By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — As the Lewisburg team walked off the field at halftime at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium at Bucknell University, it looked for all the world that the questions about the Green Dragons were starting again.
A week after seemingly getting its running game going, Lewisburg struggled in the first half against Shikellamy and trailed by a touchdown.
“We were disappointed by our first half,” Lewisburg quarterback Nick Costagliola said. “But we knew what we had to move the ball in the second half.”
That’s exactly what the Green Dragons did, using Costagliola’s legs instead of his arm to control the clock and defeat Shikellamy 14-7 on homecoming.
Up until the final drive of the opening half, Shikellamy had outgained Lewisburg 202-43, but the Green Dragons put together a hurry-up drive down to the Shikellamy 25, before being stopped on downs.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Lewisburg as the Green Dragons used a pistol-set with two wideouts to each side of the formation on most of the drive.
“(The final drive of the first half) was big. Obviously you want the points, but we saw something that was working for us,” Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn said. “We took the ball right down the field to start the second half.”
Rather than throw out of the pistol set, Lewisburg ran the ball, mostly with Costagliola, who finished the game with 21 carries for 95 yards and both Lewisburg touchdowns.
“We saw what they were doing in the first half against that formation in our final drive (of the first half) and great job by our coaching staff to make that adjustment and go with that in the second half,” Winn said. “Our kids did a great job executing.”
The Green Dragons controlled the clock in the second half, holding the ball for 15:43.
“We saw they only had at most five guys in the box (against that formation),” Costagliola said. “It’s a credit to our offensive line.”
Lewisburg took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 70 yards in nine plays, all but one coming on the ground. Costagliola scored on a six-yard run with 7:28 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
The team’s exchanged punts, before the Green Dragons took advantage of a Shikellamy fumble to set up the game-winning score. Costagliola snuck in from two yards out with 10:52 left in the game to take a 14-7 advantage.
The Green Dragons’ defense forced another turnover when Drew Newcomb picked off his fifth pass of the season on a halfback option attempt.
It’s been the story of Shikellamy’s season as once again a talented Braves team was hindered by its own mistakes. Shikellamy turned the ball over three times, committed eight penalties, including a crucial offside on a fourth-and-two play from the Lewisburg 48.
“This is very frustrating,” Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford said. “We are just going to have to take a deep breath and regroup.”
Lewisburg took advantage of the turnover to take 7:03 off the clock, but couldn’t come up with any points after a missed 38-yard field goal.
The Braves had a chance for the tying score as senior quarterback Garrett Kemberling guided the Braves to a first-and-10 at the Lewisburg 16 with 40 seconds left. Shikellamy got two shots at the end zone, but Ben Frankel broke up one pass and the final pass of the game fell incomplete.
The Braves took a 7-0 lead late in the second quarter. Shikellamy went 85 yards in nine plays, capped by Dwayne Pepper’s seven-yard TD run with 2:03 left in the first half. Ryan Wary had a 36-yard run on the drive, while Kemberling hit Jean Turber with a 22-yard pass to convert a second-and-20.