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Southern Columbia over South Williamsport

Written by: on Saturday, September 29th, 2018. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – Over the last eight years, it would come as no surprise to anyone that follows District 4 football or even Pennsylvania high school football at large that Southern Columbia has the most wins of any program in the district, which includes a pair of state titles.

Likely not as many people would know that the program with the second-most wins in District 4 in this span is South Williamsport, which has built a program that annually contends for district titles, for which the prospects appear a bit better now that the Mounties are Class 1A and not 2A with Southern.

South is likely quite glad it has moved down to 1A, because the gap between the two programs with the most District 4 wins this decade is still apparently quite large, as Southern scored 54 unanswered points after South had taken an early 6-0 lead en route to a 54-20 win over the Mounties. The win is Southern’s 67th straight in the regular season, as the Tigers have not lost in the regular season since 2001.

“We’re the only 1A school that Southern plays this year and you can see tonight why the PIAA has different classifications, but we’re certainly proud of our program and who we are,” said South coach Chris Eiswerth. “On the positive end, we got a lot of guys in and played a lot of ball. We’ve now got a lot of film to watch and evaluate and everything is still in front of us. I told the kids after the game that everything after tonight is going to be much slower.”

South’s game plan was to attack Southern through the air and take advantage of one-on-one matchups, as the Mounties threw the ball an uncharacteristic 24 times, the same number of times the usual run-heavy team ran the ball on the evening. That worked to near perfection on South’s third play from scrimmage after receiving the opening kickoff. After two incompletions, A.J. Flick looked off most of the Southern defense to one side of the field and then found Chris Klem on a screen on the other side, who went 70 yards nearly untouched to give South a 6-0 lead after a missed PAT.

“They executed the screen very well. We prepared for it but had a breakdown defensively but our guys picked it up right away both offensively and defensively and played aggressively,” said Southern coach Jim Roth.

That would the highlight of the game for the Mounties, however, as they got just three more first downs until the last play of the third quarter, by which time Southern had taken a 54-6 lead.

Following Klem’s touchdown, Southern scored on its first six possessions – all in the first half. Four came on touchdowns by Gaige Garcia, who also added a 46-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to put the game into the mercy rule. Garcia finished with five touchdowns on the evening, four rushing and one receiving, and 109 rushing yards on 14 carries while also catching a pair of balls for 22 yards and the touchdown.

On Southern’s ensuing drive after Klem’s score, Garcia caught a pass for 16 yards, followed by a Julian Fleming reception for 30, then a Garcia five-yard touchdown run and PAT to put Southern up 7-6.

After a three-and-out by South, Preston Zachman and Fleming connected for a 58-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage, which set up an eight-yard score for Garcia three plays later. Garcia later added another touchdown run of 10 yards and a touchdown reception of six yards.

“I was happy with the offense. Preston filling in at quarterback had another solid performance,” said Roth of his second turned first-string signal caller, who completed 7-of-9 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

Southern’s other two scores on that six-possession streak of touchdowns in the first half came on a touchdown run by Gaige’s younger brother, Gavin, as he went outside around the corner and then cut back inside for a 30-yard touchdown run, and on a 15-yard reception by Fleming, who used his athleticism to haul in a pass in the corner of the end zone despite tight one-on-one coverage by the South defensive back. Fleming finished with five catches for 134 yards, and also played quarterback for a couple of series late in the first half.

With Southern leading 34-6, Fleming entered at quarterback and led the Tigers to their sixth straight touchdown in as many possessions, as he guided a seven-play, 33-yard drive capped by Garcia’s third rushing touchdown of the night. Fleming gained 13 yards on a quarterback keeper on a 4th-and-7 play to keep the drive going.

“We put him in to get him some reps because we’re working him as a backup right now with Hollenbach out,” said Roth. “He’s an athlete, a little inexperienced at that position and hasn’t had a lot of reps there yet but he can throw the ball and obviously run around so he’s there for an emergency but we’re hoping to get Hollenbach back maybe a little earlier than his original time frame.”

