Roncalli overcame a spirited upset bid at Lebanon on Friday night. The Rebels fell behind early but regrouped for a 28-14 win in a Class 4A sectional semifinal.
Roncalli struggled initially against a strong Lebanon defensive line but managed to make adjustments at the half and took advantage of five turnovers for the win. The Rebels play at Greenwood for the sectional championship.
Quarterback Robbie Strader threw three touchdown passes for the Rebels.
“Lebanon came out really fired up, and you’re going to get that every game at this point of the season,” Rebels coach Bruce Scifres said. “We knew they would be very physical, and they definitely caused us some problems up front. You could sense that our season might be coming to an end if we didn’t overcome that.
“I was pleased with the way we hung in there and stayed focused. We made some adjustments at the half, with how we were blocking, and I thought we moved the ball much better in the second half.”
Lebanon advanced 70 yards in seven plays on the game’s opening drive, scoring via a 6-yard touchdown pass from Evan Stambaugh to Will Poole for a 7-0 lead.
Roncalli was held on downs on its opening drive, but Tyler Lucas intercepted a pass and ran it back inside the Tigers’ 10. Roncalli went backward from scrimmage, setting up a 30-yard field goal by Patrick Sandler to cut the lead to 7-3
The score held into the second quarter. Lebanon pulled off an improbable fake punt from its own 4-yard line, but then lost a fumble on the next play, giving Roncalli the ball at the Tigers 17.
Once again, the Rebels moved backward over the next three plays and the opportunity was lost. The score was 7-3 at halftime.
Roncalli’s Caleb Bowling started the second half by returning the opening kickoff 75 yards to give his team the ball at the Lebanon 15. The Rebels went backward to the 22, but then Strader hit Justin Saylor with a 22-yard scoring strike to give Roncalli the lead.
After successive holding penalties negated two extra-point kicks, the subsequent 40-yard effort was no good to keep the score at 9-7.
Lebanon responded with a quick score of its own as Stambaugh hit Poole on a short crossing pattern and the receiver did the rest of the work, finishing a 47-yard scoring pass, putting the Tigers up 14-9.
Roncalli responded immediately as Strader and Saylor again hooked up for a 61-yard touchdown pass. Strader then hit Nate Fries with a pass for the 2-point conversion to put the Rebels up 17-14 with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter.
The crazy events of the third quarter continued as the Tigers fumbled the ensuing kickoff, leading to a 43-yard field goal by Sandler to make it 20-14. Lebanon then drove to the Roncalli 12 but turned the ball over on downs.
Lebanon drove deep into Roncalli territory again as the fourth quarter began, but turned the ball over for the fourth time in the game, this time on a fumble, to snuff out the scoring threat.
Roncalli then went on a sustained drive, marching 88 yards in 12 plays, aided by two personal foul penalties on one play. The Rebels scored on an 18-yard pass from Strader to Will Harris. Strader then hit Trevor Jacob for a 2-point pass to push the score to 28-14 with 5:15 remaining.
An interception by Saylor provided the Rebels with their fifth takeaway on the night and iced the game.