The Lions forced 5 turnovers, and the offense made the most of their opportunities to win against Robert Morris 26-20.
The Lions rode their highest yardage output of the season to get the win in East Peoria.
The game started on a high note for the Lions, as they drove the field after getting three first downs along the way. The drive was highlighted by 22 yards of receiving by Zach Marengo along the way. Nick Howser tried to put through a 31-yard field goal, which went just wide right. The Eagles took over at their own 21 to start their first drive of the game. The Eagles looked to make the most of the missed kick but David Steeves and Eli Owen stopped the QB short on his scramble attempt forcing the Eagles to punt. The Lions took over on their own 12-yard line. The Lions once again showed promise throughout the drive getting four more first downs, while trying to drive the field. The Lions had first down plays by Jeremy Blanchette, Jamal Williams, and Zach Marengo; before the drive stalled out on the opposing 30 yard line.
Robert Morris struck quickly on the first play of their drive, Juan'ya Andrews took a toss broke two tackles and was gone for a 70-yard touchdown. On the following PAT Eli Christensen proceeded to block the PAT to keep the Eagle lead at 6-0. The Eagles looked to keep momentum forcing a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and recovered it deep in Trinity territory. After a defensive pass interference it looked like the Eagles could go up by two scores. That's when Jeremy Blanchette made the first momentum changing play for the Lions as he picked off a pass at the Lions 3 yard line then crossed field to return the ball 32 yards all the way out to the 35 yard line where the offense would make Robert Morris pay for the turnover.
It took one play for the Lions to get into Robert Morris territory as TJ Martinez found Alex Wattley for a quick pass and Wattley did the rest gaining 16 yards. After two more first downs the Eagles looked as if they might come up with their third stop after a sack by John Maebane which put the Lions outside the red zone; a false start seemed to take the mojo away from the Lions then, TJ Martinez found Alex Wattley on a slant route and he took it 31 yards for his first touchdown of the year! The PAT was missed right and the game was tied up at 6-6.
Robert Morris was quick to respond after a 41-yard kick return, the Eagles soon found a Juan'ya Andrews for 49 yards on a screen pass that he took in for a touchdown. The Eagles converted their two-point conversion to put them up 14-6. The Eagles then forced the Lions to go three and out. Jimmy King then boomed his longest punt of the year of 47 yards, which flipped the field position which forced Robert Morris to start the drive on their own 14. The Lions defense then came to play as they forced a three and out while putting the Eagles in reverse as they forced them into losing 7 yards on the drive. The Lions were set up with good field position as they started the drive in Robert Morris territory, but this time it was the Eagles who would come up with a big play. On a miscommunication, TJ Martinez's pass was then intercepted by James Washington at the Robert Morris 10.
The Lions defense then did something they have not done all year on the ensuing play, on a botched reverse attempt by Robert Morris that saw the ball loose in their own end zone which is where David Steeves would pounce on the ball for the first defensive touchdown of the year. Zach Marengo would find Jamal Williams in the end zone for the two-point conversion. The Lions tied it up 14-14. The Lions defense was not done as they quickly forced a three and out to give the offense a chance to take the lead which they did! The Lions drove 70 yards, which found Jeremy Blanchette taking a handoff into the end zone for a 20-14 lead. That would be the score heading into the second half.
The first drive of the second half saw both teams trade 15-yard penalties to keep Robert Morris on the field. On a first and ten, the first big play of the second half would happen when Eli Owen forced a strip sack which was recovered by Eli Christensen setting up the offense at the Robert Morris 38. Nine plays later Tj Martinez found Alex Wattley for his second touchdown of the day putting the Lions up 26-14.
The Eagles of Robert Morris would not let the game get away from them, as they put together a 75 yard drive highlighted by a 50 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Hamilton to Tremaine Thomas. The Eagles would fail on their conversion attempt making the score 26-20.
The score would stay at 26-20 until the clock struck zero in the fourth.
The Lions would force two more turnovers in the fourth quarter, and a stop on fourth down. Landen Bradley was key to the success of the Lions in the fourth as he forced a fumble, picked off a pass and added a first down on the game icing drive. David Steeves also muscled his way for two first downs on the last drive. TJ Martinez, on the Robert Morris 1 yard line, took the knee to finish the game.
The Lions out gained the Eagles 420 yard to 271 yards. The Lions had 24 first downs to the Eagles 13.The Lions forced 5 turnovers to the Eagles 3.
Tj Martinez threw for 266 yards and 3 TD's. Zach Marengo had 90 yards receiving and Alex Wattley added 88 yards and 2 TDs. Landen Bradley had 79 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
David Steeves lead the defense with 16 tackles and a TD. Eli Owen had 1.5 sacks. The Lions had 9 TFL's as a team, which is their highest total this year.
The Lions will be at home against Lawrence Tech on October, 6th and it's a noon kickoff.
Tanner Twigg SID