Gavin Garcia added his second touchdown run of the night late in the third quarter to cap the scoring for the Tigers as he found the end zone from 15 yards out this time. South added a pair of fourth quarter scores as Gannon Guerrisky scored on a seven-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Luke Winner added a two-yard run late in the fourth and also caught a two-point conversion. Guerrisky went over 100 yards later, finishing with 111 on 14 carries after having just 22 yards in the first half.

“Hats off to the kids, I thought they played valiantly and hard and for us to come back and put 20 on the board, I’m proud of them,” said Eiswerth.

Southern Columbia 54, South Williamsport 20
Southern Columbia (6-0)       27  13  14   0 –  54
South Williamsport (4-2)         6    0    0   14 – 20

First quarter
11:30 – (SW) Chris Klem 70-yard pass from A.J. Flick (kick failed), 3-70, :30
10:15 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 5-yard run (Ethan Dunkelberger kick), 6-57, 1:15
7:58 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 8-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 4-75, 1:45
5:21 – (SC) Gavin Garcia 30-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 2-39, :50
:13 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 6-yard pass from Preston Zachman (kick failed), 6-49, 2:56

Second quarter
7:10 – (SC) Julian Fleming 15-yard pass from Preston Zachman (Dunkelberger kick), 8-49, 3:26
2:59 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 10-yard run (run failed), 7-33, 3:05

Third quarter
10:33 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 46-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 3-51, 1:27
2:39 – (SC) Gavin Garcia 15-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 9-50, 5:16

Fourth quarter
11:20 – (SW) Gannon Guerrisky 7-yard run (pass failed), 6-66, 3:19
2:02 – (SW) Luke Winner 2-yard run (Winner pass from Landon Lorson), 9-43, 4:59

SC                  SW
First downs                               19                   11
Rushes-net yards                  46-290            24-134
Passing yardage                      156                 106
Passing                                7-10-2-0          6-24-1-1
Fumbles-lost                            3-1                  2-0
Penalties-yards                       4-40                 1-5

RUSHING: Southern Columbia: Gaige Garcia (14-109-4), Gavin Garcia (11-91-2), Ty Roadarmel (7-38), Jayden McCormick (5-8), Julian Fleming (2-16), Brandon Gedman (2-5), Braden Heim (2-13), Preston Zachman (1-12), Colin Sharrow (1-(-2)), TEAM (1-0); South Williamsport: Gannon Guerrisky (14-111-1), Luke Winner (6-17-1), Zack Miller (3-9), Austin Nash (1-(-3))

PASSING: Southern Columbia: Preston Zachman (7-9-156-2-0), Julian Fleming (0-1-0-0-0); South Williamsport: A.J. Flick (5-19-97-1-1), Landon Lorson (1-4-9-0-0), Cole Lentz (0-1-0-0-0)

RECEIVING: Southern Columbia: Julian Fleming (5-134-1), Gaige Garcia (2-22-1); South Williamsport: Chris Klem (2-66-1), Cole Lentz (2-30), Austin Nash (1-10), Hunter Finn (1-0)

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2 Responses to “Southern Columbia over South Williamsport”

  1. Southern Columbia recruits players! Been going on for years. Shamokin students and Mt. Carmel students jump schools to play on all star team at Southern. Rediculous says:

    Disgraceful program. Southern Columbia should be ashamed for recruiting /allowing students to cross borders just to win a football game. This area reckognizes and understands what corruption is going on in Catawissa /Elysburg. A win isn’t a win but not impressive if you have to do it be breaking the rules. Not a good example to show the kids. Sigh

  2. Dennis Pascoe says:

    Coach Eiswerth commented about the 20 points Southern gave up. But the Southern starters were long out of the game. Coach Roth WILL NOT run up the score. Southern could have put up 70 points or more. Coach Roth likes to use as many players as possible.