Montoursville defeats Athens 50-8
MONTOURSVILLE – Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer had some concerns heading into Saturday night’s District 4 Class 3A quarterfinal game against Athens. Playing on a Saturday for the first time all season, he had some concerns about how the extra day of waiting around to play might affect his team.
Those concerns were put to bed very quickly, as Montoursville scored touchdowns on its first five possessions of the game and never gave the visiting Wildcats a chance as the Warriors advanced to next Saturday’s semifinals with a convincing 50-8 win over Athens. Montoursville advances to play Lewisburg at home next Saturday, after he the sixth-seeded Green Dragons upset the third seed Central Columbia 7-6, while Athens finishes its season at 4-7.
“I was a bit afraid of being flat playing on a Saturday, which is different from what we had all year so there were some variables and while we were probably favored coming into the game, these are high school kids and anything can happen so I was very pleased with our start and the way we came out with some physicality and intensity and put some points up right away and that’s exactly what we were looking to do,” said Keefer.
Montoursville quarterback Hunter Shearer threw for 181 yards on just seven completions, four of which were for touchdowns, as Montoursville outgained Athens 365-111 and took full advantage of an injury-depleted Athens team, which got even thinner in the first quarter as starting receiver Aric Westbrook and running back/kick returner Nick Watkins both left the game and did not return after sustaining first quarter injuries.
“We came in beat up and it got ugly real fast, but I was proud of them, they came in and battled and played physical,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “Coach Keefer (Montoursville coach) has a good thing rolling here and has a bunch of good young kids and they were just too deep for us to complete but I’m super proud of my kids.”
Montoursville needed just 12 plays to score their first four touchdowns, which all came in the first quarter. A 47-yard return on the opening kickoff by Rocco Pulizzi set up Montoursville at the Athens 38, and just two plays later, Jacob Reeder broke loose for a 39-yard run to put the Warriors up 7-0 less than a minutes into the game.
Athens went three-and-out and punted on its first two possessions, and Montoursville turned both ensuing possessions into touchdowns. Shearer found a wide open Jaxon Dalena for a 32-yard touchdown reception to cap a three-play drive, and then Cole Ranck for a 5-yarder that capped a four-play drive to make it 21-0 with 4:03 left in the quarter.
“We had a different guy in on the first one who hasn’t had a lot of reps and they scored on that same play against Towanda so we knew that motion and there’s two things they do off of it, one of which is send the receiver deep down the post but it was a backup guy who didn’t have the reps so our goal is to get him better so that he can make those plays in the future,” said Young.
“We’ve done that all year,” said Keefer, referring to the play that resulted in the Dalena touchdown reception. “We’re doing some jet sweeps to really force the secondary to have to come up and make tackles so it enables us to then sneak by them and get out athletes out in space and make plays. We have some good kids that can do that. They were anticipating us tossing the ball out here and that corner and safety have to make a play on that and when you have a kid as big as Jaxon Dalena running down the field he’s a pretty easy target and hard to miss.”
The Wildcats then scored their only touchdown of the game as they put together a nice drive that feature a couple of big plays. Damien Hudson, who led Athens with 83 yards on 20 carries, busted loose for an 18-yard gain. Two plays later, Kaden Rude found his brother Keegan Rude for a 20-yard gain, and then two plays after that, the Rudes connected again as Keegan pulled down a 24-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown over the outstretched arms of the Montoursville defensive back. Kaden then ran in a two-point conversion to make it a 21-8 with under two minutes to play in the first. Athens picked up 72 yards on that drive, more than half of their total of just 111 yards for the game as Montoursville defense forced the Wildcats to punt on eight of 11 possessions.
Montousville answered right back after Athens’ score as Shearer hit Dalena again for another touchdown, this one from 36 yards, just over a minute later. The Warriors tacked on another touchdown early in the second after another Athens punt as Reeder added his second rushing score. The Warriors then put the game into mercy rule territory just before halftime as they took possession near midfield on the only Athens turnover of the night and three plays later, Shearer found Wyatt Nettling for a 40-yard touchdown pass and then Montoursville got a two-point conversion after a muffed snap on the PAT.
Athens was unable to get anything going in the second half either with the running clock, as it punted on its first four possessions of the second half and then ran out the clock on its final one.
Montoursville 50, Athens 8
Athens (4-7) 8 0 0 0 – 8
Montoursville (9-2) 28 15 7 0 – 50
11:02 – (M) Jacob Reeder 39-yard run (Colin Gorini kick), 2-38, :58
7:42 – (M) Jaxon Dalena 32-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Gorini kick), 3-56, 1:02
4:03 – (M) Cole Ranck 5-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Gorini kick), 4-48, 1:45
2:22 – (A) Keegan Rude 24-yard pass from Kaden Rude (Kaden Rude run), 5-72, 1:41
1:18 – (M) Jaxon Dalena 36-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Gorini kick), 3-54, 1:04
8:22 – (M) Jacob Reeder 12-yard run (Gorini kick), 5-44, 2:00
:05 – (M) Wyatt Nettling 40-yard pass from Hunter Shearer (Cameron Wood pass from Gorini), 3-53, :21
6:39 – (M) Wyatt DeWald 15-yard run (Gorini kick), 4-32, 2:16
First downs 9 15
Rushes-net yards 38-50 26-184
Passing yardage 61 181
Passing 5-11-1-1 7-11-4-1
Fumbles-lost 2-0 4-1
Penalties-yards 1-16 4-30
RUSHING: Athens: Damien Hudson (20-83), Kaden Rude (12-(-28)), Jared Peterson (4-(-3)), Nick Watkins (2-(-2)); Montoursville: Wyatt DeWald (10-72-1), Jacob Reeder (5-68-2), Rocco Pulizzi (4-16), Cole Ranck (2-22), Hunter Shearer (1-11), Cologero Signor (1-7), Zach Barnes (1-2), Dylan Blackwell (1-(-2)), Jeremiah Caseman (1-(-2))
PASSING: Athens: Kaden Rude (5-11-61-1-1); Montoursville: Hunter Shearer (7-11-181-4-1)
RECEIVING: Athens: Keegan Rude (4-57-1), Tanner Dildine (1-4); Montoursville: Jaxon Dalena (3-81-2), Cole Ranck (2-22-1), Wyatt Nettling (1-40-1), Rocco Pulizzi (1-38)
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