If East Lincoln needs someone to blame for its fourth consecutive loss to start the 2005 season this one Friday night at West Caldwell it needs to only look in a mirror.
Despite scoring two touchdowns on special teams and 120 yards and touchdown from standout running back Ryan Sykes, the Mustangs fell at Thuss Stadium 20-18.
The most telling statistic of the night was the 14 penalties for 129 yards against the Mustangs (0-4). East Lincolnâ€™s night could be summed up in one drive.
With just six minutes to play in the first half, West Caldwell scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 13-6.
East Lincoln had plenty of time to respond and go into the locker room tied, or perhaps even with the lead.
Starting from its 34, the Mustangs marched to the West Caldwell 7 on 10 plays. The Mustangs were moving the ball at will with all its plays netting positive yardage.
The Mustangs found themselves with first-and-goal from the Warrior 7 with about two minutes left on the clock.
Sykes went up the middle for 3 yards to put East Lincoln at Westâ€™s 4. Then there were three consecutive penalties that moved the Mustangs back to the West Caldwell 34.
With 31 seconds to play in the half, quarterback Greyson Schram was sacked by Westâ€™s Jadrien Brown, and then Schram threw two incomplete passes to end the drive without a point.
They were kind of marred by penalties that helped us out, West Caldwell coach Mark Buffamoyer said.
â€œWe were fortunate enough to win.â€
Things started well for the Mustangs when they scored a mere eight seconds into the contest.
West Caldwellâ€™s Martin Dula fumbled the opening kickoffand Cody Whitt was on the spot to scoop up the ball and run it in for a 6-0 East Lincoln lead.
East Lincoln didnâ€™t convert on any of its three point-after attempts.
West Caldwell answered in the final seconds of the first quarter when quarterback Jordon Dula (9-for-18, 225 yards, 2 TDs) hit Brian Turner with a 70-yard TD pass.
Nate Teetersâ€™ PAT gave the Warriors a 7-6 lead. West Caldwell took the lead for good at the 6:01 mark of the second quarter when Nelson hooked up with Erichrist Lipford for a 29-yard scoring pass.
The point after missed. East Lincoln scored its second special team touchdown of the game with 9:03 to play in the third period.
East Lincoln blocked a Teeters punt, and Clayon Conner picked the ball out of the air and ran 18 yards to get East Lincoln within a single point.
The Warriors (1-2) answered the Mustang touchdown with a seven-play, 42-yard drive.
Nelson capped the drive with a 20-yard scoring run on a quarterback draw.
East Lincoln pulled within two points with 7:44 to play in the fourth quarter when Sykes stretched the West Caldwell defense toward the sideline before he turned up field and scored from 10 yards out.
On the Warrior 38 with 6:30 remaining, the Mustangs blocked a second Warrior punt, and Jeff Tinsley pulled the ball out of the air and started running toward the Mustang end zone. But Tinsley was stripped of the ball, and West Caldwellâ€™s John Corpening pounced to return the ball to the Warriors.
East Lincoln got the ball two more times in the final five minutes of the game, but the drives were ended with a punt and an interception.
by Special to the LTN