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Shamokin over Central Mountain

Written by: on Saturday, September 7th, 2019. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


MILL HALL – The line between winning and losing can be very thin at times. It certainly was for Shamokin on Friday at Central Mountain. Taking on a team that it had defeated at home last year, the Indians overcame 15 penalties and three turnovers. They turned a Central Mountain turnover into a touchdown that ended up being the difference in a 12-7 win over the Wildcats.

“This game was about as close and intense as it gets and it was good old fashioned football,” said Shamokin coach Henry Hynoski. “Hats off the Central Mountain. They played an outstanding game, especially from a defensive standpoint. Our guys fought, stayed resilient, didn’t let things get to their head and I’m proud of them for keeping their composure.”

Shamokin’s defense made the biggest play of the night and turned one of the Wildcats’ two turnovers into a touchdown on a 48-yard fumble return by Brycen James late in the third quarter. That was the highlight of a strong defensive performance by the Indians, who held Central Mountain to just 184 total yards, including just 18 yards rushing on 29 carries and sacked Wildcat quarterback Zane Probst seven times. Overall, Shamokin’s defense had 11 plays go for negative yardage, not including kneel downs, all of which helped offset the Indians’ 15 penalties for 141 yards.

“Both teams were physical and played very hard. Shamokin brings a lot of pressure and we didn’t take advantage of some quick stuff that we had open,” said Central Mountain coach James Renninger. “Running the football has been an issue for us this year. We’re just not moving people and you can’t run the football if you’re getting pushed backwards. We have to get better at that.”

The Wildcats didn’t make it easy for Shamokin, as they held the Indians to just 67 rushing yards while recorded three sacks of their own. But Nate Grimes threw for 235 yards on 12-of-23 passing to make up for it. The Shamokin defense did the rest.

“I thought defensively our kids played fantastic football. They flew around against a big, physical football team.  I thought we outplayed them physically, especially defensively. That’s the first time I’d say that in a long time,” said Renninger. “But we can’t turn the ball over. It just didn’t come up our way.”

It didn’t look like points and yards were going to be so tough to come by early as Central Mountain scored what turned out to be its only points of the game on just the second play of the game from scrimmage. After receiving the opening kickoff, Probst hit Rocco Stark for a 73-yard touchdown pass on a crossing pattern, and Stark took care of the rest as he separated from a pair of Shamokin defenders to give Central Mountain the 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game. However, the Wildcats would only manage another 93 offensive yards for the remainder of the game.

“We thought we could take advantage of some things with our speed,” said Renninger. “We felt we were a little faster than them with our skill guys.  I think we still had opportunities, but we had some protection breakdowns, and missed a few open guys. But it’s all part of the process and we just have to keep getting better.”

From that point, both teams took turns stalling drives at or around midfield. Both team had trouble finding space to work with, especially in the running games but at times through the air as well.

“They were just firing linebackers and played hard coming to the ball,” said Hynoski of Central Mountain’s defense. “It was just a hard-fought game in the trenches. When we did get things moving, some penalties pushed us back and we just couldn’t get into a groove offensively. The important thing was we came away with the win.”

Shamokin was able to break through late in the second quarter. After taking possession at their own 21 with 2:35 left in the half, Nate Grimes hit Joe Masser for a nine-yard pickup and then Matt Schiccatano for a 16-yard gain. After an incompletion, Masser hauled in another reception for ten yards and another first down into Central Mountain territory. On the next play, Grimes found Schiccatano again, this time streaking down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown pass. After a Central Mountain offside penalty on the PAT, Shamokin elected to go for two but the try failed, keeping the Wildcats on top 7-6.

The third quarter was more of the same, with neither team being able to do much offensively for much of the quarter, before the biggest defensive play of the night made the difference late in the period. On a third-and-four play from the Shamokin 42, Probst dropped back, was chased out of the pocket again and sacked at the Central Mountain 48. The ball popped loose. Brycen James scooped it up and ran it back for a touchdown to put the Indians up 12-7 after the two-point conversion failed again.

“We knew we had to get pressure (on Probst) since he is a tremendous athlete so we had to flush him out of the pocket and get him off kilter a bit,” said Hynoski.

On Central Mountain’s ensuing drive, the Wildcats drove all the way down to the Shamokin three but were stopped just shy of the first down on a fourth-and-one.

Shamokin responded with a long and clock-killing drive on its ensuing possession. They had a touchdown called back due to an illegal motion penalty before the drive ended with Grimes being picked off in the end zone by Kaden Falls. The drive featured a key 29-yard reception by Masser to get the Indians out of the shadow of their own end zone, and Grimes also hit Schiccatano for a 23-yard pickup to further keep the chains moving and the clock ticking.

The Wildcats had one more chance beginning from their own 13 with 4:52 remaining. Thanks to a pair of penalties on Shamokin and a 27-yard reception by Conner Soo on a third-and-12, the Wildcats were able to move the ball into Shamokin territory just beyond midfield. But a holding penalty on first down from the Shamokin 43 moved them back onto their own side of the field. Probst was sacked on second down for an eight-yard loss before throwing incompletions on third and fourth down.

Shamokin 12, Central Mountain 7
Shamokin (2-1)                   0   6   6   0 – 12
Central Mountain (0-3)        7   0   0   0 –  7

First quarter
11:02 – (CM) Rocco Stark 73-yard pass from Zane Probst (Trey Gentzel kick), 2-75, :58

Second quarter
1:32 – (S) Matt Schiccatano 44-yard pass from Nate Grimes (run failed), 5-79, 1:03

Third quarter
1:07 – (SH) Brycen James 48-yard fumble return (pass failed)

S                       CM
First downs                                12                       9
Rushes-net yards                    28-67                 29-18
Passing yardage                       234                   166
Passing                                13-27-1-3          12-25-1-0
Fumbles-lost                             2-0                     4-2
Penalties-yards                      15-141                 5-67

RUSHING: Shamokin: Max Madden (13-47), Brycen James (7-23), Nate Grimes (3-(-7)), TEAM (2-(-2)), Dennis Cole (1-6), Brett Nye (1-0), Tate Frederick (1-0); Central Mountain: Zane Probst (15-11), Ryan Pentz (10-(-1)), TEAM (2-(-2)), Peyton Johnson (1-6), Micah Walizer (1-4)
PASSING: Shamokin: Nate Grimes (12-23-235-1-2), Brett Nye (1-4-(-1)-0-1; Central Mountain: Zane Probst (12-25-166-1-0)
RECEIVING: Shamokin: Matt Schiccatano (7-150-1), Joe Masser (5-85), Max Madden (1-(-1)); Central Mountain: Rocco Stark (7-106-1), Nick Long (3-28), Conner Soo (1-27), Peyton Johnson (1-9)

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