Royals use big plays to stay in playoff hunt
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 30, 2017
Note: This article has been corrected.
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Breakaway plays and key penalties led to a 27-12 football victory for Ramstein in its visit to England on a rare sunny Saturday afternoon.
Right before kickoff, Royals coach Carter Hollenbeck could be heard yelling: “Start fast fellas, start fast,” to his players from the sideline. But it wasn’t until late in the first quarter that both teams scored.
A rushing touchdown by Lancer quarterback Jordan Harris was immediately answered by an 83-yard kickoff return by Jackie Harris.
The Royals scored quickly again at the start of the second quarter with the only touchdown pass of the game from Trevor Miller to Naser Eaves for 51 yards.
Ramstein scored first and last in the second half with a 20-yard rush by J.J. Little in the third and a 32-yard sprint by Gevaughn Bracy with 8 seconds left.
Ramstein led the land battle with Bracy gaining 108 rushing yards, Connor Davey 75 and Little 57.
Lakenheath running back Ion Duenas rushed for 157 yards in 21 carries, Harris had 49 yards on nine carries and fullback Manny Cordero added a short rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Both teams were plagued by penalties and poor execution that halted scoring drives at key moments. Fumbles caused back-to-back turnovers in the second quarter and the Lancers failed two fourth-down conversions in the red zone.
Hollenbeck admitted that it wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter that he began to pick up the tendencies of Lakenheath’s new offensive scheme.
“Lakenheath is hard-hitting, strong team and they’re just getting better and better,” Hollenbeck said after the game. “They’re well organized and they know what they’re doing.”
With only 25 players on the Lakenheath roster, Lancers such as Cordero had to play throughout the game. He went from firing up the defense, to rushing for a touchdown and then kicking off the ball.
“He’s the heart and soul of the team and he gets everyone fired up,” Lancer coach Gabe Feletar said. “He can kind of do it all, but he’s also a very unselfish player and puts the team first.”
The Lancers need to win the next two games in order to secure a fourth seed in this year’s playoffs.
“Every game has been close, even if the scores don’t always reflect that,” Feletar said. “Everyone here knows it was a close game, so we’re going to break through and hopefully carry that motivation on to the playoffs.”
The Royals are looking forward to taking advantage of the upcoming bye week in the schedule for all DODEA teams.
“It allows us to rest, heal, focus on grades and continue to get better,” Hollenbeck said.