By Michael Walker
Going into Friday night’s sectional semifinal, the Lebanon Tigers knew they were going to have to play their best football of the season just to have a punchers chance against the 11th-ranked Roncalli Rebels.
The Rebels entered the contest with a mark of 7-3 against one of the best schedules in the state with losses to Martinsville, Bishop Chatard and Southport.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, their last battle of 2013 was far from their best as they fell to Indianapolis Roncalli 28-0.
Every time Lebanon made a big play, they followed it up with a miscue that either extended a Roncalli drive or ended one of their own.
The trend started on the opening possession of the game as Lebanon’s speed on defense forced a quick three-and-out and a poor Rebel punt had the Tigers offense setting up shop near midfield.
The problem was a clear roughing the punter penalty that gave the Rebels 15 yards and an automatic first down. Six plays later the Rebel quarterback Cam Smock snuck it in from a yard out. His touchdown was set up by their workhorse Colin McManama, who busted through the middle of the line for a 47-yard scamper. David Dickey’s extra point made it 7-0 four minutes into the game. In the game, McManama carried the ball 20 times for 210 yards.
The score would stay that way until the late stages of the first half as both teams kept the ball with a ground and pound attack and both defenses loaded the box with eight and nine guys.
Midway through the second quarter, Roncalli finally found some success through the air as Smock converted on three consecutive third downs with easy completions of 7, 10, and 23 yards to move the chains, putting his offense inside the Tiger 10 yard line.
On two of the three completions, Smock moved the pocket rolling to his right and found Aaron Schnell along the sidelines on a simple curl route. With the Tiger defenders protecting against the deep ball, Schnell had plenty of room along the sidelines to pick up the first downs.
Those conversions led to a 3-yard sweep around the left end by McManama, who dove in for the score. The touchdown made it 14-0 with 4:48 left in the half.
See Saturday's Lebanon Reporter for more on this story.