By Brandon Persinger
Special to the Advocate
After a week in which the football team’s roster began to take shape, the Elizabethtown Bears were hoping to put their 45-14 season-opening loss to the Cedar Cliff Colts behind them with a victory over the visiting Hershey Trojans.
But those hopes went unrealized as the Bears fell to the Trojans by the final score of 51-14 on Sunday, Sept. 11, in a game that was delayed from its regular Friday start time and moved to Hershey due to poor field conditions from the past week’s downpour.
“We weren’t very prepared,” Elizabethtown head coach Mike Cottle said. “They handled the adversity better than we did. We didn’t play well at all.”
After a week that featured more than one soggy practice session, the Bears were hoping that their hard work would pay dividends and enable them to execute their game plan of tough running and stingy defense early on to take control of the game.
But their efforts fell short as the Trojans marched their way a 24-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. Quarterback Zach Drayer frustrated the Elizabethtown defense all afternoon, completing 7 of his 9 pass attempts for a total of 164 yards and a touchdown. Drayer also added three rushing touchdowns to his stat line on Sunday.
Likewise, the Trojan defense, anchored by defensive lineman Harold Brantley, seemed to have no trouble keeping the Bears offense at bay. It wasn’t until a drive in the game’s third quarter that Elizabethtown was able to find the end zone.
The Bears also committed costly mistakes that contributed to the loss. The team committed a key fumble during a potential scoring drive and committed a number of false start penalties that pushed them back and prevented them from gaining offensive momentum.
“We had a fumble at a key situation when we were driving and a lot of mental things that shouldn’t have happened,” Cottle said.
But it was not all doom and gloom for the Bears. The team did get a pair of good performances from some key players.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive lineman Josh Cooper led the way by logging 12 tackles, including 10 unassisted.
And though the team did have its issues getting into the end zone, junior starting quarterback Max Daley completed 8 of his 14 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown throw to wide receiver Kirby Breault.
But perhaps most impressive was the breakout performance of Breault, who compiled 196 total yards against the Trojans (172 receiving, 24 rushing) and scored both of the team’s touchdowns.
“A couple of kids really stepped up and played better than the week before,” Cottle said.
After the game, Cottle was honest about the difficulty that the previous week’s weather had caused his football squad. But the coach was quick to remove any thought of using the rain as an excuse for the team’s uneven performance against the Trojans.
“We didn’t get to practice all week, but Hershey didn’t get to practice all week,” Cottle said. “I’m not going to make excuses because we didn’t get to practice. We’ve got to get better this week.”
The Bears will have a chance to right their season’s ship against the Manheim Township Blue Streaks. The game’s kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at Manheim Township High School.