Tiger Offense Unstoppable
Southern Columbia runs through Mount Carmel
Football fans around the country have been eagerly anticipating this weekend as the NFL season kicks off. Millions of people have their fantasy football rosters in place and have to make difficult decisions as to who they should start. The decisions would be easier if the fantasy world revolved around high school football rather than professional. After Friday night’s game at The Silver Bowl, fantasy owners would be drooling to have any offensive weapon on Southern Columbia’s squad and would be dropping Mount Carmel Area’s defense instantaneously. In the 21st rendition of the SCA vs MCA rivalry, the Tigers reset the record for the most points scored in a game by defeating the Red Tornadoes 63-34. Jim Roth’s team also improved to 13-8 all-time against Mount Carmel. Plain and simple: Southern Columbia’s offense did what they wanted, when they wanted, & however they wanted.
The Tiger offense picked up a staggering 645 yards and scored nine touchdowns without punting at all in the victory. “Obviously our offensive line got the job done. I mean if you look at the final scoreboard and read the stats, the offense was impressive,” said freshman running back Gaige Garcia who was the leader with 196 rushing yards on just 13 carries. Hunter Thomas added 181 yards on only 11 carries, and they both contributed three rushing touchdowns. Thomas’ first one came on the first offensive play that the Tigers ran, and it came just a week after the senior left early in a win against Bloomsburg with an ankle injury. “I told everyone that my ankle felt better as the week moved on. It didn’t look good last weekend with the swelling, but that first carry certainly felt good,” said Thomas about his 54 yard opening play score to put the Tigers up 7-0.
The Red Tornadoes offense answered the call by driving 74 yards on the next drive. Quarterback John Ayres called his own number and scored from four yards out to tie the game at 7-7. On the Tigers second offensive play, they scored again. This time Garcia raced 67 yards down the sideline to put the visiting Tigers in front 14-7. “The skill position guys appreciate when we block for them up front and open up holes. With the line blocking well, our backs have been able to pick up lots of yardage,” said SCA offensive lineman Oak Six who is one of four first year starters on the line.
Lane Tanney, who had the best offensive performance for the Tornadoes, tied the game at 14 apiece on the first play of the second quarter with a 15-yard run. Southern got their passing game involved on the ensuing drive. Stone Hollenbach had completions of 31 and 17 yards to Julian Fleming and Garrett Henry respectively to set up a one-yard score for Garcia. “There were a few times that we slowed them down, but not many. Trying to stop a team like that is a tough task,” Mount Carmel coach John Darrah said. Ayres scored his second touchdown on a short run on the following drive. Then, the Tigers turned the ball over on downs and Wes Shurock caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Ayres to give the Tornadoes a 28-21 lead with 41 seconds left in the half. For the third time in the half, Southern needed only a single play to score. Thomas took a hand-off and sprinted 54 yards to pay dirt to tie the game at the half with neither defense showing any sign of stopping the opposing offense in the 28-28 slugfest.
The third quarter was when Southern’s defense finally gained control and the offense continued to soar. Thomas scored at the 9:15 mark to give his Tigers the lead for good. A 31-yard dash to the end zone gave them a 34-28 lead. After forcing Mount Carmel to punt, Garcia scored on a 74-yard run. It was Southern’s fourth one-play scoring drive of the game. Nic Fetterman added a two-point conversion to extend the lead to 42-28. Then, the Tigers defense stuffed the Red Tornadoes on a fourth down with Mount Carmel threatening deep in Southern territory. Max Tillett, who was filling in for injured Cal Haladay, was the first body to get to the runner behind the line of scrimmage and a half dozen other Tigers pounced on the play to give the ball back to SoCo’s offense. This time Southern did their damage through the air. Hollenbach hit his favorite receiver, Fleming, on a 10 yard out pattern. Fleming juked out a half dozen defenders and outran the rest of the defense for an 87-yard touchdown to extend the visitors lead. “Offensively we moved the ball the entire night. In the first half we had a lot of trouble with our front getting pushed around on defense. With their scheme, you need to be aggressive at the point of attack and I thought the defense did a better job of holding their ground after halftime,” Jim Roth said. “Unfortunately we suffered some injuries on defense early on, but guys like Max Tillett, who is another freshman, stepped up nicely for us.” MCA didn’t convert on fourth down when attempting a fake punt on the next drive, and Fetterman added a fourth score of the quarter on a 27-yard run to give the Tigers a commanding 56-28 lead at the quarter’s end. The Tigers needed two plays to score on that drive.
Fetterman added another score in the fourth quarter to put the game into the Mercy Rule at 63-28 on a night when the Red Tornadoes honored the late Phil Gergen with a banner under the scoreboard for his 40-year contribution as the public address announcer at Mount Carmel. “Hunter and Gaige ran the ball great all night, and I love blocking for them. It’s nice to get some carries though as well. I think we were just more disciplined and focused in the second half and the final score showed it,” said Fetterman. After that touchdown, both teams gave their reserves a chance to get in on the action. The Red Tornadoes added a late score when Tanner Karycki ran one in from 19 yards out. The starting backfield of the Tigers averaged over 14 yard per carry in the victory. “Their defense wasn’t staying in position and that helped us develop our inside running game. They were flowing outside and expecting sweeps, but we just ran it up the middle for success,” lineman Connor Fulmer said.
Southern Columbia will try and win their 45th consecutive regular season game next week on the road at Hughesville. “Each week we are improving. Our offensive guys have a ton of confidence at this point, and we will try to improve in all three phases again next week. The defense and special teams coverage are the main improvement areas, but we have athletes that are capable of fixing them,” Roth said. Mount Carmel has another tough opponent next week as they travel to Montoursville and will try to end their two game skid and improve the defense that is giving up an average of over 46 points per game through three weeks. “We will take a look at the film and try to get better. I have confidence in these guys,” said Darrah. Hughesville is 2-1 and Montoursville hasn’t lost.
SCA: 14-14-28-7 = 63
MCA: 7-21-0-6 = 34
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (3-0)
Gaige Garcia 13-196, 3 TDs; Hunter Thomas 11-181, 3 TDs; Nic Fetterman 8-80, 2 TDs; Stone Hollenbach 2-16; Nate Crowl 2-24; Ty Roadarmel 2-8; Cole Potter 1-5
Stone Hollenbach 3-6-0, 135 yds, TD
Julian Fleming 2-118, TD; Garrett Henry 1-17
1st DOWNS: 22
MOUNT CARMEL AREA (1-2)
Lane Tanney 13-100, TD; John Ayres 17-72, 2 TD; Tanner Karycki 2-27, TD; Zack Zarkowski 7-20; Shane Weidner 2-12; Nick Troutman 2-9; Tommy Reisinger 1-2.
John Ayres 5-12-0, 114 yds, TD; Tommy McDonald 1-1-0, 7 yds; Tommy Reisinger 0-1-0
Lane Tanney 3-45; Wes Shurock 1-43, TD; CJ Reichard 1-32; Manus McCracken 1-1.
1st DOWNS: 16
MCA stats provided by Damien Scoblink (PE)
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