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Canton shuts out Muncy

Written by: on Sunday, October 18th, 2020. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.

 

CANTON – In the bizarre world that is 2020, Canton held both its home opener and regular-season home finale simultaneously on Saturday night.

Because the Warriors were forced to shut down for about a month due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the school district, Saturday’s game was just Canton’s third game of the season, in Week 6, and what would ordinarily have been Week 8.

But if the Warriors play like they did on Saturday, it won’t matter how many games they actually get in during the regular season. Canton battled through a scoreless first half but took control of the contest both offensively and defensively in the second half as the Warriors scored three second-half touchdowns to top Muncy 19-0.

The game was a rematch of the last two District 4 Class A championship games, both won by Muncy on Canton’s home field.

“Troy is our rival but Muncy has also become a rival for the last two years. We’ve been at each other and we both have good teams with lots of athletes and it’s back and forth each time,” said Canton coach Tyler Sechrist.

With the win, although they are just 3-0 with one more regular-season game to go on Friday at Northwest, it is now likely that the Warriors will again host Muncy in two weeks in the district championship game for the third straight season, although with it being 2020, nothing can be for certain until it actually happens. But, if this bizarre season is what it takes to get Canton that elusive district title, Sechrist will take it.

“This year has been so strange, opening up against Troy right off the bat, then having a month off, then coming back against Athens, who was undefeated,” said Sechrist. “But this will all prepare us for down the road. We’re hoping to stay laser-focused the next few weeks. They say that things that take so long to get, it feels a lot better when you actually get it, so we’re hoping this is the year.”

But assuming Muncy does return to Canton in two weeks, the Warriors will likely face an even tougher Muncy squad, which played without nine players on Saturday, including starting quarterback Branson Eyer, due to COVID-19 contact tracing. In his cousin’s absence, Ross Eyer moved from receiver to quarterback, and the Indians were also forced to start three freshmen on defense.

“Ross had never played quarterback before this week so we knew there were going to be some growing pains, but he did a good job controlling our offense and we needed to capitalize when we had opportunities,” said Muncy coach Sean Tetreault. “We’ll be happy to get all of these guys back this next week, but our guys came out and played hard. They could have used all the excuses in the world, but they never gave up and that was great to see.

“Muncy-Canton is always a physical contest upfront and we made a couple of key mistakes tonight and Canton played a great game.”

Although the Indians were missing some key players, Canton’s defense stepped up big, holding Muncy to just 123 total yards, including only 29 in the entire second half. The furthest the Indians reached on the field was the Canton 29-yard line, which came twice in the first half. On both occasions, Canton stopped Muncy on fourth down plays. Muncy ran just six plays in Canton territory in the second half, and Indians picked up just one first down in the second half, and Canton sacked Eyer three times,

Canton was equally challenged offensively in the first half, as the Warriors managed just 53 first-half yards. Canton punted on all four of its first-half possessions, while Muncy punted twice before being stopped on downs twice. The second of those stops came on a fourth-and-1 from the Canton 29 with 2:39 left in the half, and Muncy wouldn’t get that far on the field again.

“Our defense has carried our team the last few years,” said Sechrist. “We played tough and disciplined and tackled well. But Muncy is going to come back with more firepower and they’ll have their quarterback back.”

The Warriors elected to start pounding the ball on the ground in the second half. After running the ball 12 times and throwing eight passes in the first half, Canton went almost exclusively to the run after halftime, and it paid off, as Hayden Ward ran for 128 of his 137 yards and Riley Parker picked up 91 of his 116 yards in the second half.

The difference was evident on Canton’s first drive of the second half. Starting at their own 43, the Warriors went 57 yards in six plays, and Parker scored the first points of the game on a six-yard touchdown run. He had three rushes on the drive, while Ward had two, and the other was a 19-yard reception by Ben Knapp, the only completed pass of the second half. It was also one of just two catches for the standout tight end, who the defense keyed on once again.

“We took a couple shots (passing), but it’s tough because everyone tries to take Knapp away,” said Sechrist. “A couple of times he was double and triple covered, so we just decided we had to run the ball, so we adjusted to their defense and where they were, and used our two good backs.”

With Canton controlling the game on the ground, it was Knapp’s blocking rather than his catching ability that helped make a difference in the second half. After Muncy picked up its only first down of the second half on its next drive, Canton stopped the Indians on a fourth-and-2 from the Canton 46.

The Warriors then had a promising drive stopped when Cooper Kitchen’s pass intended for Knapp in the end zone was picked off, resulting in a touchback. But Muncy was unable to do anything with the turnover, and Canton took back over at its own 31 after a Muncy punt and Canton penalty on the punt return.

From there, the Warriors put together a nine-play, 69-yard drive featuring rushes on all nine plays, capped by a Weston Bellows one-yard touchdown run to make it 12-0 with 10:07 remaining in the game. Although all nine official plays were rushes, Canton did benefit from a pass interference penalty on a third-and-10 play, which kept the drive alive.

Later in the fourth quarter, Canton put the game away when Parker went into the end zone nearly untouched for his second score of the game, this one from 23 yards with 3:35 remaining.

Canton 19, Muncy 0
Muncy (5-1)        0  0  0   0 –  0
Canton (3-0)       0  0  6 13 – 19

Third quarter
9:53 – (C) – Riley Parker 6-yard run (kick blocked), 6-57, 2:07

Fourth quarter
10:07 – (C) – Weston Bellows 1-yard run (pass failed), 9-69, 4:10
3:35 – (C) – Riley Parker 23-yard run (Jannone kick), 2-41, :34

Statistics
                                                      M                            C       
First downs                                    7                            19
Rushes-net yards                       40-90                     40-290
Passing yardage                          33                            22
Passing                                     3-8-0-1                   4-12-0-1
Fumbles-lost                                3-0                           2-0
Penalties-yards                           5-45                         7-60

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING: Muncy: Ty Nixon (13-45), Ethan Gush (11-36), Ross Eyer (8-(-4)), Eli Weikle (6-12), Paul Pepper (2-1); Canton: Riley Parker (19-116-2), Hayden Ward (14-137), Weston Bellows (4-8-1), Cooper Kitchen (3-29)
PASSING: Muncy: Ross Eyer (3-8-33-0-1); Canton: Cooper Kitchen (4-12-22-0-1)
RECEIVING: Muncy: Ty Nixon (1-16), Eli Weikle (1-9), Gage Wertz (1-8); Canton: Benjamin Knapp (2-24), Weston Bellows (2-(-2))

 

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