Lehman Catholic football gets halftime message in 51-34 win over Graham


By Rob Kiser

rkiser@dailycall.com

Lehman Catholic coach Richard Roll smiled when asked about what he said to his team during halftime of Saturday night’s 51-34 win over Graham at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.

“I think the kids got the message,” Roll said.

In a big way.

After rushing for just 65 yards on 18 carries in the opening half and trailing 21-10 at the break, the Lehman offense exploded for 361 yards on 36 carries in the second half, stunning Graham with 21 points in the first 9:55 of the third quarter and outscoring the Falcons 41-13 in the second half.

“We were flat in warmups, we were flat in the first half,” Lehman running back Owen Smith, who had 118 of his 217 yards rushing in the second half, said. “Coach just talked about us doing our jobs. It was time to start playing like we can and doing what we should be doing. That’s what we did. The coaches pulled five or six players aside and told them it was time for us to start playing like we can.”

And Graham never knew what hit them.

Lehman started with a six-play, 55-yard drive and followed it with a six-play 51-yard drive after a Graham three-and-out.

Both finished with six-yard TD runs by Brandon Barhorst and PAT kicks by Michael Denning and Lehman had a 24-21 lead it would not surrender.

Following another Graham three-and-out, Lehman went 63 yards in seven plays.

Barhorst had an 18-yard run down to the one and Smith took it in from there. Denning’s kick made it 31-21 with 2:55 left in the third quarter.

“It was just a tremendous half from the offense,” Roll said. “Really, the defense too. Graham’s two scores came off big plays.”

And the guy who seemed to be making them all night for the Falcons was junior running back Layne Brayton.

Brayton had 91 yards rushing, 156 yards receiving and answered the Lehman flurry with a 91-yard kickoff return to the Lehman two-yard line and ran it in on the next play.

That got Graham back within 31-28 after Dalton Oder’s kick.

“It is disappointing because we talked all week about him (Layne Brayton) looking to make big plays,” Roll said. “Really, he hurts us out of the backfield.”

Lehman wasn’t done.

The Cavaliers added a fourth-touchdown in the quarter, going 65 yards.

Quarterback Elliott Gilardi ran 26 yards down to the six, then took it in from there on the next play. The PAT failed, leaving Lehman up 37-28.

“We didn’t stop,” Roll said. “We just kept going.”

But, Brayton didn’t either.

On the third play of the fourth quarter, he caught a short pass from quarterback Gage Braun and turned it into a 76-yard touchdown. The PAT failed, but Graham was back within 37-34.

After both teams had to punt, Lehman put together the biggest drive and play of the game.

The Cavaliers took over with just over seven minutes to go on their own 28.

After a 41-yard TD run by Smith was called back on a holding penalty, Lehman found its self in a third-and-12 on the Graham 43 with just over four minutes remaining.

Gilardi spotted receiver Bradly Haines along with sideline and Haines did a great job coming back to the ball for a 23-yard reception to keep the drive alive.

On the next play, Smith rumbled 20 yards for a TD and Denning’s kick made it 44-34 with 3:53 remaining.

“That was a huge play,” Roll said. “What a huge catch by Bradly (Haines). That was a big, big play. Everyone contributed and that was huge, because we were only leading by three at the time.”

After another Graham three-and-out, a Smith drive would finish things off.

The three-play drive from 45 yards was consecutive Smith carries of 26, 7 and 12 yards.

“We knew what we had to do in the second half and we went out and did it,” Smith said.

Ironically, the game had started with the Lehman defense stopping Graham and the Cavaliers going right down the field on their first possession.

Kameron Lee hauled in a 19-yard pass from Gilardi and after a pass interference, Gilardi ran it in from 12 yards out and Denning’s kick made it 7-0.

But, Braun would run two yards for a score, Brayton caught an 80-yard TD pass from Braun and after a Denning 27-yard field goal, a 55-yard run by Brayton set up him running it in from one-yard out to give the Falcons a 21-10 halftime lead.

“We had a game like this against Fairbanks a few years ago, where we didn’t step on their throats after we had them down,” Roll said. ‘The first half was kind of like that. But, we came out in the second half and didn’t stop.”

Smith finished with 217 yards on 27 carries, while Gilardi rushed for 140 on 16 carries and completed seven of 14 passes for 83 yards with two interceptions.

Barhorst had 69 yards rushing and Lee had four receptions for 50 yards.

Braun completed 12 of 21 passes for 247 yards, with 156 coming on the two big hookups with Brayton.

Lehman, 2-1, will open NWCC play at Ridgemont Friday — and Roll hopes the Cavaliers will get the message from the start.

Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.

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Rob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic receiver Kameron Lee fights for yardage after the catch against Graham Saturday.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2017/09/web1_kameronlee-1.jpgRob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic receiver Kameron Lee fights for yardage after the catch against Graham Saturday.

Rob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic’s Owen Smith rushed for more than 200 yards Saturday night against Graham.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2017/09/web1_owensmith-1.jpgRob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic’s Owen Smith rushed for more than 200 yards Saturday night against Graham.

Rob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic’s Brandon Barhorst breaks a jersey tackle Saturday against Graham.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2017/09/web1_brandonbarhorst-1.jpgRob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic’s Brandon Barhorst breaks a jersey tackle Saturday against Graham.

Rob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic quarterback Elliott Gilardi finds running room Saturday against Graham at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2017/09/web1_elliottgilardi-1.jpgRob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic quarterback Elliott Gilardi finds running room Saturday against Graham at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.

Rob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic coach Richard Roll delivers a message to his players during the first half Saturday night.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2017/09/web1_richardroll-1.jpgRob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic coach Richard Roll delivers a message to his players during the first half Saturday night.

Rob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic’s Logan Richard has his hands on Graham’s Layne Brayton as Braiden Sherman (40) closes in.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2017/09/web1_sherman4.jpgRob Kiser/Call Photo Lehman Catholic’s Logan Richard has his hands on Graham’s Layne Brayton as Braiden Sherman (40) closes in.