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Raiders suffer first loss of season

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/1/2019 10:04:20 PM
Modified: 11/1/2019 10:04:04 PM

LEBANON — The Lebanon High football team’s hopes for an undefeated season were dashed Friday night with a 22-17 loss to Campbell.

The Raiders and Cougars each finished the regular season with 8-1 records and await the outcome of a Sunday clash between visiting Trinity (7-1) and Somersworth (3-5) that will provide final clarity to the postseason picture.

Based on points in the NHIAA Division III standings, Lebanon and Trinity would be tied for first place if the Pioneers win on Sunday. The Raiders, however, beat Trinity in the season’s opening game, which would give them the tiebreaker on head-to-head meeting and the division’s top seed overall, said Lebanon coach Chris Childs.

The 12-team division’s eight-team playoffs begin next weekend, and Lebanon will host a quarterfinal contest. The Raiders are pursuing their first state title since 2010.

Two snaps over the head of Lebanon punter Philip Mellish led to 16 Campbell points. The second came with 3 minutes, 37 seconds remaining and handed the Cougars the ball on the Raiders’ 5-yard line. Cam Barrett ran 5 yards for a touchdown and the game’s final points three plays later.

“He’s snapped all year without an issue, but there was an issue tonight” Childs said. “We have to learn from this and not let it define our season.”

The game took an early, unexpected turn with three minutes remaining in the first quarter when Campbell starting running back Keegan Mills was assessed a personal foul and ejected for kicking at a Raider after Mills had carried the ball.

The senior recently passed the 4,000-yard rushing mark for his career.

Lebanon opened the scoring on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jon Willeman to Wade Rainey seven minutes before halftime. The play capped a 12-play, 64-yard drive during which Campbell was twice penalized for encroachment, the second penalty resulting in a first down and goal from the 4-yard line after the hosts had faced fourth-and-one at the 7-yard line.

Campbell scored on the next possession when Conor Sweeney threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Carter Vedrani. A run attempt for the 2-point conversion failed, and Lebanon led, 7-6, two minutes before halftime.

The hosts’ next possession ended when Calvin Bates snapped the ball over Mellish’s head and out of the end zone for a safety. Lebanon kicked the ball away, trailing, 8-7, with 42 seconds remaining in the half.

Campbell added to its lead 3 seconds before intermission when Sweeny threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Barrett and Vedrani ran for a 2-point conversion to make the score 16-7.

Lebanon pulled within 16-14 when Willeman hit Rainey for an amazing 62-yard touchdown pass. The latter outfought a defender for the ball in midair before running another 30 yards to score.

Lebanon’s Jacob Hibner intercepted a Sweeney pass and that led to Rainey kicking a 25-yard field goal to put the hosts up, 17-16, with nine minutes to play. Willeman forced a Campbell fumble on the next possession, and Cole Ames recovered it. The Raiders drove to the Cougars’ 31-yard line before Bates sent another snap over Mellish with 3:37 to go.

Willeman completed eight of 14 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns and had two passes intercepted. Rainey caught three tosses for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Willeman ran nine times for for team-high 74 yards.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




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