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Susquehanna Township “bedeviled” by Greencastle-Antrim

Written by: on Saturday, September 18th, 2010. Follow Josh Funk on Twitter.


SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP, Pa. – As Susquehanna Township sophomore speedster Colby Grant awaited the second half kickoff, one of his teammates shouted out, “Take it to the crib!”

The crib?

“Yeah, the crib,” the player said.

Greencastle-Antrim, however, did more than just take it to the crib.  They took it right to Susquehanna Township using a physical, battering and opportunistic Wing-T offense and stingy defense.

The Blue Devils (3-0) ran for more than 200 yards and overcame a 13-0 first half deficit to defeat the Indians (2-1) 24-16 from Roscoe Warner Field Friday evening.

The story of this night was turnovers – Susquehanna Township committed three to Greencastle’s one.  Penalties also bit Susquehanna to the tune of eight flags for 51 yards, including a pair of costly pass interference penalties that set up Blue Devil touchdowns.

And when the Indians started the second half with great field position following a 56-yard kickoff return by Grant, the red and black turned it over on downs after six plays.

“In big games like this, turnovers are going to hurt you,” said ST head coach Joe Headon. “We were our own worst enemy tonight.”

Yet early on, it appeared that Greencastle-Antrim’s 40-minute drive up Interstate-81 was going to be for naught.

Susquehanna Township blew right out of the gates, operating out of a single back formation for much of the first half.  In the Indians’ first nine carries, they tallied 67 yards, and proved to be much quicker than the Blue Devils.

And G-A had no answer for Leroy McClain, a 5’9, 166-pound junior for the Indians.

McClain got the scoring started with a 35-yard reception from junior Anthony Gelbaugh, and pushed the Indian margin to 13-0 with an 81-yard reception just 55 seconds into the second quarter.  But after that juncture, McClain caught just one more pass this night.

“We made an adjustment on him,” G-A head coach Chuck Tinninis said. “We slid our safety over on him (and that’s how we got a pick later in the ball game).”

Then, Greencastle started chipping away.  Slowly but surely and methodically, the Blue Devils moved down the field, answering the 81-yard ST pass with a nine-play, 59-yard drive that chewed over four minutes of game clock.  Chad Miller got G-A on the board with a 12-yard scoring run.

Susquehanna Township allowed G-A to go into half down 13-10 thanks to an interception thrown by Gelbaugh with 3:05 left in the quarter.  With the Devils in business at their own 27, they moved all the way to the Indian 13 before Luke Bittner drilled a 30-yard field goal with 16 seconds left.

The Indians pushed their lead to 16-10 with 2:00 left in the third quarter thanks to a 25-yard field goal, but squandered great field position after a Grant 30-yard punt return to the G-A 26 yard line.

“The defense stood up when it had to,” Tinninis said.

Big, rugged senior fullback Tyler Szaflarski gave Greencastle its first lead of the game, 17-16, with 11:19 left in the game after a one-yard scoring run, and after forcing a second Gelbaugh interception with 8:40 left in the game, senior quarterback Devin Schaeffer (converted to QB from RB last season), scored on a 16-yard run with 4:55 left.

“We got down early but we never gave up,” sad Szaflarski, who finished with a game-high 81 yards on 21 carries.

Susquehanna Township still had one last gasp left, but G-A recovered an errant snap with 2:47 left on the clock, and six straight Szaflarski runs sealed the victory and 3-0 start for the boys from Franklin County.

“That’s a good football team,” Headon said. “But I know we can play better than that. We will play better than that.”

Beyond Szaflarski, G-A’s ground attack was paced by Denver Cordell (17 rush, 54 yards), Miller (6 rush, 35 yards, TD) and Schaeffer (8 rush, 34 yards, TD).  In all, the Blue Devils finished with 302 yards of offense (202 rushing on 52 carries) and 18 first downs.

Gelbaugh threw for 201 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Susquehanna Township, and McClain had three receptions for 138 yards.  Senior Brandon Baltimore finished with 36 yards on nine totes for the Indians, who ran for 100 yards and finished with 301 yards of offense.

Tinninis might have summed it up best.

“In tight games, turnovers are a factor, aren’t they?” he asked, almost rhetorically.

This rhetorical question, however, has an answer: a loud, resounding yes.

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