Montoursville Holds off Milton Area 17-14
ALMEDIA – The 2021 season will go down as one of resurgence and resurrection for the Milton football program.
The Black Panthers put together their first winning season since 2012 this year, and last week, also notched their first playoff win since that same season.
And while there will be time to reflect on that at a later date, Friday’s District 4 Class 3A semifinal left nothing but disappointment for Milton, but that disappointment could well be a big motivator as the Black Panthers don’t figure to go nine years between winning seasons again.
An accidental recovery of what ended up effectively as an onside kick turned the momentum to Montoursville and that extra possession largely ended up being the difference as the Warriors topped the Black Panthers 17-14. The win advances Montoursville to meet Danville in next week’s district championship game, in what will be a rematch of last year’s title contest, which was won by Danville en route to the state semifinals.
“This is a good win. We just came out and fought the whole time and got a lot out of our kids and saw them fight in the second half of a game where we haven’t done that much this year,” said Montoursville coach Mike Boughton. “They pulled it together in the end and did a great job.”
Montoursville broke a halftime tie and took a 10-7 on a 31-yard field goal by Wyatt Fry that hit the crossbar and bounced over it on the Warriors’ first second-half possession after receiving the second-half kickoff.
On the ensuing kickoff, Montoursville attempted a low, driving squib kick, but it instead hit a Milton up man a little more than the requisite 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and bounced directly to an oncoming Warrior player, where it was recovered at the Milton 47-yard line.
“We’ve had trouble kicking this year and haven’t been real consistent, so we were going to squib it down the hash and it just happened to hit the kid, but it changed the momentum,” said Boughton. “Even though we didn’t mean to do that, it was big momentum changer. We weren’t getting possessions in the first half. They were playing ball control very similar to what we saw against Mount Carmel earlier in the year when we didn’t get many offensive possessions so we knew we had to make the offensive possessions count.”
The Warriors proceeded to take advantage of their good fortune, going 47 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown, capped by an eight-yard touchdown run by Kayden Frame on a fourth-and-1 play from the Milton 8, which gave Montoursville a 17-7 lead.
“I don’t think that play changed the game but the extra possession hurt us,” said Milton coach Phil Davis. “We really didn’t have the ball at all in the third quarter. It took a little air out of us but I thought we responded well coming back and made it close at the end.”
That extra possession helped Montoursville negate a 247-183 deficit in total yards and was the only clear statistical difference in what was otherwise a very even game. Milton also had more first downs, 13-10.
Milton held the advantage in the first half, as the Black Panthers ran 30 plays to just 11 for Montoursville, but went into the locker room tied 7-7.
A big play by Montoursville gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter as Maddix Dalena perfectly hit a streaking James Batkowski up the seam for a 57-yard touchdown pass, which came after Montoursville committed back-to-back false start penalties. That play was largely the extent of Montoursville’s offense in the first half, as the Warriors had just 43 other yards in addition to that touchdown reception.
The Warriors looked like they might be headed toward a two-score lead after Brayden Brown picked off Xzavier Minium and gave Montoursville the ball at Milton 34.
But Milton answered right back as Dylan Reiff made an acrobatic interception while falling out of bounds with the receiver as he picked off Dalena just two plays later to give the Black Panthers the ball at their own 14.
From there, Milton put together an impressive 16-play, 86-yard drive that was capped by Minium’s 7-yard touchdown run to tie the game. The drive, which featured 15 rushes, took up the end of the first quarter and a majority of the second quarter.
“We were having some success, we gave up that one big play (in the first half), we were able to drive in the second quarter, but you have to play four quarters to win the game,” said Davis.
The Black Panthers appeared to be on the move again on their next drive following a Montoursville punt, but the clock expired on the first half. That premature end of possession and the Warriors getting the extra one in the second half proved to be important. So did Montoursville holding onto the ball for what turned out to be all but 2:51 of the third quarter, which not only gave them points on both possessions but also kept the ball out of Milton’s hands.
‘Our defense played great all day, but give Montoursville credit. They were able to grind out some first downs when they needed it the most and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get those stops,” said Davis.
Following Montoursville’s touchdown after the recovered kickoff, the teams exchanged punts twice, but field position was lopsided as Milton’s two punts netted just 19 and 16 yards, respectively, while Dalena delivered a 53 and 57-yard punt for Montoursville, the latter of which put Milton back at its own 7-yard line with 4:46 left in the game.
On a third-and-8 from his own 23, Minium went around the left side, got outside, and dashed down the left sideline for a 77-yard touchdown to pull the Black Panthers within three, 17-14, and also finish his night with 128 rushing yards.
“They were playing us well in the passing game and I felt like where we were, they probably thought we were going to throw the ball, so I called a designed run and when your best athlete has the ball in space, a lot of good things can happen,” said Davis. “He made a great play, we blocked it well, and it went well.”
But Montoursville would pick up two first downs on its next drive to run out the clock and not allow Milton to get the ball back for one last shot. On that final, game-clinching drive, Frame ran for 23 of his 32 yards on the night, as he gained both first downs on the drive.
For Milton, it’s a disappointing end to a season that put the program back on the map after several winless and one-win seasons over the past nine years. And the Black Panthers did so despite not having a home stadium for the entire year due to construction.
“The adversity that these kids have faced being on the road all season and all that they’ve had to go through – we’re at a “home” game 40 minutes away – I can’t speak highly enough of these kids and their perseverance,” said Davis. “I’m sure they’ve learned some life lessons from this season and should be proud of what they’ve done for this program and this community. I have nothing but great praises for our kids and what they’ve accomplished this year.”
Montoursville 17, Milton 14
Montoursville (7-5) 7 0 10 0 – 17
Milton (7-5) 0 7 0 7 – 14
3:40 – (MO) James Batkowski 57-yard pass from Maddix Dalena (Fry kick), 2-49, 1:27
4:27 – (MI) Xzavier Minium 7-yard run (Witter kick), 16-86, 9:34
8:16 – (MO) Wyatt Fry 31-yard field goal, 9-48, 3:44
2:51 – (MO) Kayden Frame 8-yard run (Fry kick), 10-47, 5:25
3:54 – (MI) Xzavier Minium 77-yard run (Witter kick), 5-83, :52
First downs 10 13
Rushes-net yards 30-83 39-220
Passing yardage 100 27
Passing 7-12-1-1 5-8-0-1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-22 6-52
RUSHING — Montoursville: Dylan Blackwell (12-49), Kayden Frame (8-32-1), Maddix Dalena (4-(-12)), Isaiah Fenner (2-15), James Batkowski (2-3), Nick Reeder (1-(-3)), TEAM (1-(-1)); Milton: Xzavier Minium (16-128-2), Ashton Canelo (12-67), Chris Doyle (11-25)
PASSING — Montoursville: Maddix Dalena (7-12-100-1-1); Milton: Xzavier Minium (5-8-27-0-1)
RECEIVING — Montoursville: Isaiah Fenner (3-23), James Batkowski (2-72-1), Nick Reeder (1-3), Cole Remsnyder (1-2); Milton: Dylan Reiff (4-10), Ashton Canelo (1-17)
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