Spaulding's interception sparks Lewisburg win over Shikellamy

By: Lewisburg Football | PIAA District IV | October 6, 2019


SUNBURY — Shikellamyh quarterback Cade Balestrini took a shot on his shin in the second quarter of Saturday's Lewisburg-Shikellamy contest.

His backup was needed for just one play.

It turned out to be the biggest play of the game.

Shikellamy's backup played just one play, but Lewisburg linebacker Ethan Spaulding took full advantage.

Spaulding returned an interception 35 yards to help spark a 28-point second quarter to help Lewisburg to a 49-30 win over Shikellamy in Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I action on Saturday.

"I know it defintely got our sideline up," Spaulding, a senior linebacker, said. "We were a little quiet at the beginning, but that got us goi

Lewisburg coach Marc Persing felt something strange in the locker room before the game.

It was a feeling that had troubled him the whole week.

"The whole vibe this week was just off. We didn't have the best week of practice. I don't know if we were going through a little (injuried tailback) Max (Moyers) withdraw," Persing said. "The kids weird in the locker room.

"I told some of the guys on the staff, we're going to be in a ball game."

For a quarter-and-a half, the Braves and Lewisburg exchanged blows, but when Spaulding picked off a pass in a seven-point game in the second quarter — in the midst of 28 straight Green Dragons touchdown, it changed the game.

The victory gives Lewisburg (5-2 overall, 3-1 HAC-I) a chance to split the HAC-I title with a victory next week at home over Jersey Shore (4-3, 3-0 HAC-I). If the Green Dragons win and Selinsgrove and Jersey Shore each beat Central Mountain, Lewisburg, Jersey Shore and the Seals would split the title.

Lewisburg (5-2 overall, 3-1 HAC-I) scored first, taking the opening kickoff 68 yards in five plays. Sophomore Ethan Dominick (three catches, 97 yards) caught a 49-yard TD pass from Nick Shedleski after Dominick was wide open on the right sideline.

"We knew with just the way (Shikellamy) lined up on defense, they would have trouble covering the back out of the backfield," Persing said. "So we went to that early."

After the teams exchanged punts, Shikellamy (1-6, 1-3 HAC-I) answered with a 10-play, 61-yard drive. The Braves picked up their first, first down on a 23-yard pass to tight end Conner Fitzgerald on the second play of the drive, which opened up the running game. Shikellamy ran on eight of the next nine plays, helped by a late hit when quarterback Drew Balestrini was running with the ball. Balestrini capped the drive with a one-yard sneak on fourth down from inside the goal line. The extra point was blocked by Spaulding, cutting the Lewisburg lead to 7-6 with 2:34 left in the first quarter.

The Greeen Dragons answered with a Shedleski sneak for a touchdown set up by Dominick taking a screen pass 47 yards on third-and-9 down to the 1. Shikellamy answered right back, driving 80 yards in six plays. Balestrini scrambled 18 yards and had a personal foul penalty tacked on to the end of it. Mason Brubaker set up Zahki Nettles one-yard TD run with a nifty 29-yard diving catch down to the 1. Balestrini dove for the pylon to complete the two-point conversion and tie the game at 14-14.

Sheldeski kept coming up with big plays in the passing game for the Green Dragons. He hit Spaulding for 46 yards as the tight end snuck down the middle of the field out of the double wing formation. Later in the drive, Shedleski scrambled to his left on a third-and-14 and found Simeon Beiler in the end zone with 9:57 left in the first half to give the Green Dragons a 21-14 lead.

"It's funny, we joke, he had success one week getting himself out of the some stick situations and now he thinks he's Mike Vick. He even does in practice, now," Persing joked. "It's the first time we've seen it in three years.

"Seriously, it was another fantastic game by Nick."

The game's turning point came on the Braves next drive. Balestrini was took a helmet on the shin on a second down play that set up a third-and-three. Shikellamy tried a screen to Nettles on the next play and Spaulding stepped in front and ran untouched for the 35-yard TD and a 28-14 lead.

"I read on that play that it was a young quarterback and he kept staring at Zahki before the play started," Spaulding said. "I said, 'Oh, it's defintely going to him.' So, I just jumped it."

Lewisburg's offense stayed hot, scoring on its final two poasessions of the first half to build a 42-14 halftime advantage. Gavin Sheriff had 10-yard TD run on jet sweep with 4:29 left in the first half, before Spaulding scored on five-yard run out of the WIldcat with 37 seconds left in the first half.



Lewisburg (5-2)`14`28`0`7 — 49

Shikellamy (1-6)`6`8`8`8 — 30


First quarter

Lew-Ethan Dominick 49 pass from Nick Shedleski (Ben Liscum kick)

Shik-Drew Balestrini 1 run (kick blocked)

Lew-Nick Shedleski 1 run (Liscum kick)

Second quarter

Shik-Zahki Nettles 1 run (Balestrini kick)

Lew-Simeon Beiler 16 pass from Shedleski (Liscum kick)

Lew-Ethan Spaulding 35 interception return (Liscum kick)

Lew-Gavin Sheriff 10 run (Liscum kick)

Lew-Spaulding 5 run (Liscum kick)

Third quarter

Shik-Coltyn Sempko 47 run (Balestrini run)

Fourth quarter

Lew-Dominick 17 run (Liscum kick)

Shik-Brayden Long 54 pass from Balestrini (Sempko run)



First downs`16`17

Rushes-net yards`40-134`34-192

Passing yards`218`178





RUSHING — Lewisburg: Ethan Dominick 17-90, TD; NIck Shedleski 15-22, TD; Gavin Sheriff 4-10, TD; Cam Michaels 1-9; Ethan Spaulding 1-5, TD; team 2-(-2). Shikellamy: Drew Balestrini 13-75, TD; Coltyn Sempko 4-62, TD; Nate Minnier 4-24; Eric Shoch 1-15; Joel Derr 6-10; Zahki Nettles 6-6, TD. 

PASSING — Lewisburg: Shedleski 8-14-0 for 218 yards, 2 TDs. Shikellamy: Balestrini 8-23-2 for 150 yards, TD; Jon Gittens 1-1-0 for 28 yards; Mason Brubaker 0-1-1.

RECEIVING — Lewisburg: Dominick 3-97, TD; Spaulding 1-46; Jack Landis 1-38; Sheriff 1-17; Simeon Beiler 1-16, TD; Dante Sims 1-4.