Southern Columbia’s Offense Dominates
Tigers total nearly 600 yards in win
By: Dave Fegley (Twitter: @DFegs9)
Southern Columbia’s offense has been impressive all season long. They have had success on the ground and in the air behind the blocking of their offensive line. The result has been 10 Mercy Rule victories this season now through 12 weeks. In Friday’s District IV AA semi-final, a convincing 56-20 victory over Hughesville, the Tigers racked up yardage on the ground at a blistering rate. The starting backfield combination of Hunter Thomas, Jared Torres, Blake Marks, and QB Nick Becker carried the ball 22 times between them and tallied 410 yards rushing. “We have been playing well all season, but now that we are in playoff mode our intensity level is picking up,” said Thomas who led the way with 164 yards on six carries and added three touchdowns.
The Spartans got on the board first to start the game with a 19 yard run by Melvin Derhammer, but the Tigers answered right back on the ensuing kickoff. Hughesville attempted a squib kick that was taken by speedster Billy Marzeski. The senior switched directions, crossing field from right to left, and outran the coverage team for a 73 yard score. “I saw the ball bounce in front of me so I grabbed it. Then I saw most of their guys on one side of the field, so I cut back to the other side,” Marzeski said. “They had two or three guys on the opposite side of the field, but they were pretty slow and I was able to outrun them into the end zone.” After that, Southern scored on their next five possessions and the defensive unit for the black and gold shut down the opposition to put the game into the Mercy Rule by halftime.
Thomas scored the Tigers next two touchdowns on runs of 81, the first offensive play of the game for SCA, and then a five yard run. Becker threw two touchdown passes to Steve Toczylousky and Cam Young respectively, and then Torres scored from 21 yards out for the final score of the half. “We started out kind of slow, and Hughesville had a lot to do with that. They had a solid season and it took us a little bit to get going. Once we found our groove, I was pleased with the way we played on both sides of the ball,” Southern coach Jim Roth said. The Tigers forced four turnovers on the night and forced four straight punts after the Spartans opening score.
Toczylousky’s touchdown put him alone at the top of the Tigers single-season record books and tied him for career receiving touchdowns. His 12th touchdown broke a 20 year mark held by assistant coach Andy Helwig. “He congratulated me as I came off the field and that was a cool feeling. I actually didn’t have any idea until you (Dave Fegley) told me after last week’s game that I was even close,” Toczylousky said. The two-way starter also added two interceptions on the night. “It’s real important to me that I am able to go both ways. I want to try and help this team out any way possible,” he said.
In total, Southern’s offense was able to rack up 511 yards on the ground after reserve fullback Nic Fetterman added 92 rushing yards after halftime. Add in Becker’s 77 passing yards, and SCA nearly went over the 600 yard plateau as a team. “We came out and played with a lot of confidence like we do every week. We really don’t care who we are playing because we just play football the way we know how,” said Southern lineman Andrew Bell. It was with the help of the offensive line that allowed for the backs to pile up mindboggling yards per carry. Thomas averaged 27.3 yards per carry, Becker 21.5, Marks 16.8, Torres 13.2, and Fetterman 11.5 per attempt.
All four touchdowns in the second half came on long plays as well. Hughesville scored first to make the score 42-14 when Trey Smith got behind the Tiger secondary and scored on a 95 yard pass thrown out of the end zone by quarterback Landon Henry. The Tigers scored on their next two possessions on runs of 63 yards by Marks and 46 yards by Thomas. The final touchdown was a milestone for Spartan senior wide receiver Zach Fry. He caught a 66 yard bomb from Henry to put him over 1,000 yards receiving for the season. “This was definitely our most balanced rushing game of the season. It seemed like no matter who touched the ball they were all able to pick up yardage. That’s certainly a positive heading into next week and hopefully further into the postseason,” Roth stated after the 56-20 drubbing his team laid on Hughesville. The Spartans, coached by Dan Tucker, ended a successful 2015 season at 9-3 and have valuable pieces returning for next year’s team to build off of. His team can look at Southern’s success as a measuring stick that could be a sense of motivation for the Spartans heading into the offseason. “They have an amazing program. They can do so many things to take you out of a game,” stated Tucker.
Southern Columbia will get the rematch they have been waiting for since the end of last season. The Montoursville Warriors, a Friday night winner over Athens, will come to Tiger Stadium next week to take on the Tigers in the District IV AA Championship. The Warriors upset the Tigers in last year’s semi-final matchup on their way to earning the district crown. The winner of next Friday’s game will enter the state playoffs and take on the winner between Berks Catholic and Wyomissing the following Saturday afternoon.
SCA: 21-21-14-0 = 56
HHS: 7-0-7-6 = 20
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (12-0)
Hunter Thomas 6-164, 3 TDs; Jared Torres 9-119, TD; Blake Marks 5-84, TD; Nic Fetterman 8-92; Nick Becker 2-43; Jake Potter 2-5; Thomas Manley 1-5; Jeffrey Cox 1-0; Billy Marzeski 2-(-2)
Nick Becker 8-10-0, 77 yds, 2 TDs
Steve Toczylousky 2-35, TD; Cam Young 2-25, TD; Hunter Thomas 2-11; Blake Marks 2-6
1st DOWNS: 18
Melvin Derhammer 16-83, TD; Landon Henry 5-6; Ryan McClain 3-(-1)
Landon Henry 10-22-3, 231 yds, 2 TD
Trey Smith 4-141, TD; Zach Fry 4-77, TD; Jase Wright 1-10; Ethan Duff 1-3
1st DOWNS: 10
Hughesville stats provided by Damien Scoblink (PE)
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