LaSalle had to come from behind twice and overcome six turnovers in its home opener. After Joe Burger scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, the Lancers came away with a 27-23 victory over the Lakota East Thunderhawks.
Lakota West went three-and-out on both of its first two possessions. However, on the second failed drive, the Thunderhawks got a second chance when LaSalle muffed the punt. Lakota West recovered the miscue near midfield and turned the mistake into the first points of the game.
A 35-yard run by junior running back Will Mahone setup a three-yard plunge by Mikel Horton that gave Lakota East (2-1) a 7-0 advantage.
LaSalle (3-0) came right back on the ensuing possession to tie the score 7-7. Quarterback Dominic Capano tossed a 58-yard touchdown strike to fellow senior Tyler Vogelpohl.
Capano struggled in the first half with a pair of interceptions that were both picked off by Lakota East's Joe Postlewait.
After the second interception, East drove 85 yards to re-take the lead 14-7. Once again the big blow came from Mahone, who rushed for 122 yards on the night, ripping off a 53-yarder during the eight play drive. Quarterback Eric Eichler scored on a one-yard keeper with just 15 seconds remaining before the intermission.
--Postgame: Joe Burger, LaSalle
--Postgame: Dominic Capano, LaSalle
--Postgame: Tom Grippa, LaSalle
LaSalle received the kickoff to begin the second half. A very poised Capano, who went 20-for-29 passing for 251 yards passing, engineered a 15-play drive that chewed nearly six minutes off the clock. Burger bulldozed his way to the end zone for a five-yard touchdown that tied the score 14-14.
The Lancer defense was dominating in the second half. LaSalle allowed just two first downs, both on the final Lakota East drive of the game.
With two minutes left in the third quarter, Capano hit Vogelpohl on a slant route for a 36-yard touchdown that put LaSalle in front 21-14. Vogelpohl posted 98 yards receiving on three receptions.
In the fourth quarter, Lakota West forced a LaSalle fumble deep in its own territory. The Thunderhawks started the drive on the Lancers' 15-yard line. However they could only get a 27-yard field goal by Nick Gasser, cutting the deficit to 21-17.
Lakota East retook the lead with 4:32 left in the game thanks to excellent field position. The Thunderhawks started a drive on the Lancer 39-yard line. On the first play Eichler completed a 35-yard pass to Mahone. On the next play, Eichler scored on a five-yard keeper and Lakota East was primed for the upset. After the missing the extra point attempt, East had a 23-21 lead.
Unfortunately for Lakota East they left too much time on the clock. Brad Burkhart returned the kickoff all the way to the 46-yard line. Five plays later, Burger scored on a one-yard dive play but the attempt at the two-point conversion failed.
LaSalle had to hold onto the 27-23 lead with just over two minutes left to play. The defense bowed up and LaSalle survived with the four-point victory.
Despite throwing three interceptions, Capano was the also the team's leading rushing with 63 yards on the ground. He personally accounted for 314 of the 365 yards that LaSalle offense accumulated for the game.
LaSalle will travel to Indianapolis for a meeting with Northwest on Friday. Lakota East has to recover quickly as it starts conference play with a home game next Friday against Hamilton.
*Written by: Brady Laber, TriStateFootball.com