POLAND — It was the moment a special teams player waits for.
As Jordan Glover raced down the field, he saw the Poland kick returner fumble the ball. What happened next quickly turned the tide and helped Lisbon build an early lead that it never relinquished in a 22-6 win over the Knights.
"He touched the ball first and then went back into the end zone," said Glover, a junior reciever and safety. "He thought if he went down on his knee he'd have a touchback."
Instead, it was a safety for the Greyhounds (4-3). It gave Lisbon the ball back and quickly led to a 17-0 advantage.
"We struck fast," said Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan. "It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's pretty nice."
It was a hole that Poland couldn't recover from. The Knights got a touchdown to make it 17-6 but that was as close as they'd come.
"Our first two kick returns killed us," said Poland coach Ted Tibbetts. "They didn't make those mistakes."
From there, the Lisbon defense was able to hold the Knights. Poland's option offense was the focus of the Greyhounds work this week.
"We've been running option all week with our scout team," said Glover. "Our defensive ends were going for the quarterback. Our linebackers were going strong to the pitchmen or the fullbacks every play."
Poland had six first downs in the first half and just three in the second. The Knights finished with 147 yards on the ground and two yards passing.
"They're a difficult team to prepare for," said Mynahan. "They run that option better than anyone I've seen. We expected them to be well-drilled and they were."
Poland quarterback Tony Whalen led the Knights with 80 yards on 14 carries while Tyler Sturtevant added 38 on 15 tries. Poland was also hampered by three fumbles, one of which Lisbon recovered.
"They're a great team, but our kids did great," said Tibbetts. "I thought we did a great job. We had openings, but we fumbled pitches again. They certainly took some things away, but I don't think there was a time where they shut us down. We just continually shot ourselves in the foot."
Lisbon kicker Brandon Hovey hemmed the Knights in at the 5 on their first possession. Poland had to punt after getting as far as the 34. Lisbon used the good field position for a drive that ended with Quincy Thompson scampering in from the 11 with 4:01 left in the quarter. Thompson finished with 150 yards on 25 carriers while Mason Haley ran for 52 yards on 10 carries.
On Hovey's next kickoff, Poland bobbled it, and Glover made the tackle in the end zone for the safety. Lisbon got the ball back on the Poland 38. A facemask penalty on the Knights helped the cause. Kyle Sheehan finished off the drive by diving in from the one with six seconds left in the opening quarter.
Poland (1-6) got one back with 2:46 left in the half. Whalen broke one for his longest run of the game, scoring from the 21 to make it 16-6.
Lisbon then took the opening possession of the second half 68 yards for a 22-6 lead with 8:10 left. Sheehan scored his second of the night with a 3-yard run.
Lisbon fumbled the ball away twice in the second half, but Poland couldn't take advantage. The Knights managed just 33 yards on offense the rest of the way.
"We were certainly getting four yards a carry," said Tibbetts. "There were a couple of times we made the wrong read and got stuffed. We just can't seem to find a way to do it consistently."