Tigers Maul the Eagles…Again
CATAWISSA RD: The much-anticipated rematch between the Eagles of Line Mountain and the Tigers of Southern Columbia Area had finally arrived. Many questions were buzzing in the minds of players and fans from both teams as to how this game might be different. The Eagles had jumped to and early 20-point lead to open their season in Herndon back on September 4th, only to have the Tigers roar back with 49 unanswered points, and serve them with their only loss of the season to date. That game was marked by seven Line Mountain turn-overs (3 interceptions/4 fumbles) and the loss of their talented starting quarterback part-way through the second quarter. The question remaining to be answered was how Southern would fair in a full game against a healthy squad of Eagles, especially given the injury woes that have whittled down the Tigers’ starting line-up.
That question was answered right from the beginning after Southern kicked-off to Line Mountain to start the 2010 District IV “A” championship. The Tiger defense opened by shutting down the potent Eagle offense on its first two possessions. Netting zero yards and two punts on those first series, it was the Eagles who were having a slow start this time around.
The Tiger offense answered with scoring drives each time. In fact they scored on every possession in the first half. The first drive featured long bursts by Tim Benner of 22 & 23 yards, capped by a 1-yard keeper by Jake Townsend for the score.
On their second chance with the ball, Jake Morton found his form and rumbled for 8 & 16 yards to set up a 32-yard toss by Townsend to Tyrell Thomas in the endzone and a 14-0 lead.
Finally, on the Eagle’s third possession, Marty Beninsky kept the ball and raced around the right side for a 59-yard touchdown to get LM back into the game. This was more like what the crowd was expecting with the scoreboard showing 14-7.
It was time for Southern’s coach, Jim Roth, to slow things down. He kept the ball in the hands of his running backs and quarterback, chewing up 65 yards on 11 running plays. Morton capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown to go up 21-7.
Line Mountain’s coach, Mike Carson, attempted to answer in-kind, and was doing just that on an 11-play, 70-yard drive. However, Kyle Troutman never really had the ball on a hand-off deep in Southern territory. The ball hit the grass and was recovered by the Tigers on their own 4 yard-line. On the very next play, Morton was looking to give Southern some breathing room on a dive play up the middle. The offensive line made a big hole in the Eagle defense. Big Jake made a cut and rocketed 96 yards for a touchdown. It was his second TD in as many touches of the ball.
From there everything fell apart for the Eagles. Much like game one of the 2010 season, the Tiger defense stepped up big-time and got the ball back on multiple turn-overs. This time Kieth Day picked-off Benensky’s pass at the LM 37. Four plays later, Townsend hit Day on a 22-yard touchdown pass. It was 35-7 going into half-time and everything was going Southern’s way.
Surprisingly, and despite great success in the running game, Roth decided to try a few more passes during the first series of the second half. And why not? Townsend was perfect at 5 for 5 on the night, gaining 95 yards and two scores. Just as surprising, was the fact that the Tigers’ 14-play, 81-yard drive was halted on downs at the 1-yard line.
That defensive stand for the Eagles proved to be a short-lived victory, however. Two plays later, Day got his second pick of the night and ran it back to the Line Mountain 9. A 9-yard touchdown by Thomas invoked the “Mercy Rule” with the score 42-7.
Tyler Levan got an interception to thwart the Eagles’ next drive, but Joey Hukill countered that with a pick of his own against the Tiger reserves on an under-thown pass. The interception was taken the distance from mid-field to the endzone for Line Mountain’s only score of the second half.
An on-side kick attempt by Line Mountain was covered by Day to set up a time-consuming drive by the second team offense. The drive stalled at the Eagle 23, but the Tigers got the ball back quickly on a Bo Kiessling fumble recovery at the Eagle 27. Reminiscent of the first battle between these teams, it was Jamie Slotterback who finished off the scoring when he rumbled in from the 24 to put this one in the books at 48-13.
In all, the Tigers dominated this game in every aspect. They controlled the ball on 60 plays for 478 total yards to Line Mountain’s 32 plays and 259 yards. Jake Morton led the night with 196 yards rushing & two TD’s on 18 carries. Tim Benner knocked off 99 yards on 9 carries, and Jake Townsend’s throwing arm was hot, hitting Kieth Day twice for 22 & 10 yards w/ a TD, Tyrell Thomas for 32 & 24 w/ a TD, and Benner for 7 yards. Jamie Slotterback only got one carry on his 24-yard TD. Perhaps most importantly, the Tigers executed well throughout and only had the one turn-over when the reserves were playing.
Line Mountain(10-2) went undefeated in their Twin Valley Conference during this season, earning the second seed in the District IV playoffs, but they could not find a way the beat Southern Columbia. Their season opening, and season ending loss eleven weeks later, both came at the hands of coach Roth’s Tigers. Congratulations to the Eagles on a fine season.
Southern Columbia(10-2) cannot revel in this victory for long. Although they answered the doubts of some by repeating against Line Mountain in such a resounding fashion, they also remember well what can happen when they don’t execute well [as in the 28-21 loss to Lewisburg(11-0)] or play with no intensity [as in the 28-18 loss to Danville(12-0)]. The Tigers will need to ratchet their game up yet another notch as they take on District 2 champ, Riverside(11-0) next week. The Vikings upended the Tigers to end their playoff run in 2008 by a score of 25-7. And, while Southern is a better team than they were two years ago, so is Riverside. This game promises to be another barn-burner as the state playoffs get another game closer to Hershey. Congrats to the Tigers on winning their record 19th District Title in the past 20 years. The Black & Gold looks to be back in playoff form yet again.
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