Southern Columbia Overpowers Bloomsburg
CATAWISSA: After a tough loss in week 5 to unbeaten Lewisburg, the Tigers of Southern Columbia had something to prove, both to themselves and those who follow local high school football. The previous week’s 28-21 loss came thanks to five turnovers, gobs of penalty yards, and the game-ending injury of a top defensive player at the onset of the contest – not to mention a fine, state-ranked AA Lewisburg team. This time it was the Bloomsburg Panthers’ turn to come into Tiger Stadium as the unbeaten team to challenge SoCo. The much-anticipated rivalry was preceded with plenty of hype, speculation, and trash-talking. It was time to prove which team was better on the field…
It was obvious from the first whistle that this was going to be a hard-hitting affair with plenty of emotion behind each crack of the pads. The Panthers received the opening kick, but could do little with it, as they punted to Southern after just three plays and four yards. The Tigers, on the other hand, looked like they would take control early, marching 67 yards to the end-zone with the help of two 20 yard runs by Tim Benner and Jake Townsend capped by Jake Morton’s one yard touchdown. After another 3&out series by Bloomsburg, the Tigers were on the move again until a twelve yard pass to Kieth Day was stripped and recovered by the Panthers. However, SoCo’s defense was firing on all cylinders, and they shut the potent Panther offense down with three more 3&out series in the first half. Bloomsburg was held to a dismal 17 yards rushing in the first half, while Southern put together an 87 yard drive to extend their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter. Tyrell Thomas had receptions of 19 & 21 yards and a gutsy run of 20 yards to set up a 14 yard toss from Townsend to Cody Rosenberger for the score.
Only some timely help form the guys in black and white would enable Bloomsburg to put points on the board in the first half. A picture-perfect defensive play was called interference by an official well away from the play, despite another official having a plain view of it. Then a short pass from Blake Rankin to Anthony Stone was allowed to go for 23 yards to the Southern five despite a blatant hold in front of the play. Three plays later, Rankin hit John Klingerman on a four yard TD pass. After receiving the ensuing kick-off, SoCo moved the ball 42 yards, but ran out of time as the half ended with only a 14-7 lead for the Tigers.
The second half opened with more frustration for Southern. A 17 yard pass to Jake Becker was fumbled away to Bloom near mid-field to kill the opening drive. Later, Townsend had the ball stripped loose as he attempted a pass near the Tiger goal-line. This set up a one yard touchdown by Rankin on a QB sneak. Somehow the score was tied at 14 mid-way through the third quarter. The Tigers found themselves needing to regain momentum despite out-gaining their opponents nearly 4-to-1 at that point. Tyrell Thomas quickly generated the momentum needed. He got the hand-off on the first play after the kick-off and ran around the right side, warding off a would-be tackler near the line of scrimmage with a stiff-arm. After turning the corner along the side-line, he cut toward the middle and juked several more defenders on his way to the 70 yard touchdown run.
Regaining the lead at 21-14, the Tigers did not let up. Morton found his feet and burst in from 10 yards out to make it 28-14. Then he raced for a 16 yard score to go up 35-14. In all, Morton rushed 19 times for 130 yards and three TD’s, plus three receptions for 21 yards. Southern’s defense continued to hold strong, forcing the Panthers to 3&out series 10 times in the game. They allowed only 10 net yards rushing, and limited Rankin to 129 yards passing with one interception.
Not to be out-done, Thomas compiled 145 yards on the ground and added 82 yards receiving. He also broke a second long run for 59 yards to the end-zone, but it was called back on a chop-block penalty – one of three called in the game (apparently the difference between a cut-block and chop-block is lost on some). Tyler Levan added the final score on a 7 yard touchdown run to bring the score to 41-14.
BLOOMSBURG falls to 5-1 with the loss, and will host a tough Hughesville(5-1) squad next week. They must not look past this game in preparing to face Danville(6-0) in week nine. Their defensive ability to force turn-overs was one bright spot in this game, but they were unable to stop the run or the pass consistently against Southern.
SOUTERN COLUMBIA improves to 5-1 and can have no let up as they continue deeper into their grueling schedule. The Tigers travel to Danville next Friday to take on the undefeated Ironmen. The SoCo defense will have to be at its best in this one, and while the offense managed to amass over 600 yards against Bloomsburg, they will have to avoid costly turn-overs and penalties.
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