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Bloomsburg beats Mount Carmel 27-6

Written by: on Sunday, September 27th, 2020. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


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BLOOMSBURG – Just a little under 11 short months ago, an injury-depleted Bloomsburg football team was forced to forfeit its first round District playoff game against Mount Carmel. It was a disappointing end to a roller coaster of a season that featured a coaching change midway through the season.

But how the times have changed. On Saturday night, a Bloomsburg team with a much larger roster – at least relative to what they had at the end of last year – dominated a Mount Carmel team that itself had dominated one of the state’s best Class A teams just four days earlier, and the Panthers rode the dominant performance to a 27-6 win over the Red Tornadoes, marking the first win for the Panthers over Mount Carmel since 1961, and only the second ever.

“We challenged our kids to be physical. I know what Coach Darrah is about and what the Mount Carmel kids are all about. They’re big and physical and will take it right to you so for us to do what we did especially defensively is really phenomenal,” said Bloomsburg coach Mike Kogut. “The amount of physicality and big hits that we had were really impressive.

“This win speaks to the resiliency of our kids. We have 42 kids on this team and every one of them are totally dedicated to changing our culture and they’re certainly done that. We said this is a game that could define us for years to come and I hope it does and hopefully we can use this momentum.”

The loss for Mount Carmel also marks the first loss for the Red Tornadoes to a team other than Southern Columbia or North Schuylkill in nearly three years. Their last loss to a different team than those two was to to Selinsgrove in Week 9 of the 2017 season.

“I don’t think we executed very well. It’s been difficult with the amount of practices we’ve been able to have,” said Mount Carmel coach John Darrah. “We’ll go back and see the film and we’ve got to fix that but this week at least we get to have some practice and we’ll take the opportunity to fix those things.

“They definitely crowded the line of scrimmage. We had a difficult task (coming back after playing on Tuesday) and we accepted it but we came up short. We played hard the entire game but just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”

Mount Carmel was held to just 40 rushing yards on 30 carries on the evening, and the Red Tornadoes were unable to make up for it through the air either, as they managed just 88 passing yards. This was just four days after racking up 334 rushing yards in their season opener against Williams Valley.

“We figured we had to get in the box since they’re big and physical and force them to pass and we did just that,” said Kogut. “Every time they threw punches at us, especially defensively, we threw punches back. We pursued relentlessly to the ball and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.

“Their pursuit tonight with getting into the backfield from really the opening kickoff was tremendous with the way our line got penetration. That was a big focus for us to try to get penetration and our pursuit angle with a lot of the sweeps that they run, so we worked on that really hard in practice and we just pursued relentlessly to the ball.”

It was just a 7-6 lead for Bloomsburg at halftime, but a sequence that began the second half shifted the momentum at the beginning of the second half to the Panthers, and they never gave it back for the rest of the game. Mount Carmel’s Michael Farranto returned the opening kickoff of the second half 73 yards all the way to the Bloomsburg 15. But Mount Carmel lost yardage on two of their first three plays from scrimmage, and then quarterback Julien Stellar was stopped just three yards short of a first down on a fourth-down scramble.

Then, on Bloomsburg’s first play from their own 8-yard line after taking over, Luke Potora busted loose and took it all the way for a 92-yard touchdown run to put Bloomsburg up 13-6.

“What a big stop,” said Kogut. “That was definitely momentum changing. We stopped them and then Potora had a really big play and we had some great edge blocking and he made a great cutback. That certainly turned the momentum for us and we sustained it for the rest of the game.”

Though by no means out of it with it being just a one-possession game, the Red Tornadoes committed turnovers on their next two possessions, losing a fumble and then throwing an interception. While their defense held and forced Bloomsburg to turn it over on downs after the fumble, they were unable to do the same following the interception, as Bloomsburg took the ball at the Mount Carmel 41 and in just five plays, made it a 20-6 game on Jack Howell’s 22-yard touchdown run, which followed a 14-yard completion by Howell to Brody Hock on a 4th-and-5 to sustain the drive.

Bloomsburg essentially put the game away about midway through the fourth quarter when, after stopping Mount Carmel deep in their own territory on fourth down, Nasir Heard ran it on back-to-back plays for a 22-yard gain and then a two-yard touchdown to put Bloomsburg up 27-6 with 6:40 left in the game.

The Red Tornadoes were just unable to get anything going on offense except for its one touchdown drive late in the first half as Bloomsburg stacked the box and didn’t allow for many cutbacks or open space by Mount Carmel ball carriers. Mount Carmel’s second half possessions consisted of turning the ball over on downs four times, a pair of turnovers and a punt.

It didn’t look like it would be as lopsided in the first half as the team’s battled through a scoreless first quarter, with each team punting three times and Mount Carmel holding the edge in field position.

But with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter, Bloomsburg took the ball at its own 20 and put together a 17-play drive spanning 8:26. The drive ended with the Panthers turning it over on downs at the Mount Carmel 18, but it flipped field position. After a pair of penalties on the Red Tornadoes’ ensuing drive, they were forced to punt from their own 12, and Jake Fogelsanger returned the punt 31 yards to the original line of scrimmage. One play later after a penalty, Howell found Devon Yocum open in the middle of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown to put the Panthers up 7-0.

Mount Carmel answered right back as it put together a short four-play drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown run by Dowkus, and also featured a 26-yard reception by Michael Balichik. But the 64 yards gained on the drive were 51 more than the Red Tornadoes gained the rest of the game, as the remainder of Mount Carmel’s drives gained a grand total of just 13 yards.

Bloomsburg 27, Mount Carmel 6
Mount Carmel (1-1)     0   6   0   0 –  6
Bloomsburg (2-1)        0   7  13  7 – 27

Second quarter
2:43 – (B) Devon Yocum 17-yard pass from Jack Howell (Doerschler kick), 1-12, :08
1:21 – (MC) Damon Dowkus 22-yard run (kick failed), 4-64, 1:22

Third quarter
9:30 – (B) Luke Potora 92-yard run (run failed), 1-92, :15
4:33 – (B) Jack Howell 22-yard run (Doerschler kick), 5-41, 1:29

Fourth quarter
6:40 – (B) Nasir Heard 2-yard run (Brockman kick), 2-19, :16

                                                    MC                       B        
First downs                                    6                         12
Rushes-net yards                       30-40                   25-155
Passing yardage                           88                       124
Passing                                     6-17-0-2             17-31-1-1
Fumbles-lost                                 2-1                      4-1
Penalties-yards                            4-35                    4-20

RUSHING: Mount Carmel: Damon Dowkus (13-47-1), Julien Stellar (8-(-13)), Reed Witkoski (2-3), Tyler Owens (7-3); Bloomsburg: Jack Howell (9-20-1), Luke Potora (8-109-1), Nasir Heard (4-29-1), Brody Hock (3-(-2)), Nasir Kelly (1-(-1))
PASSING: Mount Carmel: Julien Stellar (6-17-88-0-2); Bloomsburg: Jack Howell (17-31-124-1-1)
RECEIVING: Mount Carmel: Michael Balichik (3-63), Tyler Owens (1-21), Reed Witkoski (1-2), Damon Dowkus (1-2); Bloomsburg: Brody Hock (4-42), Daniel Guzevich (4-24), Damon Rasmussen (3-22), Devon Yocum (2-28-1), Jake Fogelsanger (2-3), Madden Locke (1-5), Luke Potora (1-0)

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