Garden Spot scored 27 unanswered second half points to severely dampen Solanco's chance of making consecutive District playoff appearances following this past Friday night's gridiron match-up in New Holland.The Spartans took a second quarter 14-0 lead before the Mules tied the score going into the break, but the home team took a 21-14 lead with 5:10 left in the third quarter on a seven-yard TD pass, Wes Martin to Derek Deshaw, which proved to be the game winner. The game winning TD was set up when Tyler Eby intercepted a Ben W. Miller pass and returned it to the Mule 33. Garden Spot needed only seven plays to reach the Mules' end zone. The Spartans were aided on a Mules pass interference call, which moved the ball half the distance to the goal late in the drive.
Miller was intercepted on the Mules next possession when Deshaw, one of the league's leading defenders, hauled in Miller's pass at the Garden Spot 47. Following an illegal procedure penalty, Martin dropped back and found Eby on a 58-yard TD pass completion at the 3:59 mark to add another score to the total.
With the score 28-14, GS tacked on another TD when Joe Strangarity jaunted 12-yards untouched into the Mule end zone to culminate an eight-play drive that began at the Mule 26. Key plays during the drive were a 21-yard scamper by Martin, a 12-yard reverse by Eby and a 21-yard sweep by Kyle Kelley.
Garden Spot scored their final TD of the second half with 1:34 left in the game when Martin raced into the Solanco end zone from 27 yards out on a keeper.
After both teams sparred in the first quarter, the home team got things going midway in the second quarter when Martin connected with Eby on a 54-yard TD pass at the 8:19 mark after the Mules were forced out on a three and punt. Eby ended the night with three TDs and over 150-yards through the air.
Garden Spot came right back on their next possession after Nic Rosales picked off a Miller pass and returned it to the Mule 36.
This time Martin needed but one play to find Eby on a 36-yard scoring strike and with 6:27 left in the first half Garden Spot owned a 14-0 lead.
Solanco wasted little time scoring their first TD on their next possession. Following a nine-yard pass completion to Brock Snider, Miller found a sprinting Jared Cartwright down-field and hit him with a 65-yard TD completion. Aaron Haines kicked his first of two successful point after attempts and the Mules were on the board.
Solanco struck again when Miller intercepted Martin and returned it to the GS one-yard line. From there Ryan Kutz dove into the middle of the Spartan defense on first and 10 to knot the score at 14-all with 2:47 left in the first half.
Prior to Miller's interception, Jeremy Trimble picked off a Martin pass and returned it to the Spartan 39. But the drive ended on a fourth and four at the GS 32, with the Spartans taking over on downs.
The Spartans dominated in this one limiting the Mules to seven first downs and limiting them to seven yards on the ground. According to the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, Solanco fumbled on four occasions turning it over to the opposition on two occasions. Solanco was also penalized five times for minus 43-yards. Garden Spot forced the Mules to beat them through the air, which with three interceptions was challenging for the visiting Mules to overcome. Conversely the Mules picked off three of Martin's aerial attempts, but with less success at putting points on the board. Two Mules again played an aspired game. Both Dexter Jennings and Jared Cartwright had their names called out numerous times by the GS public address announcer during the evening. "Dexter and Jared played well," confirmed Solanco head coach Joe Pearson. "Garden Spot took control of the second half and the opportunities that we gave them. When you give a good team that many chances through turnovers and penalties they will take advantage of that. We are going to refocus and look ahead to this Friday."
Garden Spot limited the Mules rushing attack to seven yards, while the hosts ended the night with 379 yards of total offense. The home team improved their record to 6-3 overall, 4-2 Section.
Meanwhile the Mules saw their hopes for a District playoff berth practically dashed as it will take a super effort to defeat the 8-1 Cocalico Eagles at the nest on Friday night. "We have Cocalico and one of the best rushing attacks seen for some time. We have a lot at stake. The chance to get to.500 and still make the playoffs. We need to move on and be ready to go," said Pearson.
The Mules overall record stands at 4-5.
Garden Spot has an equally challenging task as they host the 6-0 (Section) Manheim Central Barons as the 2008 regular season comes to a close.