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Mount Carmel continues dominance over Hughesville, wins 46-20

Written by: on Saturday, October 8th, 2022. Follow David Mika on Twitter.


HUGHESVILLE – Not surprisingly, Mount Carmel had little trouble with Hughesville on Friday night.

The Red Tornados dominated early, and although Hughesville managed to score three fourth-quarter touchdowns after the game was already in the mercy rule, Mount Carmel had no problem improving to 7-0 with a 46-20 win over the Spartans.

And while a barrage of miscues certainly won’t overshadow another victory, which is always to be enjoyed, they will give Mount Carmel even more reason to get back to work next week – as if they needed any more reasons to stay laser-focused – as the Red Tornados prepare for next week’s backyard rivalry with Southern Columbia, which has been their nemesis for the better part of the last decade.

“We had too many self-inflicted wounds. I do think we did a good job of making plays when we needed to, but we were in too many difficult situations due to penalties or miscommunication,” said Mount Carmel coach John Darrah. “That’s something we really wanted to do better tonight, so we just need to continue to work at it, but I am glad we were able to convert some big plays when we needed them.”

The Red Tornados accumulated 10 penalties for 82 yards on the evening, and also missed a pair of PATs and a two-point conversion.

While that will give Darrah plenty to keep his team focused during practice next week, none of it adversely affected Mount Carmel on Friday, as those big plays carried the night, particularly in the first half as the Red Tornados built a lead and eventually put it into the mercy rule early in the second half.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Xaviar Diaz got loose for a 44-yard run on the third play from scrimmage, and two plays later, Luke Blessing punched it in for a two-yard touchdown.

Following a Hughesville punt on the Spartans’ first drive, Matt Balichik hit Jacob Schultz for a 39-yard gain on Mount Carmel’s first play of its next drive, which was later capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Balichik to Diaz.

That was the first of a pair of touchdown passes on the night for Balichik, who turned in another solid performance in just his second career start. He completed 9-of-14 passes for 186 yards – all in the first half.

Balichik capped the first half with a back-breaking 24-yard touchdown pass to Matt Scicchitano with :00 left on the clock to give Mount Carmel a 25-0 halftime lead. That capped a seven-play, 50-yard drive that started at midfield after Hughesville failed to convert a fourth-and-7 with 1:14 left in the half.

“Up to that point it felt like we were controlling the game but it was really still a close game at that point, so that was really important and it hurt any momentum they might have had going into halftime,” said Darrah. “Matt made a great throw and the other Matt made a great catch.

“I thought Matt (Balichik) was on the money, made some good decisions and he really didn’t throw too many bad balls. We’re still learning about him but I thought he did a really good job.”

Earlier in the second quarter, Blessing picked up his second rushing touchdown in the game on a nine-yard run, which capped a seven-play, 67-yard drive that featured a 32-yard pass completion from Balichik to Garrett Varano. That followed scoring drives of 62 and 70 yards on Mount Carmel’s first two possessions of the game.

Mount Carmel, which for the game more than doubled up Hughesville in total yardage, 522-250, had an even more decided advantage in the first half before pulling its starters for the majority of the second half. The Red Tornados outgained the Spartans 345-61 in the opening half.

“If we can control the lines, then we have a shot in most games, but the ones we’ve lost, we haven’t been able to control their defensive line with our offensive line, and that was the case tonight,” said Hughesville coach Howard Rainey.

A quick sequence early in the third quarter led to the mercy rule being invoked. After Hughesville received the second-half kick, the Spartans fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, and Maddox Reed scooped up the fumble and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown just :25 into the half.

After Mount Carmel forced Hughesville into a three-and-out on the Spartans’ subsequent possession, the Red Tornados took over at midfield and needed just four plays to find the end zone again, this time on a 17-yard run by Varano.

That score gave the Red Tornados a 39-0 lead, but then Hughesville managed to score a trio of touchdowns in the fourth quarter with the running clock.

Aiden Barlett hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from second-string quarterback Tyler Wetzel on the second play of the fourth quarter to get the Spartans on the board.

