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Cyclones Survive Scare To Stay Unbeaten Against Inspired Mustang Squad

May 7, 2023 Brian Ptashinski

SUGARLOAF - It was a tale of two halves Saturday afternoon at Valley Chiefs Field as the top ranked Great Eastern Football Association 8-man football club, the Cyclones of Lancaster County made the three hour trip to face the Hazleton Mustangs. The Cyclones have pretty much dominated all previous opponents, but they faced a stiff effort by the home squad in a classic 44-42 win to improve to 8-0, while the Mustangs dropped their second straight heart-breaking loss after suffering a 48-47 loss last week to the Buffaloes and fourth straight.

The first half Saturday saw both teams combine for 72 points as both teams scored at will. The Cyclones got the scoring started as they took the opening kickoff at their twelve a 25 yard pass from quarterback Greg Medina to Jermell Fleming made it 6-0 early in the quarter.

Hazleton, after a Jay Mensah, kickoff return set the Mustangs up in Cyclones territory quarterback Waleek Huffin scampered in from three yards out to even the score a few minutes later.

We were just getting started with the scoring barrage as Medina connected with WR Matt Wise for another Cyclones score an 12-6 lead on their next possession as the elusive signal caller escaped a fierce Mustang pass rush all game.

The Mustangs managed to take a lead on their next drive, again aided by by a nice Mensah return set the home team in positive field position. This time Huffin found Davion Reeves for a 22 yard score, who made the catch with a defender draped over him. The PAT made it 13-12 still in the first quarter.

A three yard run by Mustangs by Kevin Sanford extended the lead and upset bid to 20-12 at the start of the second quarter. but the Cyclones answered with two scores of their own including a twelve yard pass from Medina to Zeke Williams to get Lancaster back in the game.

Late in the half, with the Cyclones driving Medina was hit on a sweep run, the ball popped up in the air and Mustangs Jack Oguto took the gift 44 yards for a score to make it 36-30.

But again the Cyclones would get the chance with ball just before intermission, Medina drove his team inside the Mustangs ten, but came up lame with a leg injury and to add insult to injury dislocated a finger as he was tackled out of bounds. Matt Wise took over at quarterback and he scored from three yards out making it 36-36 at halftime.

Then the defenses took over in the second half as neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Cyclones were on the march as the final twelve minutes began. On the first play Mike Rodriguez scored from two yards out and a 42-36 lead. Medina did return to he contest as they worked on injuries at half.

Hazleton would come back and score on a fourth and 15 touchdown pass from Huffin to to Reeves for 21 yrd score and tied the score at 42.

With just over two minutes left, the Cyclones pooched a punt that Mustangs returned to their own ten for possibly the game winning drive, but on second down Huffin dropped by in his end zone and with being pressured threw a pass towards the sidelines where there was no receiver in the area and the officials signaled intentional grounding resulting in a safety for the Cyclones and 44-42 lead.

After receiving the free kick, Lancaster needed to convert a first down to seal the game was faced with a third down conversion, where a pass interference call against the Mustangs defense gave the visitors a first down and they ran out the clock to preserve the win.

The win now sets up a showdown at 7-0 Wilkes-Barre Warriors on May 20th at The Bog. The Cyclones have a bye this week, while the Warriors will be home with the 3-4 Berks County Raptors Saturday.