Lightning struck by Mount Hebron Varlotta's clutch plays help Vikings to 9-3 win

September 13, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron halfback Chris Varlotta summed up the feeling among his Viking teammates when they played host to Long Reach yesterday: "No one wanted to lose to a new school -- especially here."

Varlotta, a senior, rushed 12 times for 100 yards and made several key tackles as a linebacker to lead the Vikings (2-0) to a 9-3 victory over the Lightning.

Varlotta's 41-yard run on the first quarter's last play set up John Smith's tying 22-yard field goal.

And Varlotta's 9-yard pass reception put Mount Hebron at Long Reach's 3-yard line, setting up Smith's quarterback sneak for the winning touchdown, late in the second quarter.

"I had a linebacker in my face every pass play, so the dive was working all day long, and Chris took advantage of it," Smith said.

Smith completed only three of seven passes for 19 yards, but the one to Varlotta and a 10-yard toss to Ryan Douglas were crucial in the winning 52-yard touchdown drive. Also crucial were a face-mask penalty against Long Reach and an 11-yard run by Tim Kim.

Long Reach (1-1) drove 27 yards to Mount Hebron's 42-yard line in the closing 37 seconds of the half, and the Lightning nearly scored when Willy Bhafia caught a pass and was tackled out of bounds at the 2-yard line as time ran out. But the pass was nullifiedbecause quarterback Greg Matusewitch crossed the scrimmage line before throwing.

Mount Hebron opened the third quarter with a 52-yard drive that ended at Long Reach's 13-yard line with a fumbled snap that Lightning lineman Jonathan Moore recovered. Mount Hebron lost four fumbles, including one on a punt and one on a kickoff.

A fumbled punt in the fourth quarter set up Long Reach at Mount Hebron's 32-yard line. But Viking Sampson Kyere intercepted a pass at the 4.

Long Reach held Mount Hebron on downs and had a first down at the Vikings' 26 after a punt return. But Mount Hebron's defense stopped the Lightning when Jerome Yoon and Josh Smith sacked Matusewitch on fourth down.

"Yoon may not have made a lot of tackles, but he disrupts things in the middle, and our middle linebacker, Mike Havlik, played a great game," Mount Hebron coach Pat Crouse said. "This win meant a lot because there are a lot of teams in the county that are close. It helps us tremendously that our offensive and defensive lines are almost all one-way players."

Long Reach's offense, hoping to use its speed to attack Mount Hebron's perimeter, could not do it with regularity. "Our defense just stuck it to them," Smith said.

Pub Date: 9/13/96

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