AMHERST — Amherst let Lawrence-Nelson hang around in the first half. It turned out to be a costly mistake.
The Raiders busted off big third-quarter runs to take the lead, and Daniel Schroer’s interception in the endzone with one minute remaining in the game preserved a 20-18 victory for Lawrence-Nelson Thursday night.
“We probably played the worst half you could play and we still went into halftime only down one score, so we felt good about that,” Lawrence-Nelson coach Brian Blevins said. “For as hard as our boys compete, and how resilient they are… if we kept things close in the fourth I always felt like we could come out with the win, and that’s what we were able to do.”
The Raiders struck first in the second half, as Schroer ran a quarterback keeper 39 yards up the gut on a broken play to help put his team up 14-12.
“The running backs and quarterback weren’t on the same page for that play,” Blevins said. Fortunately for us the defense was keying so hard on our backs that it left (Schroer) wide open. Sometimes the chips just fall your way.”
Following an Amherst punt, Lawrence-Nelson’s Dillon Menke took a handoff 70 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the possession to put the Raiders up 20-12 with just under three minutes left in the third.
A one-eighty had been pulled on the Broncos, who had fired off to a quick start.
Already with a one-touchdown lead, Amherst’s Stuart Hircock recovered a Lawrence-Nelson fumble on the Raiders’ 2-yard line that led to a Devin Dibbern touchdown and a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Amherst recovered another fumble in the redzone on Lawrence-Nelson’s very next possession, but the Raider defense was able to force a turnover on downs.
It was the start of a downward trend for the Broncos.
“Wasted opportunities, time and time again,” Amherst coach Ron Evans said. “Usually we don’t do that — all season long we’ve capitalized on things, but tonight we just didn’t execute when it mattered. It was the little things that got us.”
There was a dropped pass with nothing but the endzone in sight. There was a 53-yard touchdown pass called back because quarterback Trey Taubenheim had just crossed the line of scrimmage before releasing the ball. There was a false start by the Amherst defense on a fourth down and four that kept a Lawrence-Nelson drive alive, the same drive that resulted in the Raiders’ first touchdown with just 31 seconds left in the first half.
Despite the struggles, the Amherst defense forced a turnover on downs on its own 10-yard line with 6:53 remaining to give the offense a chance to win the game.
Taubenheim was able to complete a first-down pass into Lawrence-Nelson territory to Breydon Eckhout on a fourth and 15, but Schroer’s interception just a few plays later sealed the game’s fate.
Menke led the Raiders’ ground game with 129 yards on 20 carries.
Amherst used a dual-quarterback system for the third week in the row. Taubenheim tossed for 97 yards, while Cale Preble threw for 39 yards and rushed for 36 yards.
“We needed to get them both on the field,” Evans said. “Each one of them has things they do well, so it gives us some more flexibility.”
Both Lawrence-Nelson (6-2) and Amherst (5-3) now wait to see where they sit in the Class D2 playoff bracket.
Lawrence-Nelson 20, Amherst 18
Score By Quarters
LAWRENCE-NELSON (6-2)......................0 6 14 0 — 20
AMHERST (5-3)...................6 6 0 6 — 18
AMHERST — Stuart Hircock 8 run (Run failed)
AMHERST — Devin Dibbern 1 run (Run failed)
LN — Dillon Menke 3 run (Run failed)
LN — Daniel Schroer 39 run (Menke run)
LN — Menke 70 run (Run failed)
AMHERST — Cale Preble 1 run (Pass failed)
First Downs 6 11
Rushes-Yards 43-203 45-130
Passes Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-6-0 8-18-1
Passing Yards 55 136
Total Yards 258 266
RUSHING — LN: Dillon Menke 20-129, Daniel Schroer 7-63, Wyatt Thayer 8-22, Chase Ehlers 4-7. AMH: Devin Dibbern 15-23, Cale Preble 11-36, Stuart Hircock 9-44, Trey Taubenheim 6-13, Breyden Eckhout 2-14, Mason Klingelhoefer 1-0, Colten Bergt 1-0.
PASSING — LN: Daniel Schroer 2-5-0, 55yds; Chase Ehlers 0-1-0, 0 yds. AMH: Trey Taubenheim 5-12-0, 97 yds; Cale Preble 3-6-1, 39 yds.
RECEVING — LN: Chase Ehlers 1-32, Josh Himmelberg 1-23. AMH: Stuart Hircock 4-61, Mason Klingelhoefer 2-32, Devin Dibbern 1-26, Breyden Eckhout 1-17.