Southern Columbia Routs Bloomsburg
BLOOMSBURG, PA: Week six of high school football in the PA Heartland Conference presented a battle of unbeaten teams, with Bloomsburg (4-0, AA, HAC-III) hosting Southern Columbia (5-0, A, HAC-II). The Panthers touted a potent, albeit largely untested, offense featuring Rutgers recruit, Blake Rankin. The Tigers brought some potency of their own to Redman Stadium, in the form of what coach Goerge Curry has dubbed “The Three-Headed Monster,” running backs Tyler Levan, Matt Moore and Casey Savitski. The performance of of one or the other of these very different offensive schemes would determine the course and outcome of the game.
The Panthers had the initial possession and went straight to their bread-and-butter. Four passing plays in-a-row netted them 14 yards and an interception by Southern defensive back, Kieth Day. The turn-over resulted in a short field for the Tigers and the opening score. Levan had a 31-yard run and the one yard TD. The PAT kick bounced off the collegiate goal-post, leaving the score 6 – 0.
The Panthers got the ball back and threw their way into Tiger territory, where Rankin called his own number. He went untouched 28 yards for the score, and the PAT made it 7 – 6 in favor of Bloomsburg. It would be their only lead of the night. Southern recaptured the lead following some accurate passing by Brad Fegley, and gutsy running by Moore for 32, nine and two yards to set up the 1st-and-goal. Savitski punched it into the endzone and SoCo went for two – Fegley rolled right and hit TE Jamie Slotterback to put them up 14 – 7.
At this point Bloomsburg implemented what would be their only form of variety on the night, Rankin running the ball instead of throwing. He rushed his way to mid-field then threw strikes to Tanner Thrush of 23 yards, and John Klingerman of 18 and the touchdown. The score was knotted at 14 with 10:52 in the second quarter, and it looked like another shoot-out was on tap for the Tigers.
Looks can be deceiving though, and the next minute and 32 seconds would see Panther hopes quickly deflated… First, Fegley clipped off 26 yards to the Bloomsburg 40. Then, he threw a strike to a speeding Moore for the touchdown. After the ensuing kick return, Ranking attempted a pass to Klingerman which went through his hands and deflected off his shoulder-pads into the waiting arms of Keith Day. The result was a 1st-and-10 for the Tigers at mid-field. Moore got the call, hit the hole hard, broke tackles, broke loose and went the distance for a 50 yard TD. Before the Panthers knew what hit them, it was 28 – 14.
From there the defense began to stiffen and the rout was on. For the remainder of the half the Panthers went three-and-out or worse on every series, and lost a total of 29 yards. Sacks were registered by Kyle Zigarski, Tom Schetroma, Cameron Flore, Fegley and Moore. Southern got to the red-zone on a 36-yard pass to Jake Becker, but a fumble by Savitski gave the Panthers new life. It didn’t last long, though. On the very next play, Day timed his read, and got his third pick of the night, and a 1st-and-goal at the eight. Levan took it home from there for a 34 – 14 score. Before half-time the defense earned the Tigers very good field position and Fegley capitalized with a 20-yard toss to Day to extend the lead to 41 – 14.
Coach Roth only kept his starters in for two series of the second half. That resulted in a 7-play, 61-yard drive, and a 6-play, 72-yard drive. Moore capped the first possession with a 10-yard sweep for the score, and Savitski racked-up 58 yards and a TD on the second. In all, Moore ran only seven times, but compiled 122 yards and two rushing TD’s along with his 40-yard TD catch. Savitski and Levan each had 92 yards and 2 TD’s on 13 carries (talk about a balanced attack). The Tigers kept the ball on the ground the entire second half, so Fegley’s passing was limited to seven receptions in seven attempts for 122 yards and two scores in the first half of play.
The Panthers added one score each in the 3rd & 4th quarters on a one-yard dive by Rankin, and a nine-yard pass to Klingerman. Then they also put the reserves in for some valuable experience in the fourth. Southern’s reserves added two more scores in the final period. Adam Feudale banged-out 44 yards on two carries. Sophomore, Mitch Stanziale, rumbled for a 15-yard TD. Then sophomore, Cody Pavlick, registered an interception for SoCo’s final possession. This time, Matt Lupold (soph.) clipped-off 14 for a 1st-and-goal, and former Panther, Taylor Young completed the scoring with a three-yard keeper and the resounding 67 – 27 final tally.
BLOOMSBURG(4-1) travels to Hughesville(2-4) next Friday night to take on a faltering Spartan team. They close-out their season with Warrior Run(4-2), Danville(5-1) and Central Columbia(2-4). They cannot afford to take any of these teams lightly if they hope to make a very tight District IV AA play-off field. They will have to regroup from this loss and focus on fundamentals as their season is likely to not include any more cakewalks. Rankin was 15 of 26 passing (58%) for 145 yards and two TD’s, but with three interceptions. Ricky Klingerman added 33 yards on 2 receptions out of five attempts and another INT. They were limited to 76 total yards of rushing.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA(6-0) hosts Danville(5-1) next week. They won’t be allowed to celebrate their most recent victory for long. Sloppy and lack-luster play resulted in a loss to the Ironmen last season. Coach Roth believes that should have left a bad taste in their mouths and a hunger for revenge. The Tigers will need to refocus for the task ahead, keep executing on offense, and continue the improvements on defense if they want to stay undefeated going into the post-season. Loyalsock, Mount Carmel and Selinsgrove are still on deck, and the single A field in the eastern half of the state is daunting to say the least. Southern amassed 427 yards and eight TD’s on the ground, plus 122 yards and two TD’s through the air. Fegely was 100% accurate with his passing and had the lone run of 26 yards. Moore led the night rushing with 7 carries/122 yds./2 TD’s (17.4 yds./carry) and the 40-yard TD catch.
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