Southern Comes From Behind…And Then Some
HERNDON, PA- The Tigers of Southern Columbia have often been accused of being “slow starters” in that it might take them a few games to gel at the beginning of a season. However, with the brutal schedule they have facing them this year, a slow start is a luxury they could not afford. This must be why Southern condensed that collective flaw into just one quarter of play. You see, for the first twelve minutes, of what would become a wild season opener against the Line Mountain Eagles, the Tigers seemed to be on their heels against the ropes. Was it just opening jitters or were they testing the Eagles’ strengths and weaknesses? Either way, they came out swinging as soon as the second quarter arrived…
After a nerve-wracking quarter when Eagles signal-caller, Marty Beninsky ran the veer offense with near perfection… after Beninsky, along with running backs, Joey Hukill & Kyle Troutman, and receiver, Mike Marciniak, amassed 196 yards and three touchdowns, compiling 20 unanswered points… the Tigers snapped out of their lethargic daze and came roaring to life. On the first play of the second period Alex Fidler blitzed from his outside linebacker position and sacked Beninsky for a loss of eleven yards. The next play was the first of seven turnovers as Kieth Day intercepted a pass. An ensuing personal foul gave Southern excellent field position, but they were still unable to capitalize, punting back to Line Mountain at the Eagle six yard-line. Two plays later, Tim Benner decided to get in on the interception action. This gave Southern the ball at the LM 26. Tyrell Thomas then broke free on a 21 yard run, setting up a five yard score by Aaron Zigarski which narrowed the gap to 20-6.
Next, the Tiger defense stiffened and forced the Eagles to turn the ball over on downs after only netting five yards. The possession was short lived, however, as Thomas fumbled the ball back to LM on the end of a 22 yard run. Unshaken, the SoCo defense stepped up again and got the ball back with another Benner interception. This time the Tigers put together a 12 play, 53 yard drive, capped by a Jake Morton 10 yard TD and two-point conversion. Things began looking very bad for Line Mountain when the ensuing kick return was fumbled away due to a great hit by Kyle Zigarski. However, Southern ran out of time to reach the endzone, and the teams went to the lockerrooms with the score at 20-14.
It was obvious to all that Southern retained their momentum through half-time when Matt Moore recovered yet another fumble near mid-field to set up the go-ahead score. This time Jake Townsend would connect with Thomas for 27 yards, Morton rumbled for 16, and Thomas punched it in from the two to go ahead 21-20. The Tigers never gave up and never looked back… Next a high snap in the shot-gun sailed over the quarterback’s head and was recovered by Fidler at the LM 11. Townsend ran a keeper into the endzone from the five. Morton added another score with a minute left in the third quarter. Then, a few seconds later on the clock, Jamie Slotterback got a sack and forced a fourth fumble which was recovered by Fidler at the five yard marker. A five yard touchdown run by Thomas bumped the score up to 42-20 only 19 seconds after the previous touchdown.
Southern tacked on another score mid way through the fourth on a five yard Slotterback run, as the substitutes took over and a struggling Eagle team completely ran out of steam. A final score of 49-20 would cap one of the biggest come-from-behind victories in Southern’s history, and “One of the most interesting games” in Coach Roth’s long tenure with the Tigers. “It was a great win because we finally started to play Southern Columbia football,” Roth commented to the players after the game. It was truly a great opening game experience as many first-year starters settled into their new roles quickly, and returning starters assumed some much-needed leadership.
Line Mountain(0-1) will have time to regroup after the heart-breaking loss, as they travel to Pottsville to take on the Green Wave of Nativity BVM(1-0) in Twin Valley Conference action.
Southern Columbia(1-0) can have no let-up as the continue on the road at Montoursville(1-0) in their first Heartland Conference match-up of 2010.
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