Running game leads to big win for Burrell over Deer Lakes

Friday, September 27, 2019 | 10:55 PM

Burrell coach Shawn Liotta is known for his creative offensive mind.

On Friday night, Liotta dug into his bag of tricks, but not in an exciting, pass-the-ball-all-over-the-field way. He trusted his offensive linemen and went old school as the Bucs ran the ball 50 times.

He leaned on senior running back Mikey Scherer, who had 33 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns. But Liotta also called more than 10 quarterback sneaks for Alex Arledge, and the junior quarterback produced 51 yards as the Bucs took down Deer Lakes, 16-14, in a crucial Class 3A Big East Conference matchup.

“Our kids really got behind it tonight. You could see the piles moving all night long,” Liotta said. “If you were a fan of old-school football, throwback football, you would’ve liked what we did out there tonight.”

On their second offensive drive, Scherer and the Bucs’ running game took over. The senior displayed a style of running Liotta compared to a jackhammer. Time and time again, Scherer plunged head first into the line of scrimmage and came out with positive yards.

He carried the ball eight times on a 12-play drive, and his final carry went 11 yards into the end zone. A Logan Phillips 2-point conversion gave Burrell (4-2, 3-2) an 8-0 lead.

“We just had a lot of heart tonight,” Burrell senior linemen Ricky Feroce said. “We knew what we had to do. We executed it, and we got it done.”

The rivals played solid defense throughout the remainder of the first half. Early in the third quarter, the Deer Lakes defense took it a step further.

Alex Arledge threw a pass that was ruled a backward lateral. It was dropped, and Deer Lakes linebacker Jack Hollibaugh picked it up and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown.

“We talked about having a will and a want,” Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk said. “In the first half, (Burrell’s) will and want was more than ours.”

The Burrell offense marched right back down the field and leaned on Scherer once again.

This time, he ran the ball 13 times. On the 12th play, Arledge converted a fourth-and-2 with a 2-yard sneak. Then, Scherer bullied his way into the end zone from the 9-yard line for his second touchdown.

“Tonight, the run was there, so I’m not going to outsmart myself,” Liotta said. “Whatever is working, we’re going to continue to do until they can stop it, and to our kids credit, they were able to continue to do it.”

The Lancers (3-3, 3-2) responded on a 15-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Yoder, but it still left them two points short. The game was decided two drives later. The Bucs brought Hasley down on a fourth-and-5 and then continued to convert two third downs on their ensuing drive to run out the clock.

“This feels great. This was a big win,” Scherer said. “This puts us on the map, I think.”

Next week both teams will face another tough conference opponent as Deer Lakes heads to Freeport to face off with the Yellowjackets. Burrell takes a trip to Mt. Pleasant.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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