Montoursville claims 2nd straight district title with win over Loyalsock
MONTOURSVILLE – Montoursville’s plan heading into Friday’s District 4 Class 3A championship game against neighborhood rival Loyalsock was to jump out to an early lead and then hand the game to their strong running game and defense.
The game went exactly as planned and the Warriors came away with a 42-14 win over the Lancers to claim their second straight District 4 Class 3A title, and their fourth district title in the last six years. But following the game, while there were plenty of smiles and happiness after the Warriors had received their medals, it felt as though it was just business as usual for the now 12-1 Warriors.
“Did you notice a little difference?,” said Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer. “We’re not dumping water on coaches and we’re not having parties tonight. This is where we expected to be and I think that’s the difference this time around.
“The first three district championships we won with me as the head coach, we put all our chips on the table for the district championship and we didn’t come out and play well in the state playoffs. This time around, we have a little different attitude, it’s a different tone here and we want to come out and show the rest of the state that we can compete.”
The win, Montoursville’s second of the year over Lancers after also topping Loyalsock back in Week 5, advances Montoursville to the state quarterfinals for the third straight year, where they will face Wyoming Area, a winner of Scranton Prep in the District 2 Class 3A final on Friday.
“I think it will be a very good matchup. It’s two teams that are very similar and even and it should be a heck of a game,” said Keefer.
The Warriors will head into the game next week against Wyoming (also named the Warriors) playing perhaps their best football of the season. Quarterback Hunter Shearer completed 15-of-19 passes for 25 yards and four touchdowns to three different receivers. A week after having a pair of 100-yard rushers in the semifinal win over Warrior Run, Montoursville had a pair of 100-yard receivers as both Dillon Young and Jaxon Dalena combined to haul in 14 passes, with Young’s totaling 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Dalena finishing with 122 yards and a score.
“They’re a great team so a tremendous amount of credit goes to them,” said Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet. “There are times when you just have to tip your hat to another team and this is one of those. I’m tremendously proud of my guys who fought to the very end and did it the right way. We had a great season but unfortunately there’s only one team in each classification that leaves the field for the last time with smiles. We’re looking forward to the next chapter but we’re very proud of this one.”
Most of those numbers were in the first half as Montoursville threw the ball only six times after halftime after jumping out to a 35-7 lead at the half. The Warriors did so by scoring touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, taking advantage of an early Loyalsock turnover.
“That was the game plan – get up on them early, force them to have to throw the ball and allow us in the second half to grind it out and let our defense go to work – and it worked out pretty well,” said Keefer.
That early turnover came on just the second official play from scrimmage for the Lancers after they received the opening kickoff. Logan Ott intercepted Chase Cavanaugh at the Lancer 20, and just two plays later, Montoursville took a 7-0 lead on Ott’s first of two rushing touchdowns on the evening, this one from nine yards.
Shearer found Young for a nine-yard touchdown pass on the Warriors’ next drive to make it 14-0. Two possessions later and early in the second quarter, the Warriors took over at their own 29 and needed just two plays to make it 21-0 as Shearer found Jaxon Dalena for a 27-yard touchdown pass in which Dalena beat his shorter defender on a jump ball in the end zone.
It was nearly 28-0 when Shearer and Dalena appeared to connect again, this time for an 87-yard touchdown, but a Montoursville holding penalty called it back, and one play later, the snap went over Shearer’s head and into the end zone, where it was recovered by Loyalsock’s Aiden Gair to make it 21-7, a 14-point swing.
Montoursville made sure that swing didn’t give Loyalsock any momentum, however, as the Warriors took the ensuing kickoff and went 66 yards in seven plays, capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Shearer to Cameron Wood in which Wood hauled in the touchdown pass with no one within 20 yards on him.
The Warriors then took advantage of the Ott’s second interception of the night, which set them up in Loyalsock territory at the Lancer 27, and made it 35-7 just before halftime on the second touchdown connection of the night between Shearer and Young.
Montoursville went into clock management mode at that point, as the Warriors burned over seven minutes off the clock on their first second half possession despite not even scoring on that drive. After a three-and-out by Loyalsock, Montoursville put it into the mercy rule on their next drive as Ott found the end zone for the second time to make it 42-7.
Loyalsock added a late score on a nine-yard run by Cavanaugh with under a minute to play. That drive was the first all night in which the Lancers had any room to maneuver as the stout Warrior defense held Loyalsock to only 137 total yards, 54 of which came on that final drive with Montoursville already holding a 35-point lead.
“We were able to cover their guys and up front, I think we were just a little better than them and that allowed us to run the ball and get after their quarterback when he wanted to throw it,” said Keefer.
Montoursville 42, Loyalsock 14
Loyalsock (9-4) 0 7 0 7 – 14
Montoursville (12-1) 14 21 0 7 – 42
10:22 – (M) Logan Ott 9-yard run (Plankenhorn kick), 2-30, :32
6:19 – (M) Dillon Young 9-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Gorini kick), 3-16, 1:30
7:38 – (M) Jaxon Dalena 37-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Plankenhorn kick), 2-71, :16
4:37 – (L) Aiden Gair fumble recovery in end zone (Dowell kick)
1:51 – (M) Cameron Wood 29-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Plankenhorn kick), 7-66, 2:46
:15 – (M) Dillon Young 14-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Plankenhorn kick), 6-37, :43
11:55 – (M) Logan Ott 2-yard run (Gorini kick), 5-45, 3:07
:56 – (L) Chase Cavanaugh 9-yard run (Dowell kick), 7-54, 4:32
First downs 9 18
Rushes-net yards 23-65 29-123
Passing yardage 72 267
Passing 10-14-0-2 16-21-4-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 6-45 12-107
RUSHING: Loyalsock: Davion Hill (13-48), Chase Cavanaugh (7-7-1), Korie Mayer (2-4), Aiden Gair (1-6); Montoursville: Rocco Pulizzi (13-66), Logan Ott (9-37-2), James Batkowski (3-21), TEAM (2-(-7)), Hunter Shearer (1-6), Cologero Signor (1-0)
PASSING: Loyalsock: Chase Cavanaugh (10-13-72-0-1), Rees Watkins (0-1-0-0-1); Montoursville: Hunter Shearer (15-19-250-4-0), Maddix Dalena (1-2-17-0-0)
RECEIVING: Loyalsock: Rees Watkins (3-17), Nick Vandevere (2-23), Aiden Gair (1-13), Eli Gair (1-11), Nolin Damiano (1-7), Joeb Schurer (1-6), Davion Hill (1-(-5)); Montoursville: Dillon Young (8-106-2), Jaxon Dalena (6-122-1), Cameron Wood (1-29-1), Logan Ott (1-0)
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