Montoursville Hangs-On; Defeats MCA 31-29
Warriors and Tornadoes give fans a heart-racing Division II Heartland Battle
As the harvest moon shone brightly above the field, Heartland Conference Division II foes Mount Carmel and Montoursville battled to the final minute of play on it. The Warriors would need one final first down on a 3rd and 4, with under a minute to play, to clinch the victory in a hard fought 31-29 win. J.C. Keefer’s Warriors are now (4-0) on the season and, at this point in the season, must be considered the early favorite in District 4 “AAA” race. Mount Carmel Area falls to (1-3), but John Darrah’s Tornadoes are unquestionably playing good football and have impressed in the past two weeks, but continually stymied themselves with penalties throughout the evening. “Montoursville is good football team,” said Darrah, “but we also beat ourselves tonight. Numerous times when we got something going we would kill ourselves with a penalty. Way too many penalties that were our own fault out there tonight.”
In total, the Red Tornadoes would commit 13 penalties for 100 yards, many on offense for procedure calls that affected momentum, at times, throughout the game. Aside from the penalties, the Red Tornadoes racked up 460 yards of offense and the game served as a coming out party for Mount Carmel Area senior running back “Night Train” Lane Tanney who would catch 8 passes for 123 yards, while also rushing for 99 yards on the ground. “Getting a win would have been better, but getting 200 yards on offense is a good achievement,” Tanney said after the game. “There is no way I could have accomplished it without the way my team played. Our linemen did great blocking and Ayres did a great job throwing and keeping people guessing with his running too.” It was the Night Train who would get the scoring going for the Big Red in the first quarter, as Tanney took it 34 yards to pay dirt. Junior kicker Rosolino Mangiapane would add the PAT and Mount Carmel would hold an early 7-0 lead.
Montoursville wasted no time answering, as within two minutes, freshman running back Logan Ott would finish a Warrior drive and take it 6 yards into the end zone. Senior kicker Ethan Lazorka would add the PAT to tie it 7-7. It would only take Mount Carmel a minute to answer, as Tanney would haul in a 52 yard pass from sophomore quarterback John Ayres and take it to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. Mangiapane would add the PAT and MCA would lead 14-7. The Warriors would answer quickly again as senior quarterback Brycen Mussina would connect with senior tight end Mitchell Rothrock for a 64 yard scoring strike. Lazorka would add his second PAT to tie the game at 14-14, where the score would stand at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter would prove as entertaining as the first with the teams continuing to trade blows back and forth in this Heartland battle. Montoursville would recover a costly fumble by Mount Carmel Area and capitalize on the short field given by the Tornado turnover. Logan Ott would take it the final 9 yards into the end zoned and, after Lazorka’s PAT, the Warriors would lead 21-14. The Tornadoes would move the ball on their next drive, with back to back catches by Tanney, but would have to eventually punt. On the next Warrior drive, Mount Carmel Area would also be gifted with a fumble recovery of their own as the Warriors would turn the ball over. This time, the Tornadoes would capitalize, as quarterback John Ayres would hit junior wingback/receiver CJ Reichard for a 26 yard pass to the 3 yard line. Ayres would take it the final 3 yards into the end zone. On the PAT, the snap took unusually long and the timing may have affected the kick, as it was missed. The Warriors would hold a slim 21-20 lead with a minute left in the half. That minute would prove useful to Montoursville as they would be able to move the ball enough for Lazorka to add a 27 yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make the score Montoursville 24, Mount Carmel 20.
The Warriors would receive the second half kick-off and wasted no time continuing the scoring pace of this game. On the second play from scrimmage, Brycen Mussina would once again connect with tight end Mitchell Rothrock on a seam route down the middle of the field. This one would hit for 74 yards and would, after Lazorka’s PAT, put the Warriors ahead 31-20, only 1 minute into the second half. Mount Carmel Area would not go away quietly and the Tornadoes, relying on the hard running of quarterback John Ayres, would respond with a touchdown. It was Ayres who would take it the final 13 yards. The two-point conversion pass, intended for MCA junior fullback Manus McCracken, would be batted down at the line of scrimmage, and Montoursville would hold a 31-26 lead. On the next drive, the Red Tornado defense would come up big; causing and recovering a second Montoursville fumble and subsequently drive into Warrior territory. Mount Carmel Area would have to settle for a field goal, as Mangiapne split the uprights from 28 yards out to cut Montoursville’s lead to 31-29, which is how the score would remain after 3 quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Warrior quarterback Brycen Mussina, who played brilliantly all night, made his only mistake of the game, throwing an interception that was picked off by the Tornadoes’ CJ Reichard. The error would not be that costly as Mount Carmel Area would go nowhere on their next possession. The Warriors would take over and were helped by a Tornado facemask penalty that brought the ball deep into MCA territory. Kicker Ethan Lazorka would attempt a 30 yard field goal, but it would not connect. Mount Carmel Area would get one final chance, as Ayres commandeered a 13 play drive to put to the Tornadoes in position to win the game. On the series, he would run for 2 first downs, while connecting with fullback Manus McCracken on another. The drive was also highlighted by a huge run by Lane Tanney down the left sideline which took the ball to the 10 yard line. Mount Carmel Area would ultimately get to the 4 yard line, but no closer, as a 3rd down pass fell incomplete. From the left hash, Mangiapane would set up for a 21 yard field goal attempt. Kicking from this difficult angle would not be forgiving, as Mangiapane’s attempt went wide left and the Warriors would hold on to their 31-29 lead.
Montoursville would have to fight for a first down on its next series to preserve the hard fought 31-29 victory. The (4-0) Warriors will travel to Jersey Shore next Friday, while the Red Tornadoes (1-3) will be hosting backyard rival North Schuylkill at the Silver Bowl for Mount Carmel Area’s homecoming game. A game that is very important to Tornadoes’ 2016 playoff hopes. “We can’t look back now. We have to keep looking forward and continue playing hard. We got to treat every game like a playoff game for the rest of the season to be successful, said a determined Lane Tanney after the game. With senior tight end Wes Shurock adding, “We basically shot ourselves in the foot tonight against Montoursville with the penalties, but we are going to fix that this week at practice. We have to. North Schuylkill is a tough team. We need to have a solid week of practice, fix our mistakes, and come ready to play next Friday night.”
MCA: 14-6-9-0 = 29
MONT: 14-10-7-0= 31
MOUNT CARMEL (1-3)
John Ayres 21-115 2 TD; Lane Tanney 12-99 TD; Zach Zarkowski 8-23; CJ Reichard 1-0; Tanner Karycki 1-(-1).
John Ayres 16-21-0, 224 yds TD
Lane Tanney 8- 123 TD; Shurock 3- 60; Manus McCracken 3-15; CJ Reichard 1-26; Shane Weidner 1-0.
Mount Carmel Area Stats complied by Jose Gonzalo
Torin Lewis 14- 49; Logan Ott 7-21 2 TDS; Tom Shea 2-7; Keegan Leahy 1-5; Brycen Mussina 1 (-3).
Brycen Mussina 11-23-1, 253 yards 2 TDS
Tom Shea 5 -78; Mitchell Rothrock 2- 138 2 TDS; Riley Conboy 2-22; Torin Lewis 2-15.
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