The Tigers Overpower the Indians
CATAWISSA, PA: In a very physical ball game, the Tigers of Southern Columbia utilized their athleticism to defeat a much-improved Shamokin Indians team. With emotions running high, this backyard rivalry was full of hard-hitting and extra effort. Tough the hitting tended to extend beyond the whistles in the first half of play, the coaches got their teams settled down enough to play some good, hard-nosed, coal region football.
Things started to look bad early on for the Indians when Jared Haddock got the ball knocked loose at the line of scrimmage only two plays after the kick-off. Tyler Levan recovered the ball for Southern, setting up excellent field position at the Shamokin 25 yard-line. A Pass from Jake Townsend connected with Casey Savitski for 11 yards, then Jake Morton scrambled for six more to set up the Tyrell Thomas score with only one minute 54 seconds off of the clock. Colton Yeick connected with his first of six PAT’s on the night to make the score 7-0 Tigers.
Shamokin was able to put together a decent drive to answer back, but it came up empty. Quarterback, Lee Suspic, hit Haddock for a completion of 19 yards to the Indian 44. Then Jared Montgomery found a seam and burst 46 yards to the Southern 6. The first of several personal fouls against Shamokin moved the ball back to the 21, where the Tiger defense made a stand, forcing a 34 yard field goal attempt that missed its mark.
The squads traded three-and-out series before Southern produced its first big drive. Long runs from Thomas (18 yds.), Savitski (19 yds.), and Townsend(10yds.) set up a one yard touchdown dive by Morton to extend the lead to 14-0. The Tiger defense came up big again on an Alex Fidler sack for an 11 yard loss, but a phantom personal foul call almost gave the Indians new life. However, the Indians decided to punt on a 4th&1, giving Southern the ball at their own 21. It took only six plays for SoCo to travel the 79 yards to pay-dirt this time. Aaron Zigarski rumbled for 12, when continued extra curricular activity drew another personal foul, advancing the ball into Shamokin territory at the 45. Two plays later Townsend threw a short pass to Thomas, who broke two tackles and turned on the afterburners for a 40 yard touchdown. Southern’s defense was able to stymie a 10 play, 51 yard drive on big stops for losses of 6 yards by Brad Fegley, and a 12 yard sack by Blake Nevius. SoCo maintained a 21-0 lead going into the half.
Southern received the ball to open the third quarter and kept it on the ground for short yardage over the next six plays until Townsend tossed an outside screen to Thomas, who, once again, broke tackles and out ran defenders on the way to a 47 yard touchdown. He accounted for half of SoCo’s six touchdowns while carrying the ball eight times for 54 yards and a score, and catching it three times for 88 yards and a pair of TD’s.
However, Shamokin regained some poise and quickly answered back. This time Montgomery took advantage of a huge hole in the center of the line to rocket, virtually untouched, 67 yards to put Shamokin on the board. If the Indians were hoping to move within striking distance of the Tigers, that hope was soon dashed. After Tim Benner ran the kick return to the Southern 40, and Zigarski tacked on another 8 yards, Townsend found a wide-open Jake Becker over the middle on a 52 yard TD catch-and-run. With the score 35-7 at 6:13 in the third quarter, time was running out for the Indians. They were able to add another touchdown after Morton lost the ball at the Shamokin 25 yard-line. Despite a stout defensive stand, including a sack by Southern’s Matt Moore, the Indians fought their way to the endzone after a three yard dive by Montgomery. The two-point conversion attempt was dropped for a loss yielding a score of 35-13 with the fourth quarter looming.
Another great return by Benner gave the Tigers excellent field position at the Indian 45, but this time they were forced to give the ball over on downs at the 21 yard marker. The defense eagerly took over and drove the Indians backwards. Moore continued to wreak havoc on the line and then Fidler blitzed in for a sack on the goal-line. Trying to find a little breathing room on 3rd and 31, Montgomery hit the middle only to be meet by black jerseys, resulting in a fumble at the three which was scooped up by Brad Fegley and run into the endzone. This ended the scoring at 42-13 and gave the Indians their first loss of the season.
Shamokin(2-1) travels to Selinsgrove(0-3) to take on a faltering Seals team that showed signs of improvement this week in a 21-20 State Championship rematch loss to Manheim Central. The Division 1 Heartland Conference AAA contest will be indicative as to which coach can regroup his team better after a tough loss.
Southern Columbia(3-0) did a good job of moving the ball forward in the game, rushing 40 times for 229 yards and two TD’s. Townsend had another solid night passing with the help of some great running after the catch. He went 7 of 13 for 171 yards and three TD’s with no interceptions. The Tigers will travel to Central Columbia(0-3) next friday to take on a struggling Blue Jay team before entering a stretch of games that Coach Roth described as a “meat grinder” to finish out the regular season. Averaging over 44 points in their first three games, while allowing an average of 13, the Tigers look fit for the task. But, they will have to keep up the intensity every week if they hope to return to Hershey after three rebuilding seasons away.
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