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Warrior Run beats Northwest Area, ends 22-game losing streak

Written by: on Saturday, September 24th, 2022. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


TURBOTVILLE – Warrior Run has had a tough last couple of seasons. After a historic 2019 season in which the program won its first District 4 playoff game before falling to eventual district champion Montoursville, the Defenders had not won a game on the field since that first-round playoff victory over Lewisburg in November 2019 – when this year’s seniors were freshmen.

Aside from a forfeit win picked up in 2020, the Defenders were on a 22-game losing streak heading into Friday’s home game against previously unbeaten Northwest, which had outscored its first four opponents on the year by a combined 193-66 margin.

The Defenders, meanwhile, have been outscored by their opponents by a cumulative 220-40 score. Everything on paper pointed to another tough outing for Warrior Run.

But games are played on the field, not on paper, and despite not having any of those things in its favor, one would never have known which team was 4-0 and which was 0-4 by watching the game on Friday.

Warrior Run scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns on its first two possessions, which appeared the almost shell shock the Rangers, and the Defenders turned the tables entirely on Northwest, dominating the Rangers to the tune of a 486-223 advantage in total offense, as Warrior Run snapped its losing streak with an impressive 33-19 upset win over Northwest.

“These kids fight every day and it’s been a long three years. They came out and busted their butts, and I don’t think a lot of people gave them a chance but they believed and they came to play from the opening kickoff,” said Warrior Run coach Derrick Zechman. “They got confidence and I’m just proud of every single one of them.”

Ryan Newton threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns as the Defenders hit the Rangers early and Northwest never recovered or was able to get its own offense on track. Newton’s arm and the big plays it produced helped the Defenders overcome an astounding 14 penalties for 123 yards.

“They played us very well, hats off to them. We didn’t execute when we had to,” said Northwest coach Carl Majer. “We just need to regroup, get some guys back and it showed tonight. We had three ninth-graders on the (offensive) line – but it didn’t matter – Warrior Run played great and they did a great coaching job tonight.”

Big plays helped Northwest to its 4-0 start, but on Friday, the big plays were absent for Northwest, as the veteran players it had been missing for the first four games finally caught up with it. Aside from touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter, the Rangers could never quite get their offense going consistently. The Rangers’ were unable to get their speedy athletes free and in space on the outside, as Warrior Run harassed Northwest quarterback Carter Hontz all night, forcing him to throw three interceptions, and holding him to just nine completions on 22 pass attempts, while sacking him once.

“We rallied to the ball, but kudos and hats off to Coach Bowman with the defensive game plan. We shut their big plays down, and we played with a lot of heart. We did a good job winning the turnover battle, which was huge,” said Zechman. “They run a lot of plays because they spread it out and throw the ball, so we wanted to shorten the game as best we could. It worked, but we knew we had to score, and we got some confidence early by getting on the scoreboard.”

Warrior Run scored on its first two drives, with big plays setting up both scores. Newton hit Carter Marr for a 60-yard reception on the Defenders’ opening drive, which flipped field position, and Colby LeBarron finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown to give Warrior Run the early 6-0 lead.

Hontz was picked off by Tyler Ulrich on the third play of Northwest’s first drive, which set up Warrior Run near midfield, and Marr capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown reception to put the Defenders up 12-0. A 20-yard connection from Newton to Samuel Hall was the big gainer on that drive. Hall was the biggest recipient of Newton’s big night, as he caught seven balls for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Hontz, who also scored three touchdowns on the ground, scored his first early in the second quarter on a three-yard run to cut the Warrior Run lead in half. A 44-yard hookup with Andrew Bonczewski on the first play of that drive flipped field position for the Rangers. That play, however, was one of just two that went for more than 20 yards on the night for Northwest.

But Warrior Run answered right back as on the first play from scrimmage of its ensuing drive, as Hall hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it a two-score game again, 19-6, heading into the half.

The Defenders forced three straight punts following that score, and then got interceptions on two of Northwest’s next three drives beginning in the second half. Late in the third quarter, Hall took a short screen pass on a third-and-7 play that was caught at about the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown to extend Warrior Run’s lead to 26-6.

Operating the hurry-up offense, Hontz capped Northwest’s next two possessions following Hall’s touchdown with touchdown runs on his own. In between those two scores, however, the Defenders found the end zone again as Newton tossed his fourth touchdown of the game, a 31-yard pass to Ulrich, which capped a short two-play drive. Warrior Run seized back the momentum from Northwest after its first touchdown of the fourth quarter when LeBarron returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to set up Warrior Run at the Northwest 27.

Warrior Run took over at its own 42 following Northwest’s second touchdown of the fourth quarter and was able to run out the remaining 6:45 of the game without having to give Northwest the ball back.

Warrior Run 33, Northwest 19
Northwest (4-1)          0   6   0  13 – 19
Warrior Run (1-4)      12   7   7   7 – 33

First quarter
9:03 – (WR) Colby LeBarron 1-yard run (kick blocked), 6-68, 2:57
4:43 – (WR) Carter Marr 9-yard pass from Ryan Newton (pass failed), 9-52, 3:20

Second quarter
11:01 – (NW) Carter Hontz 3-yard run (kick failed), 7-71, 2:06
10:45 – (WR) Samuel Hall 64-yard pass from Ryan Newton (Hunter kick), 1-64, :16

Third quarter
:27 – (WR) Samuel Hall 61-yard pass from Ryan Newton (Hunter kick), 4-64, 1:50

Fourth quarter
9:33 – (NW) Carter Hontz 4-yard run (Foley kick), 12-60, 2:56
8:03 – (WR) Tyler Ulrich 31-yard pass from Ryan Newton (Hunter kick), 2-27, 1:30
6:45 – (NW) Carter Hontz 8-yard run (kick failed), 5-56, 1:18

                                          NW                     WR

First downs                       16                           20

Rushes-net yards          28-81                      35-91

Passing yardage              142                         395

Passing                        9-22-0-3                14-33-4-0

Fumbles-lost                    3-0                         1-1

Penalties-yards               9-71                     14-123

RUSHING — Northwest: Carter Hontz (17-77-3), Jacob Bobersky (9-14), Adam Chonko (1-3), TEAM (1-(-13)); Warrior Run: Colby LeBarron (26-69-1), Samuel Hall (5-7), Ryan Newton (1-13), Stone Allison (1-5), TEAM (2-(-3))

PASSING — Northwest: Carter Hontz (9-22-142-0-3); Warrior Run: Ryan Newton (14-33-395-4-0)

RECEIVING — Northwest: Adam Chonko (5-50), Andrew Bonczewski (3-83), Derek Dietz (1-9); Warrior Run: Samuel Hall (7-221-2), Carter Marr (5-128-1), Tyler Ulrich (1-31-1), Colby LeBarron (1-15)

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