Tigers Title Bound
Thomas propels Southern in dominating victory
Hunter Thomas entered his senior season expecting big things. After all, he was chosen as an all-state running back after helping to lead Southern Columbia to a state championship in 2015. Unfortunately, two separate injuries have caused him to miss the better part of four games this season. However, just liked last year, he has elevated his play to an even higher level in the postseason. “It has definitely been frustrating to have to miss time because of different injuries this season, but now I’m fully healthy. Last year I felt I made my biggest impact in the playoffs, and so far it seems this postseason is going the same way and I hope it continues,” said Thomas who scored four times in helping the Tigers win 49-0 over Line Mountain in the District IV AA semi-finals. SCA’s main goal for the game was to stop the option attack that Line Mountain’s offense has used for success this season. “I thought our defense read the option well and we had guys around the football all night,” Southern coach Jim Roth said.
Southern’s defense stopped Line Mountain on a 4th and short to start the game to set up a 47-yard touchdown pass from Stone Hollenbach to Julian Fleming early on. On the next Eagles possession, Teagan Wilk intercepted a pass thrown by Kenny Boyer and four plays later Thomas scored on a 14-yard run to put him over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. “Hunter had some good runs where there was room initially, but then he found ways to turn average gains into scores,” Roth said. The Tigers would lead 14-0 after the first quarter and Line Mountain couldn’t get anything going on offense. Southern’s offense on the other hand has had things going all season long. “We have four first-year starters on this offensive line, but everyone has done the job in helping the offense to be as successful as we’ve been,” said lineman Andrew Bell who is the only returning starter up front.
SoCo would add three more touchdowns in the second quarter to put the game into the Mercy Rule by halftime. Thomas scored the first two touchdowns of the quarter on runs of 22 and 45 yards. The third touchdown was again set up by the defense after Hollenbach was intercepted on the Tigers previous offensive drive. “The defense really came to play and I felt they had a chip on their shoulder. Last week, Towanda scored some points, but this week the shutout really showed that our defense can be as good as any,” Thomas said. Tom Manley forced a fumble that was recovered by Anthony Scicchitano with less than a minute remaining in the half. Three plays later, Hollenbach connected with Fleming again, from 30 yards out, and Elijah Hoffman’s PAT made the score 35-0 at the break. “I feel like that offense is as talented as any I’ve seen in 30 years. We told our players to go out and leave it all on the field,” Line Mountain coach Brandon Carson said. “The younger kids on our team, that got to experience and play in this game, now know how much strength they need to add in the offseason to compete with a team like Southern.”
Thomas added his fourth touchdown in the third quarter on a 74-yard run. Early in the fourth quarter, Gaige Garcia sprinted 80 yards into the end zone pushing him over 1,600 yards rushing on the season and giving SCA a 49-0 lead that would hold as the final score. “It’s all a mentality. I think all of the guys were motivated to stop their option attack. We hadn’t seen that type of offense this year and we wanted to shut it down,” said Bell who also plays on the defensive line and was making stops seemingly all night. The Eagles were limited to just 129 yards of total offense in their season finale. The Tigers, who are averaging an astonishing 50.75 points per game this season, will host the District IV AA Championship game next Friday against South Williamsport on Jim Roth Field. The Mounties won a dramatic game, 28-24 over Wellsboro, in the final seconds to advance on the other half of the bracket to take on the defending state champions.
SCA: 14-21-7-7 = 49
LM: 0-0-0-0 = 0
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (12-0)
Hunter Thomas 8-168, 4 TDs; Gaige Garcia 7-111, TD; Nic Fetterman 5-27; Stone Hollenbach 2-2; Cole Potter 1-11; Ty Roadarmel 1-(-3); Nate Crowl 1-(-2)
Stone Hollenbach 6-10-1, 145 yds, 2 TDs
Julian Fleming 3-85, 2 TDs; Gaige Garcia 1-18; Hunter Thomas 1-20; Cam Young 1-12
1st DOWNS: 14
LINE MOUNTAIN (7-5)
Kenny Boyer 24-70; Cole Hauck 5-18; Brent Osman 7-12; Brenden Cregger 3-16
Kenny Boyer 3-12-2, 13 yds
Breven Derk 2-5; Justin Scott 1-8
1st DOWNS: 9
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