Later in the quarter, Barlett caught a pass for 63 yards to put Hughesville in the red zone, and then later punched it in from 10 yards out to make it 39-13. Though most of his damage was done in the second half, Barlett had a nice game for Hughesville, as he caught seven passes for 142 yards, added 15 rushing yards, and also had 91 kickoff returns yards, for a grand total of 248 all-purpose yards.

Following Barlett’s second touchdown, the Spartans recovered an onside kick and proceeded to score another touchdown, this one on a 39-yard run by Casey Mook.

The Spartans, who finished 1-9 a year ago, have already surpassed that total and are now 3-4 with their goals still firmly in front of them should they finish strong. Hughesville entered this week fifth in the District 4 Class AA power rankings and has a playoff spot to play for over the final three weeks of the season.

“We worked really hard over the summer this past year, we were able to get in some 7-on-7s and we saw we could beat some big teams in 7-on-7,” said Rainey. “We’ve been in a lot of games this year, and I think we can win the next three games.”

The Red Tornados’ second team also got in on the action late. After Hughesville narrowed the score to 39-20 with its third touchdown of the fourth quarter, Andrew Lukoskie hit a hole and burst loose for a 63-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to put a cap on the night.

Mount Carmel 46, Hughesville 20
Mount Carmel (7-0)     12 13 14  7  – 46
Hughesville (3-4)          0   0   0  20 – 20

First quarter
9:46 – (MC) Luke Blessing 2-yard run (pass failed), 6-62, 2:14
4:36 – (MC) Xaviar Diaz 21-yard pass from Matt Balichik (kick failed), 6-70, 2:17

Second quarter
10:52 – (MC) Luke Blessing 9-yard run (kick failed), 7-67, 2:31
:00 – (MC) Matt Scicchitano 24-yard pass from Matt Balichik (Yagodzinski kick), 7-50, 1:14

Third quarter
11:35 – (MC) Maddox Reed 38-yard fumble return (Yagodzinski kick)
9:27 – (MC) Garrett Varano 17-yard run (Yagodzinski kick), 4-51, :55

Fourth quarter
11:13 – (H) Aiden Barlett 31-yard pass from Tyler Wetzel (Smith kick), 4-61, 1:52
6:05 – (H) Aiden Barlett 10-yard run (kick failed), 4-68, 2:50
4:28 – (H) Casey Mook 39-yard run (Smith kick), 3-47, 1:37
3:21 – (MC) Andrew Lukoskie 63-yard run (Schoppy kick), 2-60, 1:07

                                         MC                          H
First downs                       22                            12
Rushes-net yards          38-314                     31-113
Passing yardage              208                          137
Passing                       10-17-2-0                  8-17-1-0
Fumbles-lost                    2-1                           3-2
Penalties-yards             10-82                         5-42

RUSHING — Mount Carmel: Xaviar Diaz (7-76), Michael Farronato (6-54), Matt Balichik (5-32), Luke Blessing (5-17-2), Jacob Zarski (5-9), Andrew Lukoskie (3-73-1), Garrett Varano (2-32-1), Ryan Weidner (2-20), Michael Kimsal (2-(-1)), Al Bailey (1-2); Hughesville: Angelo Ferrigno (10-14), Kelby Gordner (5-4), Mason Hoppes (4-17), Luke Stutzman (4-8), Aiden Barlett (3-15-1), Luke Kaiser (2-10), Casey Mook (1-39-1), Nicholas Bragalone (1-9), Tyler Wetzel (1-(-3))

PASSING — Mount Carmel: Matt Balichik (9-14-185-2-0), Gavin Marshalek (1-3-22-0-0); Hughesville: Luke Kaiser (5-11-18-0-0), Tyler Wetzel (2-5-56-1-0), Angelo Ferrigno (1-1-63-0-0)

RECEIVING — Mount Carmel: Garrett Varano (3-51), Michael Farronato (2-42), Xaviar Diaz (2-29-1), Jacob Schultz (1-39), Matt Scicchitano (1-24-1), Chase Balichik (1-22); Hughesville: Aiden Barlett (7-142-1), Justin Fowler (1-(-5))

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