Lawrence Academy line fuels win over Tabor Academy

MARION — A coach will bark out plenty of orders during a game, but sometimes he has to listen to his players.

On the final drive of Saturday’s game with Tabor Academy, Lawrence Academy coach Jason Swepson took the advice of his offensive line.

Instead of breaking a late tie with a field goal, the Spartans went for a touchdown, and got it, to earn a 28-21 win between two Independent School League unbeatens.

With the win, Lawrence Academy stays perfect with a 6-0 record, while Tabor drops to 5-1. Both are in good position to make a NEPSAC bowl game.

That final drive started at the Lawrence 35-yard line with 3:23 to go. Lawrence had been mounting long drives all game.

“Perfect amount (of time), because we have a kicker (Rollin Hughes),” Swepson said. “We’ve just got to get in field-goal range. We got into field-goal range, and then the o-line said, ‘We want to score a touchdown.’ I was playing for a field goal. O-line said, ‘Hell no, let’s score a touchdown.’ Credit to them.”

The 10-play drive featured eight runs, capped by a 2-yarder from Jordan Johnson, who finished with 59 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Michael Landolfi added 67 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 16 of 22 passes for 159 yards.

“He’s one of the better players I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around some great ones, with Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Hasselbeck,” Swepson said. “You go right down the line, and this kid is with them with composure, leadership skills. Bottom line is he’s a winner. Colleges need to recognize that. He’s a winner.”

“There could have been a minute left, I feel confident in my guys that we can go down there and score,” Landolfi said. “The o-line played really well. This was like a turning point for them. Tabor Academy, that’s a completely different team from last year. Oh, my goodness! They’re really well coached. They’re a really good team. They’ll be good. But, yeah, full confidence in my guys. There could be 30 seconds on the clock, I’ll feel comfortable. The way we can burn the clock, that really helped, too.”

After Johnson’s touchdown, Tabor only had 11 seconds to answer, and the Spartans stopped the final drive.

Lawrence opened the game with a 14-play drive that ended in a 32-yard field goal from Hughes.

Tabor answered with the sensational Hugo Djeumeni on a 55-yard touchdown run. Djeumeni finished with 137 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Landolfi ran in a 4-yarder and a two-point conversion late in the second quarter, but Tabor answered. Quarterback Timothy Bengston scored from a yard out just before the half after a perfect hook and ladder to receiver Kaiden Drinkwater and Djeumeni netted 39 yards as the Seawolves took a 14-11 lead.

Another Hughes field goal, again from 32 yards out, tied it up in the third quarter. After the Lawrence defense made a stop, Darnell Cicero-Brunson rumbled for a 22-yard touchdown over the left end.

Djeumeni struck again, this time from five yards out with 3:29 left, but that was too much time for Lawrence.

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