For the second year in a row, Lancaster's special teams made the game-changing plays that enabled the Legends to get the better of old friend Orchard Park.
Lancaster blocked two field goals, and returning first team All-Western New York selection Max Giordano returned a punt for a touchdown as the co-No. 1-ranked Buffalo News large school remained unbeaten with a 43-20 triumph over the Quakers.
In a game that's a rematch of last year's Section VI Class AA final defending champion Lancaster played suffocating defense throughout, especially during the first half when the game held in the balance to keep OP from gaining any potential momentum.
Key play: Giordano fielded a punt at his own 25, spun left away from a potential tackler and had nothing but open field in front of him, taking it 75 yards to the house with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first half.
Key plays II: It's a tie. Fittingly enough it involves Lancaster's dynamic linebacking duo of Joe Andreessen and Ben Damiani. Each blocked Orchard Park field goal attempts during the first half – the first by Andreessen in the first quarter came with the game tied at 0-0 after a Lancaster turnover at its own 12.
Special force history: The Legends' special teams made its presence felt but it's not the first time that's happened between these teams the past two seasons. Lancaster's Jacob Michalski scored on a 50-yard return of a blocked punt with 30 seconds left to turn a one-point deficit into a 42-35 triumph for the Legends last year at Quaker Field during OP's homecoming game.
Big man scores: Andreessen, wearing No. 62, lined up at quarterback in a giant wildcat formation and scored easily on a 4-yard run after faking the handoff to Andrew Hersey to break a scoreless tie in the second quarter.
Legends starters yield points: With 7:28 left in the third quarter of its third game, Lancaster's starting defense gave up its first touchdown of the season. It came on a sensational one-handed, laying-all-out catch by Nic Bruce. That was set up by a long kick return by Dylan Bieler, which would have gone for a score if not for a TD-saving, but penalized, horse-collar tackle that gave the Quakers a drive start at the Legends' 11.
Offense busts loose: Lancaster came into this game averaging 51 points per game. It was limited to 15 at halftime and just 145 yards. The Legends gashed OP in the second half with the line clearing holes for Hersey to run wild. He scored on runs of 17 and 5 yards in the third quarter. After OP scored to pull within 22-6, Hersey rushed three times for 55 yards, capping the 80-yard drive with a 5-yard TD with 6:09 left in the quarter. Andreessen scored on a 3-yard run to open the fourth quarter. Damiani made it 43-6 returning a pick six 30 yards with 11:15 left.
Crowd count: More than 3,500 showed up for this game between division rivals. Lancaster planned to donate $1 from each ticket sold to the Red Cross to aid with hurricane relief efforts in Florida.
Records: Lancaster is 3-0, all in the division. Orchard Park is 1-2 overall, 1-1 in Class AA.
Next: Lancaster hits the road for noon contest Sept. 23 at Niagara Falls. Orchard Park returns to action Friday with a contest at Williamsville North.