Southern Columbia rolls over Troy, sets up district final matchup with Mount Carmel
ELYSBURG – Even though his team may be heavily favored in some games, such as Saturday’s District 4 Class 2A semifinal against Troy, Southern Columbia head coach Jim Roth is always one to show respect to his team’s opponent.
But after the Tigers topped the Trojans 69-16 after racing out to a 55-0 lead, one could tell from his postgame comments that both he and his team know that the postseason gets a bit tougher next week.
“They came out and took care of business the way they needed to and we’re at the point now where things will get more challenging starting next week so we’re just trying to stress now that we need to be ready to go and the first time you win against a team doesn’t mean anything but this is the one that really matters,” said Roth, referring to Mount Carmel, who Southern defeated early in the season.
As many area football fans and observers likely predicted before the season began, it will be the Red Tornadoes taking on Southern next week for the district championship in what will be a rematch of last year’s title game. That is happening because both Mount Carmel and Southern took care of business on Saturday – Mount Carmel earlier in the day against North Penn-Mansfield, and the Tigers doing so early on against the Trojans. Southern scored on six of its seven first half possessions to race out to a 48-0 halftime lead, while the Tigers held Troy to just 14 first half yards and did not allow them to advance the ball past their own 37-yard line.
“I’m proud of my kids playing arguably the best team in the state in any classification,” said Troy coach Jim Smith. “They’re classy about it, they could probably score 100 on everyone they play. They’re big, strong, fast and deep. In my eight years, this is by far the best football team I’ve seen. I can’t imagine anyone beating them.”
Gaige Garcia scored three of those touchdowns as he finished with eight carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns and also caught an 18-yard touchdown pass. That scoring reception was the only Stone Hollenbach completion of the night that wasn’t caught by Julian Fleming, who snagged Hollenbach’s other seven completions for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fleming also added two additional touchdowns on interception returns.
Fleming returned his first pick 32 yards for a touchdown just prior to halftime and then, on Troy’s second play from scrimmage of the second half, got another pick and returned it 35 yards for a score to make it 55-0.
“A lot of people contributed offensively and we just have to continue to keep the offensive balance and we came out of this healthy and that was also a key,” said Roth. “We should have a lot of good football left in us and a lot of energy to finish strong because the starters have been on the sideline in a lot of these games in the second half but this is where the fun starts now.”
Southern also got a 42-yard rushing touchdown from Ty Roadarmel in the first half, and second half rushing touchdowns by both Braden Heim and Jayden McCormick with the game in the mercy rule.
For Troy, Smith believes his young team got much more out of Saturday’s game than being just another team to suffer a lopsided loss to the perennial state power Tigers.
“This was what I anticipated. I’m proud of my kids and how they played. We have 30 kids, most of which are underclassmen,” said Smith. “We played hard, made some plays and for the young kids, this was an invaluable experience. I feel like we went as far as we could have gone with the team that we had and for that I’m very proud.”
Troy, which was seeded fifth in the eight-team District 4 Class 2A playoffs, went on the road and defeated Wellsboro in last week’s quarterfinals, which avenged a 28-point loss in Week 2.
“I think anytime you see the best that there is and you know where you have to be, it can be a little motivation for them,” said Smith. “They know they need to get bigger and stronger and improve a lot and they will. Coaches understand that these games are won and lost in the offseason and we preach that and the good programs preach that.”
Troy was able to find the end zone twice in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout. The Trojans took possession on the Southern 9-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter after a snap went over the head of Southern’s punter and was recovered by Troy. Three players later, Bailey Cohick punched it in from two yards out, and then Troy added a two-point conversion on a trick play as quarterback/holder Dominic Ayers lined up as if to hold a PAT, but stood up after taking the snap and found Tyler Williams for the two-point conversion. Cohick led the Trojans with 53 rushing yards on 15 carries and also added 10 kickoff returns for 116 yards.
After Southern scored again to make it 62-8 with 5:29 remaining, Williams received the ensuing kickoff and returned it 89 yards for a touchdown, on what turned out to be the senior’s final play of his high school career, which was followed by another two-point conversion.
“That’s something he’ll always remember, his last play in uniform,” said Smith. “The three seniors that we had playing, played hard and they all made plays.”
Southern Columbia 69, Troy 16
Troy (7-5) 0 0 0 16 – 16
Southern Columbia (12-0) 20 28 7 14 – 69
10:06 – (SC) Julian Fleming 29-yard pass from Stone Hollenbach (kick blocked), 4-51, 1:54
6:12 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 18-yard pass from Stone Hollenbach (Ethan Dunkelberger kick), 5-31, 1:53
3:44 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 2-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 4-58, 1:19
9:12 – (SC) Julian Fleming 9-yard pass from Stone Hollenbach (Dunkelberger kick), 3-78, :47
5:24 – (SC) Ty Roadarmel 42-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 3-52, 1:25
1:41 – (SC) Gaige Garcia 63-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 4-79, 1:52
1:25 – (SC) Julian Fleming 32-yard interception return (Dunkelberger kick)
10:42 – (SC) Julian Fleming 35-yard interception return (Dunkelberger kick)
10:34 – (T) Bailey Cohick 2-yard run (Tyler Williams pass from Dominic Ayers), 3-9, 1:20
5:29 – (SC) Braden Heim 3-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 8-62, 5:05
5:25 – (T) Tyler Williams 89-yard kickoff return (Caleb Binford pass from Ayers)
2:42 – (SC) Jayden McCormick 5-yard run (Dunkelberger kick), 4-21, 2:43
First downs 9 20
Rushes-net yards 34-81 32-315
Passing yardage 36 123
Passing 6-14-0-3 8-11-3-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 2-15 7-65
RUSHING: Troy: Bailey Cohick (15-53-1), Tyler Williams (9-24), Dominic Ayers (9-3), Damien Landon (1-1); Southern Columbia: Gaige Garcia (8-109-2), Braden Heim (7-42-1), Jayden McCormick (5-34-1), Gavin Garcia (4-76), Brandon Gedman (4-15), Ty Roadarmel (2-52-1), Stone Hollenbach (1-0), TEAM (1-(-13))
PASSING: Troy: Dominic Ayers (6-14-36-0-3); Southern Columbia: Stone Hollenbach (8-11-123-3-1)
RECEIVING: Troy: Seldon Rogers (4-24), Bailey Cohick (1-7), Nick Colton (1-5); Southern Columbia: Julian Fleming (7-105-2), Gaige Garcia (1-18-1)
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