Southern Battles Back for Win
MEMORIAL STADIUM- By the early third quarter, it looked as though the Montoursville Warriors would win this first-time match-up between these two state powers with a hand full of big offensive plays. After two lackluster series by each team to start the game, Jason Cristini set off the first spark for the Warriors on a 33 yard punt return to the Tiger 27. On the very next play, Josh Cillo scampered the distance for the opening score. A missed PAT made it 6-0 with 4:25 left in the opening quarter.
Southern then put together a signature 70 yard drive on eight plays, but uncharacteristically failed to capitalize, as they turned the ball over on downs at the Warrior two yard line. This did pin Montoursville deep in their own territory, setting up a high snap on the punt to give Southern a two-point safety and possession after the kick. The possession should have been a good one for the Tigers after Steve Roth returned the kick to the Warrior 23, but Sam Springer had the ball pop loose on the very next play on an nine yard run.
Cody Haupt’s recovery gave the Warriors the ball at their own 14. Unable to gain much on the ground, Montoursville executed an option pass with Haupt sweeping to the right, drawing defenders to the line, then throwing to a wide open Aaron Russell who took off running. He was stopped just short of the goal line after gaining 82 yards. Haupt got the score from six yards out two plays later. The score was 13-2 with 8:15 left in the half.
Southern needed to get to the endzone before half-time. Over the next six minutes and 50 seconds they pounded it out on the ground with help from 19 and 10 yard runs from Austin Carpenter. On the 14th play of the 73-yard drive, Roth punched it in from the three to bring the Tigers within five at 13-8 before going to the locker room.
After receiving the second half kick-off, Southern drove 26 yards before they started shooting themselves in the foot. An ill-timed holding penalty, a sack, and incomplete pass killed the drive in its tracks. Two plays after the ensuing punt, Haupt broke free for a 59 yard touchdown run.
With the score now 20-8 half way through the third quarter, things were beginning to seem hopeless for the Tigers. But, the offense was fighting back with a 12 yard run on an inside reverse to Matt Miller, then a 34 yard strike from Jeremy Campbell to Springer. The tide seemed to be turning until, on third down, an errant pass by Campbell was picked off by Russell at the Warrior 20.
The Southern defense was determined to get the ball back though, forcing a punt after three plays and only three yards by the Warriors. SCA’s offense would again sputter after a penalty and two incomplete passes. So the defense stepped it up another notch, driving the Warriors backwards on three plays and a fumbled snap. This time, the Tiger offense was able to seize the opportunity with a relentless rushing attack to the 13, where Campbell hooked up with Joe Admire on a diving catch in the endzone. The score was within five again at 20-15, but time was ticking down to 6:34 in the final period.
On Montoursville’s next possession, Cillo rushed three times when he met up with a crushing hit by Ben Snarsky which knocked the ball loose and back to the Tigers.
SCA needed only 30 yards to take the lead and Roth would not be denied. With runs of 14, 12 and the final four to paydirt, he gave Southern their first lead of the night at 21-20. If that didn’t seal the deal, the the stifling defense made sure of it. They knocked the Warriors backwards on three consecutive plays from the 23 all the way to the goal line. On the punt attempt, the punter’s foot stepped out of the endzone giving up a second safety. All Southern needed to do now was get a first down and run out the clock, which is exactly what they did.
Montoursville(1-1) managed 129 yards and three TD’s on 33 carries against a very tough defense. They only threw once, on the 82-yarder from Haupt to Russell. They travel to Bloomsburg next Friday to take on a very determined Panther(2-0) squad in another cross division Heartland Conference game.
Southern racked up 258 yards and two TD’s on the ground on 53 carries. The passing game continues to struggle, going 3 for 10 with one interception. But, the the completions netted 63 yards and a crucial touchdown. They continue their cross divisional games next Friday against (AAA) Jersey Shore (1-1). The Bulldogs rebounded this week to beat Shikellamy 35-7.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: