DALLAS — A year ago, Xander Shaner watched from the sideline as Dallas football suffered a district quarterfinals upset to a No. 7 seed.

Shaner’s commitment to the Mountaineers had him on the field one year later — and in the perfect position to stop yet another stunner on his home turf.

The junior lineman recovered a fumbled snap to stop Honesdale’s last-gasp drive as it approached the red zone. His heads-up play sealed No. 2 Dallas’ 23-16 victory over the No. 7 Hornets in Friday night’s District 2 Class 4A opener.

“There’s a kid that didn’t play a snap of varsity football a year ago,” Dallas coach Rich Mannello said. “But he’s been in the weight room … He grew three inches, and he went from playing zero plays varsity last year to two-way starter.”

Dallas (10-1) moves on to next week’s semifinals, where it’ll take on No. 3 Berwick. Shaner made it official as he emerged from the pile with the football over his head at the Mountaineers’ 29-yard line.

Honesdale (3-8) nearly took the game to overtime despite losing lead back Andy Carroll to injury in the second quarter.

“Honesdale did a tremendous job. Hats off to their staff, their players. They out-physicaled us at many points during this game,” Mannello said. “We did things that we hadn’t done all year long. We’ve got to overcome that.

“We did overcome it, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Carroll exited with 46 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and was mostly replaced by tight end Justin LoBasso. LoBasso punched in a 3-yard score two plays after the injury, but the Hornets didn’t earn a first down in their next four drives.

They began to find a rhythm midway through the fourth quarter, down 20-14, on a drive that featured one fourth-down and two third-down conversions. But the drive stalled at the 10-yard line, and a field goal attempt was blocked.

Honesdale’s upset bid stayed alive through a safety and another defensive stand at its own 3-yard line. Dallas kicker Ryan Fisher’s 20-yard field goal made it 23-16, but the Hornets had 1:51 to make something happen.

Dallas Shuts Down Hornets’ Upset Bid
Dallas Shuts Down Hornets’ Upset Bid

They started moving when quarterback Ethan Dunn hit 6-foot-2 tight end Ryan Longman for a third-down gain of 27 yards, and then 14 yards on a similar route two plays later.

But, Shaner gave the ball back to Dallas before Dunn could take a chance at the end zone.

“We held together, and we stayed strong,” Shaner said. “Ever since last year when we lost (to Coughlin, 28-0), that was our one goal: to come back to Week 11 and try our best, and succeed for last year’s seniors.”

The night started with four consecutive touchdown drives, including a 1-yard sneak by Dallas quarterback Michael Starbuck and a broken tackle and 48-yard score by Lenny Kelley. Kelley finished with 207 yards on a 31 rushes.

Both defenses settled in from there until Starbuck connected with Matt Maransky over the middle for a 60-yard touchdown and 20-14 lead in the third quarter.

The Mounts will now prepare for Berwick, a team they also beat, 13-10, with a late fumble recovery back in Week 9.

“I think we’re going to be ready. We’re going to do our best. We’re going to practice hard,” Shaner said, “and we’re going to show them that it wasn’t just one time.”


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Source: The Associated Press

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