By Steve Svetovich
Coach Kevin McHale and his Dunmore Bucks finished the season strong, winning another district title, but lost to Bishop McDevitt, 28-13, in the PIAA Class 2A first round contest Friday, November 15.
Dunmore defeated Mid Valley, 42-7, to win the District 2, Class 2A title the week before. Junior back Cristian Buckley scored three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing, in the district title win.
Dunmore beat Susquehanna, 48-20, in the District 2, Class 2A semifinal, Friday, November 1, at Dunmore. Rayshaun Dawkins rushed for 173 yards and 6 touchdowns in the win.
Buckley rushed for 104 yards on 17 carries in the loss to Bishop McDevitt. He scored a touchdown on a 36-yard run.
Dawkins rushed for 85 yards on 14 carries in the loss to Bishop McDevitt. He scored a touchdown on a 10-yard run.
The Bucks rallied from a two touchdown deficit in the first half, but fell short against Bishop McDevitt in the state playoff contest.
“We never wavered or drifted,” said coach McHale. “That’s been the story of our season.”
Dunmore, after an 0-2 start this season, had a late season surge en route to the district title.
Dunmore’s Dylan Aquino recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the state playoff contest, but the Bucks could not capitalize.
The Bucks fumbled at the Royal Lancers 45 and then Corey Wright-Downing snared a 44-yard touchdown pass from University of Buffalo recruit Lonnie Rice with 6:47 left in the first quarter. The extra point kick was blocked.
Another Dunmore fumble led to Rice’s 22-yard touchdown strike to Ty Tindal. Dunmore’s David Reilly blocked the extra point kick attempt again and the Bucks were down, 12-0, with 8:39 left in the half.
Following five Dunmore runs, Buckley bolted through the right side and scored on a 36-yard run with 5:19 left in the half. Peyton Badyrka’s extra point kick attempt was wide and the Bucks were down, 12-6.
Buckley intercepted a Rice pass attempt giving the Bucks good field position on its 46. A few plays later, Badyrka attempted a 39-yard field goal that missed wide left after hitting the upright.
Dunmore chopped over seven minutes off the clock with a strong running game in the third quarter. Dawkins capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-two. Badyrka booted the extra point kick and the Bucks had a 13-12 lead with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
Rice then directed a five-play, 67-yard drive after Dunmore almost recovered a botched kickoff. Rice’s six-yard touchdown burst was followed by Akire Lillie’s two-point conversion run with 3:02 left in the third quarter to give McDevitt a 20-13 lead.
The Bucks had a chance when Dom Temperino picked off a Rice screen pass and galloped 36 yards to the McDevitt 18.
Dawkins ran the pigskin to the 12 and a face mask penalty put the Bucks at the three. But two false starts and a huge defensive play throwing by Division I recruit Tyrone Fowler throwing Buckley for a three yard loss hurt the drive. A fourth down incomplete pass completely stifled the drive.
Rice took over and led the Lancers to a game clinching 87-yard drive. He scored on a 25-yard run with 5:04 left in the game. The Lancers quarterback then ran into the end zone for two more points and a 28-13 Bishop McDevitt lead.
Rice finished with 155 yards rushing and two touchdown runs in the contest. He also passed for 127 yards and two scores.
“The effort was there and we never backed down,” coach McHale said.
He pointed to the team’s 0-2 start, but persevering to win the league and district titles.
“That’s a super accomplishment.”