Southern Columbia rolls past Loyalsock
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CATAWISSA – Having lost numerous seniors, including five Division I players, from last year’s team that was one of the most dominant in state history, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to think that Southern Columbia, while maybe not taking a step back, might at least return to Earth this season.
But even without those four players now playing in the Big Ten and the rest of that standout senior class, it would appear, at least through three games, that Southern hasn’t missed a beat.
Behind Gavin Garcia’s 196 rushing yards on just seven carries and 242 all-purpose yards – all coming in the first half – and three touchdowns, Southern built a 44-0 halftime lead en route to a 50-20 win over Loyalsock on Thursday night, marking the 51st straight win for the Tigers, and the program’s 84th straight regular season win.
“I was impressed with how we were able to come out quick and score early and often and build a big lead,” said Southern coach Jim Roth. “Both Gavin and Braeden Wisoski and especially Gavin were both explosive running the ball and making big plays. There were times I thought our blocking wasn’t as good as it could have been but Loyalsock has a big experienced defensive front, so you’re not always going to dominate those people. But with the backs we have, as long we get a stalemate or any kind of room for our backs, we have the potential for a big play.”
Behind Garcia, the Tigers once again primarily used a strong running game and took advantage of a couple of turnovers to get a big lead early. Southern ran for 362 yards in the game, of which 257 came in the first half, and big plays carried the night for Garcia, as he had runs of 30, 28, 42 and 78 yards to finish the night with 28 yards per carry.
Loyalsock committed a turnover on its first play from scrimmage after receiving the opening kickoff as Chase Cavanaugh was picked off by Nick Zeigler at midfield. Two plays later, Liam Klebon found a wide open Garcia with no one within 15 yards of him for a 38-yard touchdown pass to make it 6-0 just :30 into the game.
Loyalsock then punted on its next possession and Southern took over at its own 32. On the first play of the drive, Garcia ripped off a 30-yard run, and then a 28-yard gain three plays later, followed by Wisloski’s 8-yard touchdown, which would be the first of three touchdowns for Wisloski on the night.
The next came :12 later after Loyalsock fumbled the ensuing kickoff at its own 4-yard line, and Wisloski ran it in on the first play to make 21-0 with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
Another one-play drive, this one a 42-yard touchdown run by Garcia, made it 28-0 with still over six minutes left in the first.
“A lot of people talked about them not being the same team but this is Southern Columbia and they’re a state championship type of team every year,” said Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet. “I think those kids heard those echos a lot of that motivated them throughout the offseason.
“I am proud of our kids for not giving up and continuing to work and execute. The big thing that we learned tonight was we have to raise our level of aggressiveness and intensity. In addition to that, we’re going to take this as a lesson for practice to hit and get great reps and to be able to react to such a quick twitch-type athlete like they have at multiple positions. You have to be precise and we’ve got some good athletes of our own and we just have to continue to grow and get better. Hopefully, we can raise our level of play and if we see them down the road, can put up better competition.”
After another Loyalsock punt on the Lancers’ next possession and a 16-yard return by Jake Davis, Southern put together its longest drive of the game in plays as it went 56 yards in eight plays, capped by a 1-yard touchdown by Wisloski.
Southern got a safety on Loyalsock’s next possession when a high snap on a punt went into the end zone to make it 37-0 with 9:27 to play in the first half.
Garcia capped the first half scoring and made it 44-0 with a 78-yard run with under a minute to play in the second quarter. He shed the initial attempted tackle near the line of scrimmage, then got to open space and outran two other Loyalsock defenders that started just about a yard behind him, making plenty of space between him and the defenders by the time he reached the end zone.
In the second half, Loyalsock, which was playing just its second game of the season after dealing with an outbreak on its team and having its first two games cancelled, left its starters in for most of the second half to get some reps after the Lancers won in a blowout last week. They scored three straight touchdowns against Southern’s second team defense to make it 44-20 with 6:29 left in the fourth quarter.
After being held to just 19 total yards in the first half, the Lancers scored on their first three drives of the second half with the running clock. Cavanaugh had a nine-yard touchdown run followed by an 18-yard touchdown run by Korie Mayer at the end of the third quarter. A long 64-yard run by Cavanaugh set up Mayer for a one-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Cavanaugh finished with 113 rushing yards to lead the Lancers, while Mayer had 88, the vast majority for both of them coming in the second half.
From there, Roth put his first team defense back in after the Tigers fumbled on a short squib kick on the kickoff and Loyalsock recovered. On the second play from scrimmage, there was a skirmish following the play, and both Nick Barrone of Loyalsock and Tim Witcoskie of Southern were ejected after several personal foul penalties were assessed to both teams.
“Last week we really only played a quarter (with the starters) and this week the first half didn’t go very well, so we didn’t get that many reps,” said Van Fleet. “Our backup kicker just missed the ball (on the kickoff) and at that point, we were going with the JV and things got all funky and sometimes that happens but it is what it is.”
“That’s a tough situation when it gets out of hand early and you have two sides playing people at different levels,” said Roth. “You want to play your younger kids and back off when you have a big lead but sometimes it can get a little shaky and once it was 44-20, it just wasn’t a great situation with the way it played out. We talked about it after the game as far as keeping your cool
The Lancers punted on that possession, and from there, Wes Barnes ripped off a 71-yard run on Southern’s ensuing possession, giving him a 100-yard game as well.
Southern Columbia 50, Loyalsock 20
Loyalsock (1-1) 0 0 14 6 – 20
Southern Columbia (3-0) 28 16 0 6 – 50
11:30 – (S) Gavin Garcia 38-yard pass from Liam Klebon (kick failed), 2-50, :16
7:31 – (S) Braeden Wisloski 8-yard run (Sharrow pass from Klebon), 5-68, 2:08
7:19 – (S) Braeden Wisloski 4-yard run (Carter kick), 1-4, :06
6:05 – (S) Gavin Garcia 42-yard run (Carter kick), 1-42, :12
11:56 – (S) Braeden Wisloski 1-yard run (Carter kick), 8-56, 4:13
9:27 – (S) Team safety
:53 – (S) Gavin Garcia 78-yard run (Carter kick), 1-78, :18
6:18 – (L) Chase Cavanaugh 9-yard run (Dowell kick), 8-54, 3:26
:10 – (L) Korie Mayer 18-yard run (Dowell kick), 3-67, 1:10
6:29 – (L) Korie Mayer 1-yard run (kick failed), 6-97, 2:27
2:10 – (S) Wes Barnes 71-yard run (kick blocked), 2-79, 2:00
First downs 12 13
Rushes-net yards 37-196 38-362
Passing yardage 29 46
Passing 3-12-0-1 2-2-1-0
Fumbles-lost 6-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-59 7-64
RUSHING: Loyalsock: Chase Cavanaugh (15-113-1), Korie Mayer (14-88-2), Nick Barone (4-20), Malachi Coleman (2-3), Nazier Smith (1-0), TEAM (1-(-28)); Southern Columbia: Wes Barnes (12-111-1), Gavin Garcia (7-196-2), Braeden Wisloski (5-20-3), Braden Heim (4-14), Matt Masala (3-9), Brandon Gedman (2-11), Liam Klebon (2-2), Connor Gallagher (2-0), TEAM (1-(-1))
PASSING: Loyalsock: Chase Cavanaugh (3-12-29-0-1); Southern Columbia: Liam Klebon (2-2-46-1-0)
RECEIVING: Loyalsock: Nazier Smith (1-12), JerVal Weeks-Shuler (1-10), Brendan Clark (1-7); Southern Columbia: Gavin Garcia (2-46-1)
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