Janis wills Eagles to win over L-S QB’s amazing fourth quarter ignites Cocalico
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Jhett Janis wears the number "3′ on his jersey. But Friday night at Lampeter-Strasburg, it should have be a big "S," as in Superman.
With his Eagles trailing 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, Cocalico was in need of a spark Friday night at Lampeter-Strasburg. And what Janis did was turn in a fourth quarter for the ages.
In what Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich called "an all-time performance," Janis put his team on his back and lead the Eagles to a 35-17 come-from-behind victory. The Cocalico senior intercepted two passes, ran for scores of 46 and 50 yards, and returned a punt 60 yards for another touchdown.
All in the final 12 minutes.
On the night, the QB/safety/punt returner had three total picks and scored all five Cocalico touchdowns as the Eagles (4-1 L-L, 7-1 overall) remained one game back of Section Two frontrunner Manheim Central (8-0) with the victory.
"I coached his brother (the late Brett Janis), and his brother was very, very good," Gingrich said. "But Jhett’s performance tonight is all-time. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. And he did it in different ways … whew."
Lampeter-Strasburg coach John Manion agreed.
"He was the difference in the game," he said. "They have a lot of good players but tonight (Janis) took over."
The Pioneers (3-2, 4-4) took a 17-14 lead on a Collin Shank one-yard QB sneak with 13 seconds left in the third, and seemingly had all of the momentum. However, that quickly changed, thanks to the Cocalico quarterback.
After breaking off a 20-yard run on first down, two plays later, Janis took off up the middle, broke down the left side and raced 46 yards for the score to give the Eagles the lead for good at 21-17.
But he was far from done.
Three plays later, Janis picked off Shank for the second time over the middle and gave the Eagles the ball at the Pioneer 30. The L-S defense stiffened and eventually forced a Cocalico punt, but the Eagles’ then forced a three-and-out of their own and the Pioneers kicked it back to the Eagles.
Unfortunately for them, they kicked it to Janis. He hauled it in at his own 40 and broke it up the middle before dodging one last tackler for the scintillating 60-yard touchdown return with 6:30 to play to up the lead to 28-17.
L-S then drove to its own 41 before Janis picked off his third pass of the night, hauling it in and tapping his feet inbounds in front of the Pioneer sideline. Three plays later, Janis capped his amazing night with a 50-yard touchdown run.
"I didn’t do it alone," Janis said of his fourth-quarter heroics. " I had my team out there with me. But as a quarterback I just step up and take charge. I’m a safety so I’m in charge of a lot of the defensive calls. … I just stepped up and made the plays and we ended up winning so that’s what I’m most happy about."
It certainly wasn’t an easy one for the Eagles, who were facing one of the top offenses in the league led by Shank. And the sophomore didn’t disappoint. Shank, who finished the game completing 20 of 39 passes for 230 yards, directed an 11-play, 65-yard opening drive that Dan Lind capped with a three-yard touchdown run to give the Pioneers a quick 7-0 lead.
"(Shank) is a stud," Gingrich said of the sophomore QB. "We had four years of his brother (Nate), and his brother was very good. But two years of him (remaining), I think he has the ability to be better than his brother."
But the Eagles responded with a scoring drive of their own as Janis, who rushed for 167 yards on 14 carries, closed out a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard plunge to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:55 to go in the first.
The Pioneers went back on top at 10-7 advantage midway through the second quarter when kicker Matthew Wright booted a 40-yard field goal. But Cocalico grabbed the lead just before the half after – you guessed it – a Janis interception, gave the Eagles the ball at the L-S 35 with 1:34 to go in the half. Three plays later, Janis rolled left, reversed field and went 34 yards to give Cocalico a 14-10 advantage at the half.
Shank’s score late in the third capped a 15-play drive that was kept alive by a roughing the punter penalty. However, that only set the stage for Janis’ amazing fourth-quarter finish.
In addition to Janis, Spencer Moser also eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground for Cocalico, finishing with 101 yards on 13 carries.
Up next, the Eagles, who remain one game behind Manheim Central, travel to Elizabethtown this Friday before closing out the regular season at home Nov. 1 vs. Ephrata.
More JANIS, page B-8