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Milton defeats Mount Carmel Area 12-7

Written by: on Saturday, September 16th, 2023. Follow Justin Beiter on Twitter.


MILTON-All of the smiles, hugs and handshakes on the Milton sideline after the game were well-deserved. That’s because the Black Panthers earned every inch of what has to be considered one of the more surprising victories so far this season. Behind the tough running of Chris Doyle and a defense that fought its heart out all night, keeping a high-octane offense bottled up, Milton walked out of Alumni Field with a hard-earned 12-7 win over Mount Carmel.

“I don’t think I can describe it at this point,” Milton coach Curt Zettlemoyer said. “We went out Week 1 and we got our (butts) beat physically. We came back here, we went against Mount Carmel and we recovered, we responded. We finally played four quarters of football. That’s what we preach.”

A breakdown in coverage gave Milton reason to start believing on its second possession. Monte Fisher got behind the Mount Carmel secondary, and quarterback Cale Bastian didn’t miss his wide open receiver. The 55-yard touchdown pass gave the Black Panthers an early lead along with some confidence.

“It’s a springboard,” Zettlemoyer said. “Monte Fisher is a good receiver. They gave us the coverage we wanted the play before, so we were like, hey, let’s take a shot. In the second half we tried to hit it again, but we just didn’t complete it.”

Mount Carmel (2-2) had no problems moving the ball throughout the first three games, but the Red Tornadoes failed to establish any consistent rhythm on offense. The running game was held in check. Dropped passes, coupled with untimely penalties, stopped potential momentum-seizing drives. A bad snap, leading to a 7-yard punt, gave the Red Tornadoes a short field to navigate early in the second quarter. Luke Blessing cashed in on the mistake with a 4-yard touchdown run that gave Mount Carmel a brief 7-6 lead. Blessing rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries.

“I just thought right from the start we struggled,” Mount Carmel coach John Darrah said. “I’m not sure what the reason was, but we just had a lot of miscues. In reality, I’m the head coach, so it’s on me. At the end of the day, I’ve got to figure out where the disconnect was. I thought we had a really good week of practice. Like I said, it’s on me. We’ve got to get better.”

Doyle was a workhorse for Milton, as he carried the ball 30 times for 156 yards, which included the game-clinching first down on a 17-yard run with just under two minutes remaining. Milton (3-1) had success running behind the left side of its offensive line, and Doyle was the beneficiary. His 27-yard scamper in the second quarter set up what turned out to be the game-winning score. Bastian broke out of something resembling a rugby scrum, and plowed his way across the goal line on a 2-yard sneak with 2:41 left in the first half.

“Phenomenal,” Zettlemoyer said of his offensive line. “Phenomenal. We had some injuries early that kind of hurt us at the end of the first quarter, and beginning of the second. They came back in the second half, and they produced like they need to.”

Milton had multiple chances to build on the lead in the second half, but failed to do so. A 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked, and another drive was stopped on downs in the red zone. Mount Carmel got the ball back with 7:32 left to play, and it looked like the Red Tornadoes were ready to provide some late-game dramatics. Blessing had a 12-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty, and the 16-play drive came to end on fourth down when a Cole Spears’ pass fell incomplete.

“I think they played hard, definitely give them credit,” Darrah said. “They came out here and they fought hard. I thought towards the end of the game, they were physical, but we had opportunities. We had some uncharacteristic mistakes, and I guess I’ll take the blame for it.”

Three weeks ago, Milton was shutout against South Williamsport. The Black Panthers were able to bounce back with easy wins over Towanda and Midd-West. Friday’s victory should definitely erase much of the disappointment that came out of opening night.

“It’s a very exciting win,” Zettlemoyer said. “I’m so happy for the boys, and more importantly, I’m happy for this community.”

Mount Carmel 0 7 0 0-7
Milton                 6 6 0 0-12
Individual Scoring
First Quarter
M-Monte Fisher 55 pass from Cale Bastian (kick blocked) 6:02
Second Quarter
MC-Luke Blessing 4 run (Robert Schoppy kick) 8:25
M-Bastian 2 run (run failed) 2:41
Team Statistics
1st downs…….15…………12
pass yds……..79………63
total yds…….207…..235
Individual Statistics
Rushing-Mount Carmel: Luke Blessing 18-70, TD; Xavier Diaz 10-32; Cole Spears 7-23; Al Bailey 2-2; Gavin Marshalek 1-1. Milton: Chris Doyle 30-156; Cale Bastian 11-11, TD; Jaeden Canelo 2-7; Monte Fisher 2-0; Team 2-(-2).
Passing-Mount Carmel: Spears 10-23-0, 56 yds.; Marshalek 3-3-0, 23 yds. Milton: Bastian 3-9-0, 63 yds., TD.
Receiving-Mount Carmel: Jacob Schultz 5-43; Chase Balichik 4-30; Diaz 2-8; Bailey 1-3; Orville Fesniak 1-(-5). Milton: Fisher 2-65, TD; Peyton Rearick 1-(-2).

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