SELINSGROVE, PA – A game that will go down in history as one of the largest events in eight man semi pro history exceeded expectations on the field. The Lancaster County Cyclones, led by QB Greg Medina threw for four touchdown passes and ran for five, overcame some early mistakes to win 63-51 over the Upper Dauphin Comanche.
The game was to be a celebration of the Great Eastern Football Association’s fifteen years of being a league and they went all out. Selinsgrove High School Stadium was the perfect site for this event. Over 600 people got to see this game play out and over 10k got to view it on the HSG Network. Even the Selinsgrove High School band, which performed at half time, was perfect.
Defensive end Jimmy Buckner had 1.5 sacks and 4 tackles for loss to go with his game high 11 tackles. The Cyclones defense seemed confused at times, not being able to stop the running attack by Comanche QB Brandon Derr. After losing their gap clogging nose guard, Ray Chant-Smith in the conference championship a week prior, it was Buckner who stepped up his game and provided the much needed spark.
Keystone Bowl 15 didn’t start off ideally for the defending Keystone Bowl champions as Shifflet fumbled the opening kickoff and it was recovered by the Comanche.
“That’s definitely not the way you want to start a game. I saw the Comanche recover the fumble deep in our territory and I was like are you kidding me?” – Brent Melhorn, Cyclones HC
A couple plays later the Comanche found the end zone with an unlikely run by TE Trey Campbell for five yards. The extra point failed but the Cyclones found themselves in a hole quickly down 6-0.
“We’ve been here before. Just last week we were down twenty one points early. Nothing you can do about it, except answer.” – Matt Tavarez, Cyclones TE
After an interception stalled the Cyclones opening drive the Comanche had the chance to potentially blow the game wide open early in the first quarter.
“We’ve been scoring with ease all season, these last two games we seemed to have struggled in the first quarter but I know our defense would step up and bail us out.” Brent Melhorn, Cyclones HC
The Cyclones defense did just that, stopping the Comanche, forcing them to punt. That next drive for Lancaster led to a Jason Nyhart four yard TD run, his first of two in the quarter. He would later catch one late in the first to tie the game at 12-12.
Keystone Bowl 15 had everything you could ever ask for in a game. Drama. Intensity. Passion. Neither team willing to back down. The game saw five lead the changes in the second half, four of which coming in the fourth quarter.
Cyclones QB Greg Medina stepped up where he had to in the big game, 10-15 for 145 yards while running the ball eighteen times for 125 yards, and named the Keystone Bowl 15 Most Valuable Player.
Caseem Johnson rushed for 82 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns for the Comanche, who also had a strong effort from Greg Williams with 42 yards on 4 catches and also had two touchdowns. In his fourth Keystone Bowl start of his career, Derr threw for 69 yards on 8-18 passing for the Comanche with two touchdowns. What was more impressive for the signal caller was his fifteen rushing attempts for 53 yards and three touchdowns.
Late in the second quarter it seemed like the Cyclones were pulling away up 25-12 when Brandon Derr brought the Comanche back within six. Derr scored from four yards out as time expired. Trey Campbell would run in the extra point to make it 37-31 at half time.
“We knew we needed that score before the half. Especially knowing we were getting the ball to start the second. Huge momentum shift going into half time.” – Monk Williams, Comanche HC
Riding that momentum into the second half the Comanche once again scored on the opening drive of a half on another TD run from Derr. The Comanche would pull some trickery on the extra point as Trey Campball would find a wide open Dwayne Lee in the back of the end zone for the conversion and the lead, 39-37.
Late in the 3rd quarter, down by two, the Cyclones would call on their QB once more. Greg Medina takes off for 30 yards to regain the lead.
“I knew we needed a play. That run was all heart. I wasn’t going to be denied.” – Greg Medina, Cyclones QB
The Cyclones took the lead 43-39 going into the fourth quarter but the Comanche weren’t going to go down quietly. Caseem Johnson would run it in from five yards out to give the Comanche back the lead.
“As a piece of the puzzle, you want to contribute anywhere you can. Derr told me to get us the lead back and I’m not trying to disappoint him or my team.” – Caseem Johnson, Comanche RB
Caseem would later score again late in the fourth to tie the game, 51-51. Both teams showed tremendous heart. Neither team backing down.
Down 57-51 late in the fourth, the Comanche defense needed a stop. The Cyclones offense was looking for the dagger and on fourth down they found it.
“The drive seemed to be stalling so I called a time out. I brought the guys over and told Medina to run. It was Tavarez who said no and called his own play. Just heads up football by one of our vets.” – Brent Melhorn, Cyclones HC
With less than two minutes left in the game, Greg Medina delivered the dagger. On a fake QB power Medina hit a wide open Matt Tavarez for the touchdown.
“I turned to my guy and told him to watch Matt. I just felt like it was coming but when you have Medina back there eyes tend to go to him especially in a run situation. It was a great call in that moment by a great team.” – Mark Anthony, Comanche LB
For the Comanche, the loss marks a bitter end to an otherwise memorable season, which saw a franchise record 8 wins and its first trip to the Keystone Bowl. While the Cyclones win their fifth championship in six years.
Saturday’s victory caps off a record setting run for the Cyclones offense. They set the record for most points scored in a ten game season (660) and averaged 66 points a game.
“I mean business as usual, am I right?” – Brent Melhorn, Cyclones HC
The Lancaster County Cyclones Dynasty wrote yet another chapter in the history books for the Great Eastern Football Association as one of the greatest teams ever. Keystone Bowl 15 also wrote its own chapter. Just like the first AFL/NFL championship in 1966, it combined state of the art technology with family friendly entertainment. It created a standard for the rest of the country to follow.