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Written by: Chris Masse sungazette.com/ on Saturday, September 28th, 2019
KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Muncy’s Ross Eyer makes a catch for a touchdown as Canton’s Leonard Karpinski tries to break up the catch during a game Friday at Muncy.
MUNCY — Uriah Bailie placed his hands on his hips and watched the play clock tick down. As time melted away and another Canton victory became imminent Friday night, Bailie remained perfectly in control.
Skillfully commanding the offense, Bailie delivered his weekly dazzling performance, using his legs and arms to help Canton stay undefeated. A year ago, Bailie split quarterbacking duties with Michael Smithers. Now this is his offense and the senior is running it like a general. He did not top 300 total yards for a third straight week, but Bailie came close and Canton improved to 6-0.
Bailie ran for 191 yards, threw for 92 and totaled two touchdowns Friday at Stanley Schulyler Stadium as Canton defeated Muncy, 27-13 in a District 4 Class A championship rematch. The Warriors clinched a second straight winning season and avenged last year’s championship loss as it scored 14 points in less than three minutes to open the game.
“My first start was when I was a sophomore and on play one I was scared out of my shoes,” said Bailie, who has totaled 1,851 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. “Being a senior and having a couple games under my belt I have a lot more football knowledge now and that is helping me out there.”
“He’s in control. He feels comfortable out there,” Canton coach Tyler Sechrist said. “He’s throwing the ball well, he’s running the ball well and he does a lot for us. He’s a good kid and he’s a good leader.”
Bailie’s performance helped Canton exact a measure of revenge after Muncy edged it 9-7 in last year’s final and denied it a district crown for the first time since 1990. On the first day of training camp, Canton players bit into lemons so they could remember the sour taste they felt following that defeat. The lemons made a return before last night’s game and Bailie unleashed some sweet moves that helped Canton build a 14-0 lead before most fans had settled in.
Riley Parker set up Canton with good field possession following a 23-yard kickoff return and Bailie took the game’s second play around the right end for a 40-yard touchdown. The Warriors recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Bailie ran for 14 yards on the next play and Carson Stiner capped a quick drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Just 2 minutes, 56 into the game Canton had all the points it needed.
Canton pushed the lead to 21-0 in the second quarter when Owen Wesneski ran for a 2-yard touchdown. Muncy (3-3) pulled within 21-7 at halftime, but Bailie showed both his poise and talent to help start putting the game away in the the third quarter. On a third-and-goal from the 7, Bailie scanned the field and threaded the needle with a defender in his face, finding Ben Knapp (6 catches, 62 yards) for a touchdown that made it 27-7.
“We tasted the lemons before the game and we came out with our heads on right, but we still made a lot of mistakes,” Bailie said. “We have athletes all over the place. We have two sets of receivers and three to four running backs. We can spread the ball around really well.”
Canton’s lightning-quick start and Muncy playing without three starting linemen had it looking like this one might become a mercy-rule game by halftime. Instead, Muncy displayed both its toughness and potential, playing Canton even over the game’s final 38 minutes. The Indians tightened defensively and held Canton, an offense averaging 494 yards per game, to a season-low 313 yards. They also ran the ball more effectively than any team this year and Paul Pepper gained a season-high 94 yards.
A year ago, Muncy lost 18-0 at Canton before coming back six weeks later and winning its second district title in three years. This is a much younger team, but the Indians are growing up fast and expect to have all their starters back next week for The Old Shoe Game against Montgomery. Some of the names have changed, but the goals have not and Muncy’s performance over the last 38 minutes could provide a springboard.
“It’s one of those things where our young guys have to settle in a little quicker than they are right now. They’re taking a quarter to settle in, but have to come out on the field ready to play. We just have to focus on that and hopefully we’ll come back with the Shoe,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said. “Our kids stepped up and did a great job. We can’t ever question our kids for the effort they give. We didn’t know what they had and they stepped up and it was great to see.”
Muncy struggled on its first three possessions, but there was a bigger problem. Muncy rarely had the ball. By the time Wesneski scored Canton’s third touchdown with a little less than four minutes remaining in the first half, the Warriors had run 38 plays to Muncy’s 10. Still, Muncy came alive on its next series and went 67 yards on nine plays, pulling within 21-7 right before halftime when freshman quarterback Branson Eyer found cousin Ross Eyer for a 13-yard touchdown.
The Indians moved inside the Canton 30-yard line on the third-quarter’s first possession, but Garrett Storch stopped Ethan Gush two yards shy of a first down on fourth-and-five. Storch, a two-way starter, helped anchor the defense and came up big again when he blocked a punt that set up Canton’s final touchdown.
Muncy kept fighting late and Ross Eyer continued displaying his big-play ability when he made a spectacular 34-yard touchdown catch with 68 seconds remaining. Branson Eyer was rushed but was about to put up the fourth down pass and Ross Eyer leaped high over two defenders, catching his seventh touchdown and making it 27-13. Nick May recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Eyer’s play was the latest highlight one he has made, giving him seven touchdowns on 12 catches this season.
“We joke all the time and ask how many touchdown caches do you have? How many catches do you have? You have more touchdowns than receptions? We laugh and joke about it but we know Ross is a big-play threat. Everybody around knows Ross is a big-play threat,” Tetreault said. “In double coverage he’s still able to high-point the ball and makes a play. He’s going to be a great weapon in the future for us.”
Canton’s future includes a showdown against fellow district title contender Sayre next Friday. More challenging games against North Penn-Mansfield, Wellsboro and Troy follow that one. Make no mistake, Canton is excited that it won and that it is 6-0. Still, the expectations have drastically changed for this program over the last two years.
The Warriors do not like the way they finished last night’s game. Canton does not want to be tasting lemons come November so work remains.
“I think they’re as frustrated as we are as coaches. It’s a good win. You shouldn’t be frustrated when you win, but it’s funny how things change,” Sechrist said. “It’s good because there’s expectations and it’s something to push them.”
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