LINESVILLE — The game that could have been.

Linesville went into Saturday night’s showdown with Lakeview expecting one of the toughest games of its schedule. For about the first 32 minutes, that is exactly what they Lions got. But a clipping penalty negated a 95-yard kick return for the Sailors, and the Lions seized control on both sides of the ball for a 32-7 victory.

“That killed us,” said Lakeview head coach Dan York. “It took the wind right out of our sails.”

That penalty may have stopped the comeback, but it was Trevor Litwiler who sunk Sailors.

The sophomore quarterback played like a senior, directing the Linesville offense to near perfection. And when his team failed to score in its first possession, he took matters into his own hands. On the next possession, he faked a pitch, cracked through a hole in the line and darted 51-yards for the first score of the game.

Later in the second quarter, Litwiler led the Lions on a 6-play drive after Doug Farley returned a punt 24 yards to the Lakeview 20 yard line. The Sailors stacked the line against the run, so Litwiler found Matt Laird in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0.

“There was a situation there, where he did a lot of nice things,” said Linesville head coach Pat Gould. “And he had a pass (that would have been a touchdown) drop at the end of the first half.”

With Lakeview mounting very little offense and just 1:15 to go in the half, it appeared that would be the halftime score.

“When they went down and scored,” said Litwiler, “we thought the momentum was switching. We thought we were going to breeze through it and then they scored. (Lakeview) is a good team.”

The drive started at the Sailors’ 40-yard line. And with the run not working, York looked to Jordan Damko to get things moving. Making his first start at quarterback, Damko complete 3-of-3 passes to lead Lakeview to a touchdown with 17.3 seconds left. Lucas Reddick caught two of those balls for 44 yards and the score.

“I moved one of our (defensive) players,” said Gould. “And (Lakeview) set it up perfectly. They ran a little swing pass to (Adam Koontz) earlier, and then they ran the same play and went to the middle. Those two passes to (Reddick) hurt us.”

Linesville came right out and scored on a 2-yard scamper by Litwiler. The QB fumbled the snap, but was able to pick it up before the defense knew what happened. It also allowed a hole to open right through the middle, leading to the TD.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lakeview seemed to jump right back into the game.

“That was a big penalty for us,” said Litwiler.

The penalty erased the score and put them on the Linesville 45. Lakeview still mounted a drive, but the excitement wasn’t there. When Linesville’s Doug Williams intercepted the ball on the seven, the momentum was gone for good.

And when the Lions went 93 yards on nine plays, keyed by Williams’ 54 yard run and culminating with his 1-yard plunge, it was over.

“We went over what they were doing at halftime,” said Litwiler. “We felt we saw a couple things we could take advantage of. They are a good team, big boys hard to move. So we had to go outside on them.”

Williams finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lions’ rushing attack. Litwiler had 76 yards and completed 6-of-9 passes for another 67. He threw a TD and scored two on the ground. Farley galloped for 78 yards on 16 carries.

Koontz had 78 yards on 23 carries to pace the Sailors.

“We have a young team and had to juggle the lineup around,” said York. “We had (District 10 leading rusher Thomas Miller) ineligible, and another two-way starter decided he wanted to go to a baseball game. Not giving any excuses, Linesville is a good team and they played real well.

“We played well in the first half and not so well in the second half. Just one of those things with a young team.”

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