Oct. 30—SUSQUEHANNA — Max Kimmel leaped high into the air and made any closely contested pass his by catching the ball at its highest point.
Lackawanna Trail's 6-foot-2, sophomore receiver and defensive back cashed in one of his efforts into a touchdown, and in another he extinguished a scoring threat. His two key plays helped the Lions defeat Susquehanna, 39-7, on Saturday on the final day of the Lackawanna Football Conference regular season.
Lackawanna Trail (6-4 overall, 3-2 in Division III) already knew its postseason destination. The Lions are set for a rematch with Old Forge (7-3) in the District 2 Class 1A championship game Friday.
"I see the ball and listen to what the coaches tell me about being confident in the air," said Kimmel, who had 72 yards receiving and a score and a pair of interceptions. "When it is up in the air, it is yours. You have to go get it all the time."
Susquehanna's loss, combined with Holy Redeemer's 34-12 win over Montrose on Saturday night, eliminated the Sabers from the postseason.
Lackawanna Trail dominated the game with 336 yards rushing and five touchdowns behind a strong game from its young offensive line. Tight end Frankie Cocchini is the lone senior, then the group includes juniors Alex Castellano and Kolbee Soltis, sophomores Christopher Kohinsky and Brian Gow, and freshmen Byron Axtell and Cooper Patterson.
Quarterback Stephen Jervis also threw for 86 yards, which included two to Kimmel.
Kimmel's touchdown reception came on the Lions' first drive of the second half. He somehow pulled the ball out of a duel possession with a defender and jogged in for the score that made it 26-0 with 7:26 left in the third quarter.
But Susquehanna made a charge at Lackawanna Trail.
William Marcy ripped off a 32-yard run, and sophomore Nate Oropallo caught a pass and tapped his toes for a 9-yard touchdown.
Susquehanna recovered the onside kick and marched to the Lackawanna Trail 16. Quarterback Colton Stone released a high-arching pass to the corner of the end zone, but Kimmel reached up high and pulled it in for his second interception of the game.
The turnover squeezed the life out of the Sabers.
"I have to give credit to the defensive line," Kimmel said. "They put pressure on the quarterback and made him rush the throw. It was the same thing; I just went up and got it."
Lackawanna Trail turned the play into points. Kimmel had a 31-yard reception with another high-point catch and junior Lukas Gumble bolted 42 yards for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 32-7 with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Isaac Ryon finished the scoring for the Lions on a 14-yard run.
"This is a pretty big win," said Gumble, who had a team-high 119 yards rushing with two touchdowns. "Next week is a pretty huge game. We lost to Old Forge a couple of weeks ago, so it's an important game."
Lackawanna Trail built a 20-0 lead in the first half as sophomore Demetrius Douglas scored on runs of 6 and 30 yards and also contributed an interception. Gumble scored on an 8-yard run in the second quarter.
"The running game was pretty important," said Douglas, who finished with 84 yards on nine carries. "It all came down to our offensive line getting blocks. The line just did a great job."
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