ARMAGH — The United Lions finally won at home.
Winless in three games at Thomas J. Madill Field this season, the Lions won their last-regular season home game, beating Purchase Line, 47-16, in a Heritage Conference matchup Friday night. Now the Lions hope to finish the season on a roll and get another home game in the District 6 playoffs.
“I’m just happy for the kids and the fans,” United coach Kevin Marabito said. “Believe it or not, this is our first win at home. We were 0-3 going into this. So it’s a nice way for our seniors to finish up their careers at home. If luck stays with us, we could actually get a home playoff game, but we’ve got to take care of business the next two weeks.”
United won two games in a row for the first time this season. The up-and-down Lions followed a big win at Homer-Center with a disappointing loss at home to Saltsburg and then bounced back last week with a double-overtime victory at West Shamokin.
It looked like more of the same might be on tap when the Lions led one-win Purchase Line 13-8 at halftime.
“We played double overtime and the kids were sky high, and you know how kids are,” Marabito said. “You look at the record and think you can sleep through this one and you’ll be all right. Really, the first half we slept through the first half. We were lethargic the whole first half. I don’t know if it was a carryover from the week before. Purchase Line went six overtimes last week and came out like they were possessed.
“We talked a little bit at halftime and the kids pulled it together. I did my say and the other coaches did their say and we just walked in the office. Then a couple kids stood up, and it paid off.”
Three United ball carriers cracked 100 yards, with Hunter Cameron and Kyle Silk combining for 235 yards and Anthony Kline-Glance going for 117 on touchdown runs of 34 and 83 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Lions opened the game with two straight touchdowns, first killing a Purchase Line drive by forcing a fumble that Hunter Cameron returned 90 yards for a touchdown. Silk scored the second touchdown on a 2-yard run for a 13-0 lead.
Purchase Line made it 13-8 in the second quarter on Josh Syster’s 20-yard pass from Jacob Bennett and Cullen Goncher’s two-point run.
United scored three straight touchdowns in the third quarter to pull away. Silk bolted 50 yards for a touchdown and then scored from the 1, and Cameron broke loose for 43 yards and a score.
Josh Syster scored Purchase Line’s other touchdown on a 55-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“The seniors have stepped up and are playing a leadership role,” Marabito said, “and not only the seniors, now the underclassmen, they’re all taking leadership roles and playing as a team. … We have two great backs with Kyle and Hunter, the offensive line is jelling together, and the defense is playing a little bit better. It’s just been a team effort.”
United takes on Marion Center next week in a matchup of teams sitting at 4-4 and jockeying for position in the final Heritage Conference standings.
In the final week of the regular season, Heritage Conference teams face WestPAC teams in matchups determined by the corresponding placement in each league. The game also carries important implications in the District 6 playoff races, with United maneuvering for position in Class 1A and Marion Center seeking a spot in Class 2A.
“I hope we’re finally climbing that mountain and starting to peak a little bit,” Marabito said. “We have to keep it going. This is the time of year when you want to start peaking, and it seems like we are stepping up now.”