Southern Columbia Routs Mifflinburg
Unfortunate injury again for Tigers to start 2015
By: Dave Fegley (Twitter: @DFegs9)
For the second consecutive year, Southern Columbia opened the season with a convincing victory over Mifflinburg. Unfortunately, for the second consecutive year, the Tigers also suffered a tough loss to injury. Last season, all-state performer Luke Rarig went down in the first quarter with a torn ACL. This year, in the opening quarter as well, the Tigers lost one of their captains and quarterback to an injury that doesn’t appear to be quite as serious. Although Nick Becker was taken by ambulance with a non-throwing shoulder injury, head coach Jim Roth is optimistic. “He came back from the hospital to the sidelines in the fourth quarter so that’s the best sign. It’s a shoulder injury and as far as I know they’re not saying it’s anything too serious to cause him to be out for a long period of time. He’s going to get evaluated by the doctors this weekend, so we will find out the extent of the injury after the tests,” said Roth. Becker returned to the sideline in a hospital gown to a standing ovation which showed how much of a true leader Becker really is and how much respect he has gotten over the past three seasons as the team’s signal caller under center.
As for the game, the scoring started on defense for the Tigers. Senior safety Steve Toczylousky came off the edge on a safety blitz and knocked the ball out of Mifflinburg quarterback James Zack’s hands. Chase Tillett was there to scoop up the fumble for Southern and he took it in from 38 yards out to start the scoring for the Tigers. “Honestly a funny story, I was talking to Blake Marks in the locker room before the game and told him that I actually had a dream last night about that exact same thing happening,” said Tillett. Marks, who was kicking early in the game because starting kicker Tyler Keiser was at his soccer game, connected on the extra point to give the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.
Southern forced a punt on the ensuing possession thanks to three straight tackles from senior Austin Knepp who just moved into the district toward the end of last school year. Becker had the big play on that series with a 40 yard carry after breaking several tackles on the play that ended when he landed awkwardly which would be his final play of the night. Fullback Jared Torres scored from five yards out to make the score 13-0. Mifflinburg struck back on the first play of their next drive when Zack connected on a 65 yard dart to Brian Zimmerman to make the score 13-7 and that was the score after the first quarter. Zack finished with an impressive 265 yards through the air in his first varsity start. Zimmerman also had himself a nice night with 108 yards on five grabs.
The Wildcats took the lead 14-13 early in the second quarter with a 70 yard touchdown run by Brayden Pierce after breaking several tackles in route to the end zone. The game changing play happened on the next kickoff when Hunter Thomas took it to the house from 92 yards out to give Southern a 19-14 lead that they would keep for the rest of the game. “It was a short kick that I caught on the run which gave me a full head of steam going forward. Blake (Marks) made a good block on a kid and I cut off of his block. After that I was off to the races,” Thomas said. Keiser arrived to the stadium in the second quarter and tacked on a 34 yard field goal right before half to give Southern a 22-14 lead at the break. Backup quarterback Justin Derk set up the field goal with a 30 yard completion to tight end Garrett Henry to put the ball at the one yard line. However, a costly penalty by Southern negated their chance at getting six on the drive. Southern finished the night with 13 penalties and two of those penalties cancelled scores. Derk played in Becker’s absence for the remainder of the first half action.
Thomas scored on a 42 yard run to start the third quarter to stretch Southern’s lead to 29-14. The junior finished with 77 yards on only six carries. For the second half, the Tigers put in their other backup quarterback Drew Michaels who completed a 19 yard pass and had a 14 yard rush to set up the next score. Torres scored his second touchdown on the night from three yards out to make it 36-14. Roth was pleased with the way the backups played in Becker’s absence. “I thought both Justin and Drew came in and did a nice job. We didn’t hit on a couple of passes, but they both had to go in with some nerves with the situation the way it was. They didn’t go in there when the game was out of reach, they went in under fire and I was pleased with the way they both handled themselves,” Roth said. Michaels played the remainder of the game and showed that he is capable of using his legs when he gets outside of the pocket.
Marks scored the next touchdown on a 34 yard run in which he made a couple of Barry Sanders type cuts. On that carry Marks was able to go over the century mark and made the score 43-14 ultimately putting it out of reach for good. Pierce, who had 124 yards on the ground, scored Mifflinburg’s final touchdown on the next drive. The final score came from Southern’s Dylan Kranzel on a three yard carry to make it a 49-21 victory for Southern at their home field. “It was a great team win for us. Obviously with Nick (Becker) going down early it handed us some adversity, but we were able to pull it together,” said Tillett. Southern travels to local rival Bloomsburg next week and Mifflinburg will host Heartland Conference foe Danville.
SCA: 13-9-21-6 = 49
MIFF: 7-7-0-7 = 21
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (1-0)
Hunter Thomas 7-74, TD; Blake Marks 8-106, TD; Jared Torres 7-36, 2 TD’s; Nick Becker 1-40; Drew Michaels 4-63; Billy Marzeski 1-4; Thomas Manley 2-11; Dylan Kranzel 1-3, TD; AJ Goodlunas 1-9; Sami Abdul 1-2; Cole Potter 1-8
Justin Derk 3-9-0, 62 yds; Drew Michaels 1-4-0, 19 yds
Steve Toczylousky 1-25; Cameron Young 1-19; Jared Torres 1-7; Garrett Henry 1-30
1st DOWNS: 18
Brayden Pierce 16-124, 2 TD; Hunter Kahley 2-(-2); Cole Laubach 3-(-2); Brian Zimmerman 1-(-2); Josh Foster 1-(-8); James Zack 5-(-10)
James Zack 21-33-1, 265 yds, TD; Josh Foster 1-1-0, 27 yds
Tristan Martin 8-57; Brian Zimmerman 5-108, TD; Bradley Sauers 4-42; Cole Laubach 2-45; Robert Foltz 1-27; Brayden Pierce 1-8; Christopher Day 1-5.
1st DOWNS: 16
Mifflinburg stats provided by Damien Scoblink (PE)
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