenheath defense stiffened. The Lancers then ran out the clock, with senior Vincent LaStarza converting a key first down to wrap the game up.
With the victory, the Lancers stand alone atop the Division I standings after two weeks with a 2-0 record. Vilseck drops into a second-place tie with Kaiserslautern, Ramstein and Stuttgart.
Lakenheath hosts three-time defending champion Stuttgart next week, while Vilseck travels to Ramstein.