Loyalsock started consecutive second-quarter drives at its 1 and 2-yard lines. Just 35 seconds remained when the next one began. The Lancers scored touchdowns every time.
Neither distance, nor time could stop the Lancers’ historic aerial show Friday night at Memorial Stadium. Loyalsock produced the greatest passing performance in area history, shattering records all night while keeping the Green Bridge securely in its collective grasp.
Tyler Gee threw for a record 528 yards and six touchdown passes, while Jaylen Andrews broke his own single-game receiving yardage record with 310 yards and two scores. Jamaire Harden added 134 yards and four touchdowns as Loyalsock thumped Montoursville, 50-21 and captured its second consecutive Bridge Trophy Game. The Lancers (7-3) never trailed, built a 41-7 third quarter lead, totaled 630 yards and clinched the No. 2 seed for next week’s District 4 Class AAA playoffs where they will host No. 7 Cowanesque Valley.
“One of our main goals coming into this game was getting the ball to our playmakers’ hands and letting them work in space or over the top and use our speed to our advantage,” Andrews said. “With this team, we’re filled with a lot of speed and playmakers. Jamaire and I have talked about it all along, and the game finally came.”
“That was supposed to be the whole season, every game,” Harden said after catching three touchdowns and running for another. “We came in with a plan and we executed it.”
They did so like no area team ever has.
The records seemingly fell as fast as points piled up. Loyalsock fumbled away scoring opportunities on its first two series, but then started lighting up the night sky and were unstoppable. The Lancers scored on their next eight series, seven being touchdowns, while taking control against a determined rival.
Records broken Friday include: Gee’s single-game yards, Gee career touchdown passes (74), Gee’s six touchdowns (a tie) and Andrews’ single-game yards. Gee also became the first area player to top 2,000 yards in three straight years, while Andrews became just the third to reach 30 career touchdown catches, moving ahead of Jersey Shore’s Cayden Hess for second all-time with 31. Harden excelled as well, and Danny Dowell caught a 36-yard touchdown.
Somewhere Bill Walsh and Don Coryell were smiling their approval as Loyalsock produced a passing performance never seen around here before. And good luck, ever seeing something like it again.
“All the year the talent has been there. It’s just been focus sometimes and execution and we had it tonight,” Gee said. “I think at practices, we can see what we can do in a big game. We have a lot of opportunities throughout the game and it also helps when our defense gets stops. Our line was able to block well and give us the time and our receivers can do the rest. It was a fun game.”
“When you pass for that many yards, it’s partially what we worked on during the week, but the truth of the matter is it’s kids who run really fast and jump really high. There are times it’s up to us to get out of the way and let them go,” Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet said. “The passing game is something we’ve always worked on and we thought it could pop for us. Tonight was a night it came together in a really nice way. The team was able to execute quite well. Some of the statistics are quite outlandish.”
That goes double since Loyalsock started slow and lost fumbles on those first two series. It looked like Montoursville might snuff out another threat, forcing a fourth-and-10 from the 31-yard line. Gee, however, dropped a dime, firing a perfect deep pass down the middle of the field as Andrews corralled it in the middle of the end zone and put Loyalsock ahead to stay.
It was just the start as Loyalsock started producing their video-game passing numbers. The next three drives were the aforementioned ones, starting at the 1 and 2-yard lines and with 35 seconds left. On those three series, Gee went 12 of 14 for 239 yards and three touchdowns as Loyalsock took control, going ahead 28-7 at halftime. Harden ignited the binge, intercepting a pass at the 1-yard line before catching a 5-yard score to make it 14-0 and give Gee the career touchdown pass record as he surpassed Connor Watkins and Brycen Mussina.
“Sometimes I just have to get them the ball and the rest will happen,” Gee said. “I’m just watching it from back behind them. Seeing the moves they do, it’s fun to watch.”
Andrews and Harden kept making those moves and befuddling Montoursville on the next two series. It did not matter if the coverage was 1-on-1, zone or bracket. There was no stopping the receivers from making super catches and Gee pin-point throws.
After Wyatt Fry’s punt pinned Loyalsock at its 2-yard line, Gee needed just 58 seconds to take it 98 yards. Andrews made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch on the first play for a 35-yard gain, Logan Bastian brought in a 23-yard reception, Andrews added a nine-yarder and Dowell split two defenders, taking a slant 36 yards for a touchdown. After Christian Banks ran for a 4-yard touchdown with :39.8 seconds remaining in the half it appeared Montoursville (3-6) would have momentum entering halftime.
Turns out that was more than enough time as Loyalsock worked at warp speed and seized control. Harden caught a 24-yarder, Andrews a 46-yarder in traffic and Harden capped the pivotal drive with a 2-yard touchdown catch. Loyalsock led 28-7 and Gee already had thrown for 315 yards and four touchdowns by halftime.
“Tyler is a real dog. Even in practice, he always gives us the jump balls, the quick balls, the deep balls,” Harden said. “He’s always looking for us. It’s been like that since this summer when I came here.”
“That was big for us,” Andrews said. “It gave us more energy and excited to come out in the second half to try and do it over and over again.”
Loyalsock did keep doing it over and over again. And while Gee, Andrews and Harden stood out, it was the work of linemen Jeremiah Johnson, Ethan French, Hakeem McClain, Isaiah West and Josh Bomboy which made it happen. Tight end Will Burdett also played a key role, acting as a coach on the field and providing excellent downfield blocking.
Everything came together and Loyalsock continued the air assault on its first third quarter possession as Gee found a wide-open Andrews for a 72-yard touchdown. On the next series, Andrews caught a 41-yard pass and before the third quarter was out, the all-state senior had already broken his previous yards record with 290. He added two more catches on the ensuing drive, finishing with 310.
Gee and Andrews both earned all-state honors last year, so they have produced many excellent games throughout their scholastic careers. Playing their rival, though, has really brought out something special in those two. Gee has thrown for 839 yards and 10 touchdowns in consecutive wins against Montoursville, while Andrews has 17 catches for 594 yards and six touchdowns in those victories.
“I take pride in playing Montoursville,” Andrews said after also running for 34 yards and returning a kickoff 50 yards. “It’s a big game. We know everyone is coming out, so I know I have to put on a show.”
Montoursville, which will play at Lewisburg in the Class AAA quarterfinals next Friday, did its best to make it a dual show. Banks continued his outstanding late-season play, running for a career-high 45 yards and defensive lineman Cole Yonkin again stood out, making three tackles for loss. The Warriors topped 300 yards for a third straight game and Jimmy Mussina found Nate Fisher and James Williams for 53 and 14-yard touchdowns, respectively.
But Montoursville missed out on a chance to strike first when its first two possessions resulted on turnovers. The most crucial came when Harden stepped in front of a pass just in front of the left pylon and denied Montoursville a game-tying touchdown. The 99-yard scoring drive followed and Montoursville was unable to keep up from there.
Loyalsock seniors excitedly grabbed the Bridge Trophy and hoisted it high into the sky moments after the game concluded. Then it was time for photos as Loyalsock captured the memories of this special night.
As exciting as the win was, though, the work continues. The Bridge Trophy is nice, but the Lancers have their eyes on a bigger goal.
“It definitely feels good, but it’s different when playoffs are right here,” Gee said. “I’m already thinking about playoffs.”
“I felt like this was a great rebound game after last week,” Van Fleet said. “That’s something we can continue to build upon.”