Lehigh Valley Will Travel to Nashville for a Shot at the Title
Bethlehem, PA: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (7-6) are headed to the PFIL championship for the first time in franchise history! They defeated the Trenton Freedom (8-5) 49-38 to claim the National Conference title on Saturday night. They will travel to Nashville who defeated the Columbus Lions 43-39 in the American Conference Final.
Tonight’s game was a defensive battle the entire time. The first half was back and forth; the score was tied three different times. Trenton was the first to put points on the board on the opening possession. The Steelhawks would waste no time in answering with a touchdown of their own when QB Shane McSweeny (16-24, 278 yards, 4tds, 30 yds rushing, 1 TD) found WR Troy Pascley (7 catches, 157 yards, 4 TDs) for a 40 yard touchdown completion; tying the game at seven. After having possession of the ball for almost four minutes, Trenton QB Warren Smith (24-41, 289 yds, 5tds) would find WR Maurice McDonald (4 catches, 68 yds, 2 td) for a touchdown to take the lead and an uno would extend that lead to eight. Lehigh Valley would be called on a holding penalty in their own endzone, resulting in a safety; and Trenton seemed to be building momentum. But it was short-lived. DB Leavander Jones (5 tackles, 2pbus) would catch Smith as he tried to escape the pocket forcing a turnover on downs and giving the Steelhawks the ball back as the first quarter came to a close.
The Steelhawks would begin their comeback in the second quarter. McSweeny would hit Pascley for another long touchdown catch early in the quarter to cut the Freedom’s lead to three. On Trenton’s next possession, LB Cory Darby (4.5 tackles, 1 int, 1 pbu) would level Smith when he tried a quarter back sneak into the endzone on fourth and one giving the Steelhawks the ball back. K Michael Barnard would hit a 23 yard field goal on the following possession to tie the game at 17. Lehigh Valley then took the lead when DB Dwayne Hollis (6.5 tackles, 1 int, 1 td) grabbed his 10th interception on the year (breaking the franchise’s all-time interception record) and returned it for a touchdown. Trenton would drive the length of the field and tie the game up at 24; and at halftime that’s where the game stood.
Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter as the defenses’ battled it out. Teams would trade long field goal attempts, but neither could connect. The action would pick back up in fourth however. The McSweeny and Pascley due struck again to give the Steelhawks the lead that they wouldn’t look back from. A Barnard uno put Lehigh Valley up by eight. The Steelhawks’ defense would make another big play when DL Michael Woodhouse (3 tackles, 1tfl) tipped the ball at the line and Darby came up with his first interception of the year. Lehigh Valley would capitalize on the turnover and put three points on the board off the leg of Barnard. With 9:26 left on the clock the Steelhawks led, 35-24. Trenton would keep fighting, Smith and McDonald would combine for another Freedom touchdown, but their two point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. As the clock ran down, McSweeny would use his athletic ability on the ground and scrap his way into the endzone from two yards out giving the Steelhawks a more comfortable lead, 42-30. With 1:23 left in the game, Trenton would find the endzone again when Smith lofted a pass to Landis Williams. Williams would be on the receiving end of the two point conversion, cutting the Steelhawks lead back to four. With 42 seconds left, McSweeny would find Pascley for his fourth touchdown of the game, this one a 45 yard bomb that would seal the deal for the Steelhawks. The game would end with the final score of: Steelhawks 49, Freedom 38.
The PIFL championship will be next weekend inside the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, July 12th at 8pm EST. The Steelhawks will be posting updates on Facebook and Twitter for all fans back in the Valley. Live streaming of the game will be announced later this week.
Categories: Steel Hawks