Southern Opens with Victory
CATAWISSA– After losing in the district IV semi-final on their own field to end last season, the Southern Columbia Tigers have been waiting nine long months to reclaim their winning ways. It had been their first playoff loss in 26 games and first loss at home since the 2005 season opener OT loss to Shamokin. What better way to clean the slate and make a new start than to take down that same arch rival in the all-new Heartland Conference?
Despite giving up four turn-overs and four sacks, the Tigers still managed a 35-22 victory by way of a pounding running game and a punishing defense. Shamokin opened the game on offense by netting negative five yards on three plays before punting.
Southern’s first possession began at their own 42, where Steve Roth and Austin Carpenter combined forces to get into Indian territory on three rushes. Roth then broke free from the 42 to find the endzone and open the scoring. Bryan Snyder’s PAT made it 7-0 with 8:10 remaining in the first quarter.
After the ensuing kickoff, Shamokin again went three and out, punting the ball back to SCA at the Indian 46. With good field position, the Tigers were on the move again on runs by Roth and Sam Springer. But, that is when the “fumble-itis” struck, as quarterback Jeremy Campbell lost his grip on the ball at the 19 yard-line, where Nick Domanski recovered for Shamokin.
The Indians managed 9 yards on three plays before punting. But then Carpenter lost the ball on Southern’s first play of that series. The Tiger defense, however, stymied the Indians again as they punted after only seven yards on three plays.
From their own 20, Southern began to march. Despite a sack and two more fumbles, they managed to retain possession and rumble 80 yards on the legs of the rushing trio. Roth capped the drive with a six yard touchdown burst.
The Tiger defense came up big again after a 33 yard completion from Edward Tayler to Leo Mirolli got Shamokin into Southern territory at the 34. Curtis Nichols picked off a pass at the 13. Four plays later, Roth would lose the ball again on a hard tackle, where Shamokin’s Kory Kramer recovered at the 22 yardline. A 19 yard toss to sophomore Jared Montgomery set up a first and goal at the three. Nick Domansky then took it around the left side into the endzone, pulling to within six at 14-8.
The second half opened with more mental mistakes on offense as Southern’s Campbell threw a pass directly into the waiting arms of linebacker, Tyler Scicchitano. The Tiger defense continued to get the ball back though, eventually setting up a possession at the SC 22, where Springer had a 78-yard break-away touchdown to seal the game early in the fourth quarter.
Unable to find any rushing success, Shamokin continued to air the ball out, connecting on two touchdowns of 34 and 47 yards late in the fourth as Southern began substitutions. A final rushing touchdown of 34 yards by Roth kept the Indians at bay.
Shamokin(0-1) hosts another division rival, Mount Carmel(1-0), next Friday in the Coal Bucket Classic. MCA is coming off their big win over division I Selinsgrove, while the Indians struggled to net more than 20 yards on the ground against the stingy Tiger defense. They did however have some passing success to the tune of 228 yards and 2 touchdowns, going 11/23 with one interception.
Southern Columbia(1-0) will have to clean up their offensive mistakes before traveling to Montoursville to start what is sure to be an instant classic match-up with the Warriors(1-0). On the bright side, they still managed to compile 401 yards on the ground while turning the ball over four times. The paltry 29 yard net passing on four receptions in seven attempts with one interception will need to improve. The run defense was excellent and should improve on pass coverage as well.
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