Mount Carmel punishes Central Columbia with 210-yard rushing effort, advances to District 4 semifinals
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – Central Columbia was having a blast of a season. Seven wins was exactly half of the Blue Jays total number of victories over the seven seasons prior to 2012. The Blue Jays also found themselves as the No. 2 seed in the District 4 AA playoffs.
Then, Mount Carmel did a different sort of blasting Friday night, knocking the Blue Jays out of playoff flight.
Behind a relentless power running game which chewed up 210 yards on 55 total carries, Mount Carmel (7-4) brought Central Columbia’s (7-4) turnaround season to a screeching halt with a 17-0 shutout victory in a District 4 AA quarterfinal game from the campus of Central Columbia High School Friday night.
With the victory, the Red Tornadoes advanced to the District 4 AA semifinals for the third consecutive season and will face the winner of the Lewisburg-Montoursville game which will be played tonight at 7 from Christy Mathewson Stadium at Bucknell University.
The Red Tornadoes’ record entering the playoffs – 6-4 – wasn’t impressive on the surface, and the program’s vaunted “Red Death” defense had four times been gouged for 32 points or more during the regular season. But Friday night, the “Red Death” found its groove and never let Central Columbia get into rhythm.
This night, Central Columbia ran only 29 offensive plays – 10 rushes, 19 passes. The Jays rushed for four net yards as a team, committed a pair of second half turnovers and finished with 115 yards of offense and only four first downs. Only one of those first downs came in the second half.
Carm DeFrancesco, Mount Carmel’s head coach, was almost in disbelief to hear the numbers.
“To do that against that offense…..,” DeFrancesco trailed off. “We said all along that if our defense got straightened out, we’d be tough.”
And Mount Carmel was also tough offensively, lining up Northwestern recruit Eric Joraskie, a two-way lineman, at tight end/fullback and making the Jays’ defense’s lives miserable with punishing blocks paving the way for Luke Klingerman all game long.
The Red Tornadoes shifted to the power I formation at the start of the second quarter and lined Joraskie up at fullback. The guests ran right at Central, and ran at them and ran at them and ran at them. It was as close to “lather, rinse, repeat” as it could get in a football game. Feature running back Luke Klingerman wound up with a game-high 142 yards rushing on 33 carries.
“We probably ran blast, blast, blast, like 20 times in the second half,” said Joraskie, who finished with 22 yards rushing on five carries and caught a 10-yard pass.
He wasn’t kidding. Joraskie even said that at one point, the Red Tornadoes called the same play eight times in a row in the goal line. Yet for the better part of the night, Central Columbia bent, but held.
“To our guys’ credit, they didn’t wear down,” said Central head coach Jason Hippenstiel. “They were still making goal line stands in the fourth quarter and that’s what I expect from a Central Columbia football team.”
But eventually, Mount Carmel broke the Jays’ defensive 11. A 9-play, 56-yard, 5:05 drive was capped with a Zach Wasilewski 1-yard run with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Mount Carmel widened the margin to 10-0 with a Rob Varano 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Both drives were the direct result of the Red Tornadoes’ north-to-south style ground game.
“That’s exactly what we talked about at halftime – running right at them,” Joraskie said.
“The kids know what’s going on out there,” DeFrancesco said. “The kids told the coaching staff, ‘We feel something, let’s run it right at them.’ And they were right. We (as a coaching staff) listen to our kids and trust our kids.”
Joraskie’s rushing attempts were his first five of the season, and it was a package No. 89 said was devised largely during the week leading up to the game.
“We started messing around with that package in practice this week,” DeFrancesco said. “And he told me, ‘Coach, in Little Leagues I played fullback. Heck, everybody plays fullback in Little Leagues.”
Wasilewski capped the game scoring with his second 1-yard run with 2:59 left in the game.
NOTES: If Lewisburg wins Saturday’s quarterfinal game, its semifinal game with Mount Carmel would be played at a neutral site. Lewisburg plays its home games at Christy Mathewson Stadium, but Bucknell University reportedly won’t be available for usage next weekend…….Central Columbia was 14-56 overall from 2005-11 and was making its first playoff appearance since 2004……..Mount Carmel has won 27 games over the last three seasons……Hippenstiel made certain to note there were more to take away from the game and his team’s legacy. “This senior group has done everything we’ve asked of them. We’re back on the map,” Hippenstiel said. “I have to give the seniors from two years ago a lot of credit, because they taught that sophomore class about hard work despite finishing 0-10.” Those sophomores were the members of the Blue Jays’ current senior class.
Mount Carmel 0 0 7 10 – 17
Central Columbia 0 0 0 0 – 0
M – Zach Wasilewski 1 run (Rob Varano kick)
M – FG, Varano 22
M – Wasilewski 1 run (Varano kick)
Rushes-yds 55-210 10-4
Passing 7-12-0 7-19-1
Passing yds 81 111
Total offense 291 115
1st downs 15 4
Penalties 4-25 4-40
Turnovers 0 2
RUSHING: MCA: Luke Klingerman 33-142; Zach Wasilewski 10-4 2 TD; Eric Joraskie 5-22; Bobby Beierschmitt 1-33; Danny Lesko 3-7; Corey Langton 2-2. CC: Dain Kowalski 3-3; Eric McCracken 4-2; Jordan Thivierge 3-minus-1.
PASSING: MCA: Wasilewski 7-12-0-81. CC: Thivierge 7-19-1-111.
RECEIVING: MCA: Rob Varano 4-50; Elijah Duran 1-17; Joraskie 1-10; Klingerman 1-0. CC: Dylan Hine 2-85; Kowalski 4-17; Adam Novak 1-9.
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