Lester, Dieruff edge Indians in OT
Playmakers are known for one thing making big plays.
And there's no doubt that Dieruff's Shakur Lester is one special playmaker.
On Friday night, the Huskies' talented skill player scored all five of his team's touchdowns including a game-tying 86-yarder with 50 seconds left in regulation and a 10-yarder in overtime and totaled 246 yards from scrimmage to send host Lehighton to a crushing 35-34 Mountain Valley Conference defeat.
"It's tough right now after a loss like that," said Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll, who was Lester's running back coach at Catasauqua two years ago. "I'm proud of the player he is now and the competitor he is. He's a great kid and he's obviously a big reason why Dieruff has been able to turn things around.
"He makes people miss. You know he's getting the ball. We made some adjustments at halftime and it worked because we certainly got the momentum back ... We took control of the second half. They only made a few plays in the second half, but they were big ones."
The biggest, obviously, was at the end of regulation.
Faced with a 21-7 halftime deficit, the Indians (2-3; 1-3) rallied by scoring on three consecutive possessions. A turnover led to the first score a 25-yard pass from Tyler Cann to Tyler Crum while back-to-back 11-play drives both ended in the end zone. Tom Ruzicka's 15-yard scamper helped knot the contest and Cann's 15-yard TD toss to Nick Newton gave Lehighton a 28-21 advantage with 5:25 to play.
When Newton's short sideline kickoff was recovered by the host team and they drove the ball inside the Huskies' 10-yard line, it looked like the Indians were on their way to securing the comeback win.
But on a fourth and goal from the five, the Tribe came away with no points when Cann's pass got batted down with 1:19 left to play.
"I know my decision (not to kick a field goal) will be criticized and that's fine," said McCarroll, whose team ran 38 second-half plays to Dieruff's 10 up to that point. "I'll sleep well with that decision and I'll do it 10 out of 10 times again. We had momentum. I believe in our kids to make plays and I believed they would make a play, whether it was on offense or defense. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way.
"We thought about the field goal, absolutely. I talked to my coaches and had some feedback. We were on the five and had momentum. If we score there, it's game over and a dagger in the heart. I'm sure people on the outside will question it ... I just had faith in our kids there."
Even without scoring, the Huskies were forced to go 95 yards in a little over a minute just to force overtime. For some teams, that's near impossible. But for one with an athlete like Lester, it's always a possibility.
Dieruff's quarterback Chris Marks scrambled for nine yards and on the next play threw a quick out to Lester. The junior avoided tacklers, got to the sideline and outraced everybody to the end zone.
"My blood pressure went through the roof, what a game," said Huskie mentor Kyle Beller. "It was a tale of two halves there. We played our game and were fast in the first half. They came out and played Lehighton football in the second half. They pounded it at us.
"They didn't go for the field goal there and wanted to seal the deal and our guys held them four downs inside the 10. I was a little surprised they didn't kick it but at the same time they were taking it to us, why not finish it off. I don't blame him for doing that.
"Lester's a playmaker. He's hard to defend. Every time he touches the ball he can go to the house. We have a few kids like that, but he's a special one."
The Huskies (3-2; 1-2) actually lined up for two after Lester's long TD but a penalty changed their mind and kicker Andreh Nehmeh sent the game to OT with his conversion.
Lehighton regained the lead when Wyatt Clements, who scored the game first touchdown, reached the end zone from six yards on second down. Unfortunately for the Tribe, their extra-point attempt was wide.
Lester got the call on Dieruff's first attempt in overtime and manuevered his way for a 10-yard tally. Nehmeh added the game-winner moments later.