Lebanon defeated visiting Central, 41-21, on Friday night in a game which had significant implications for the state playoff race in Special District 3.
Both the Warriors and Panthers entered the game with records of 3-2 in league and were in a three-way tie with Crescent Valley for third place in the 5A Special District 3 standings.
Lebanon sophomore Keith Brown had a stellar game, running for 171 yards on just nine carries with three touchdowns. He helped give the Warriors the early lead on a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Lebanon coach Ty Tomlin said Brown had a good week of practice leading up the Central game and that carried through in a strong performance on both sides of the ball.
“It’s just fun to watch his progression,” Tomlin said. “Physically, he’s a college kid. But mentally, he’s still a sophomore.”
Tomlin said Brown is learning how to run behind Lebanon’s impressive offensive line.
“Our offensive line played one of their best games,” Tomlin said. “We had 453 yards rushing.”
Central struggled with the snap on two occasions early in the game and the third miscue cost the Panthers. Stuck deep in their own territory, a shotgun snap went over the head of quarterback Kaleb Kantola and Lebanon senior Dylan Studer recovered the football in the end zone to give the Warriors a 13-0 lead after the extra-point attempt failed.
The Panthers tightened the game before halftime on a 34-yard pass from Kantola to Jesse Cable.
Central took the lead late in the third quarter as Kantola and Cable connected on a 3-yard scoring pass to finish off a 77-yard scoring drive.
The Warrior offense took control of the game in the fourth quarter. Lebanon went on a 75-yard scoring drive which was kept alive by a key third-down conversion. Facing third and 8, quarterback Colton Shepard found Eddy Kennedy with a pass over the middle for a first down. Chaz Daniels capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run.
Lebanon went for the two-point conversion and converted as Brown ran straight up the middle to give the Warriors a 21-14 lead.
The Warriors then took their biggest gamble of the game, going for the onside kick. Lebanon recovered at midfield and on the next play Brown ran away from the Panther defenders on a 49-yard scoring run.
Tomlin said the idea for the onside kick came from assistant coach Joe Mortenson.
“He got in my ear a little bit,” Tomlin said.
After a Central drive stalled out, the Warriors stretched their lead to 35-21 on a 50-yard run by Brown.
The teams then traded late scores, with Lebanon’s Chase Miller finding the end zone on a 26-yard run in the final minute.
Lebanon (4-2) will play at South Albany (2-4) on Friday.
“We have to come ready to play,” Tomlin said. “We have to keep it rolling.”