Tigers Take District Gold
CATAWISSA: The Tigers of Southern Columbia(11-1) earned the District IV Class A title with a convincing 35 – 14 win over a familiar foe, the Eagles of Line Mountain(10-2). They did it by pounding the leather right at the Eagles with an “I dare you to stop me” sort of attitude. The ground-pounding running game, coupled with the efficient passing of Brad Fegley, were too much for the physical Line Mountain team to contain. The victory marks the sixth in a row for SoCo over the Eagles, with the last five being Line Mountain’s only losses since early in the 2009 season.
The Eagles received the opening kick-off to start the hard-hitting affair, but lost the ball on the third play from scrimmage when QB, Marty Beninsky fumbled and David Jeremiah recovered for SoCo. The turnover gave the Tigers a short field at the Eagles’ 30 yard-line, and they utilized seven plays to get to the endzone. QB, Brad Fegley capped the drive with a one-yard score and Dylan Swank kicked the PAT to take the 7 – 0 lead at 7:40 in the first quarter.
For their part, the Eagles showed great determination and wasted little time in responding – 23 seconds to be exact. After Kyle Troutman returned the kick to near mid-field, at the Southern 48, Beninsky broke loose for 33 with a late hit penalty tacked on the end of the run. Troutman then bolted in from eight yards out and the Eagles tried for two, but were denied. It looked like a shoot-out might be in the making with the score at 7 – 6.
Coach Roth’s Tigers took it all in stride as they march methodically down-field, traveling 54 yards on six plays. First, Casey Savitski rumbled 16 yards on an inside reverse, then Tyler Levan pounded his way for 19 and 7 yard rushes, before Savitski sealed it with a 7-yard TD. Then the defense began to step up in a big way. Jamie Slotterback registered a sack and a hurry on consecutive plays, and the Eagles were forced to punt the ball back to Southern.
Both squads slugged it out in a battle for field position, trading three series each until late in the second quarter. Beninsky tried to go long on 3rd&17 from LM’s own 22, but the gamble failed when Bryce Parry intercepted the pass at the Tigers’ 39. With just over two minutes before the break, Fegley threw a 15-yard strike to Savitski across mid-field. Then Levan got the call and ran like a man possessed the 46-yard distance to paydirt. With 1:41 left on the clock, the SoCo had extended their lead to 21-6. Using up their three time-outs, the Tiger defense went to work getting the ball back for one more shot. Slotterback came up with another big sack and Line Mountain was forced to punt on 4th&9.
With possession at their own 36 and less than a minute remaining, Fegley went to work. First a strike to Matt Moore, who fought his way down to the LM 36 and a gain of 28; spike to stop the clock. Then he connected with Keith Day for 25; then another spike. An incomplete pass made it 3rd&10 at the 11. With 0:06 remaining Fegley floated the ball just above the defender into the hands of Day, falling to his back in the corner of the endzone. The Tigers were fully in command at 28 – 6 heading to the lockers.
With possession of the ball to open the second half, Southern sealed the deal in a business-like manner. They ground out 95 yards on nine plays, including 26 yards from Levan, 13 from Moore, and 18 yards rushing from Fegley before he connected with Jake Becker for the 38-yard scoring pass. Dylan Swank was perfect on the night with five PAT’s, and coach Roth sent in the reserves to mop-up with the score 35-6 mid way through the third period.
The Eagle starters managed to tack on a score late in the fourth on a 75-yard break-away by Beninsky, capped by a 2-point conversion, but it was largely inconsequential as time ticked away.
LINE MOUNTAIN(10-2) dominated the Twin Valley Conference once again this season, going undefeated in league play. They simply have the misfortune of being in the same district as the Southern Columbia juggernaut. On the night they posted 219 yards of total offense, with 200 of that coming on 32 rushing attempts. Beninsky was 2 of 8 passing for 19 yards and one interception.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA(11-1) advances to State Playoff action next week at Kemp Memorial Stadium in Shamokin. Th take on Old Forge(10-2) from District II who decimated Riverside(7-5) 47-6 on Friday night. The Tigers compiled 456 yards of total offense against Line Mountain, with Levan leading the game at 164 yards on 15 carries. Fegley was once again very efficient with his passing at 8 of 12 for 129 yards and 2 TD’s. He continues his streak of zero interception on the year. Congratulations to the coaching staff and the players for being crown District IV, Class A champs for the 20th time since 1991.
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