Millionaires blank Central Mountain
Written by: Chris Masse on Monday, August 26th, 2019
MILL HALL — As Rocco Stark sprinted toward the line, Williamsport defensive end Avery Campbell blew past a lineman and dropped him for no gain. That 3rd-and-2 stop did more than force a punt three plays into the game.
It sent a powerful message. This was going to be a long night for Central Mountain. And this Williamsport defense looks a lot different than a year ago. Friday night, the Millionaires looked downright ferocious, giving a performance that would make the 1985 Bears proud.
That defense overpowered Central Mountain, quarterback Dallas Griess totaled 232 yards and Keith Freeman ran for a career-high 106 yards as Williamsport blanked Central Mountain, 28-0 in its season opener. The Millionaires recorded their first shutout this decade and surrendered just 80 yards on 45 plays, while forcing nine punts.
The Millionaires might be young, but they sure looked imposing last night.
“We’ve been working really hard. It’s been tough, but we’ve been working till the end in two-a-days and it paid off,” said Freeman, who scored a third-quarter touchdown and broke up two passes. “We’ve been putting in the work so we can play like this.”
“They were just flying around. They were excited,” Williamsport coach Chuck Crews said. “We played fast. We played hard, we played aggressive and that’s a good thing.”
It certainly is, especially after Williamsport allowed more yards per game than all but two teams a year ago. Defensive assistants Jeremy Sennett, Doug Thiel and RJ Haas installed a game plan that utilize their players’ strengths and the Millionaires brilliantly executed it. Central Mountain paid that price, too, gaining minus-3 yards and no first downs in the second half.
All facets of Williamsport’s defense were humming and Central Mountain was held to minus or zero yards on 29 of its 45 plays. The Millionaires recorded 13 tackles for loss and four sacks, while constantly pressuring dynamic quarterback Zane Probst. Defensive linemen like Campbell, Nassir Jones, Connor Adkins, Dade Splain and Charles Crews owned the line of scrimmage, while linebackers and defensive backs poured through like water, permitting Central Mountain just seven rushing yards.
“This is a totally different defense. We have a bunch of young guys coming up, so they’re filling in their roles. They all played their roles tonight,” senior linebacker Drake Mankey said after making six tackles, including one for loss, and adding two quarterback hurries. “That first series we were like we’ve got this. Let’s just keep on penetrating and dominating and we had it.”
Cameron Sonnie gained eight yards on the game’s first play. That Central Mountain finished with seven rushing yards shows how complete this defensive dominance was. Jones set up real estate in the backfield, finishing with a sack, three tackles for loss and six hurries.
Probst made some big throws under duress in the first half, but Central Mountain never moved closer than Williamsport’s 26-yard line. That trip ended in a missed field goal. Twice, Central Mountain had quality opportunities, taking over inside Millionaire territory following a short punt and a turnover. Those two possessions produced nine yards on 10 plays.
“We worked as a team. I’m so happy to see it. The defense did really well. In all parts we did our jobs,”Mankey said. “Even if we messed up and they caught the ball or something we stopped them the next play. Those big plays that they had, we threw that out of our minds. We’re just playing the next play and thinking the next play.”
Central Mountain trailed by only 14 at halftime, but Williamsport’s defense made that deficit look like 114. The Wildcats went three-and-out on all four second-half possessions, gaining positive yards six times. Probst, who threw for more yards than any area passer during last year’s regular season, never had time to set up and was 0 for his last 7.
Somewhere, late Williamsport coach Tim Montgomery must have smiled his approval, watching this aggressive defense fly around.
“It makes for a long night for a very good player and that is what Mr. Probst is. He is a very good player,” Crews said. “We wanted to make sure we kept pressure on him so that we could have some success.”
That success translated to the offense as well. Griess perfectly read the defense on a 40-yard first-quarter touchdown run that put Williamsport up 7-0. He sucked in the defense with the fake before bursting outside and going down the left sideline. Two series later, a 44-yard throw to Brock Moyer set up Ian Welshans for a 1-yard touchdown and Williamsport led 14-0 at halftime.
Williamsport features four new starters along its offensive line and one of them, Charles Crews, was injured in the second quarter. Still, Joe Heim came in and played well, jelling with Splain, Beau Smith, Ethan Williamson and Reilly McCloskey as the line took over and helped pave the way for consecutive third-quarter touchdown drives that put the game away.
Williamsport gambled on a 4th-and-2 from its 43-yard line on its first third-quarter series and Freeman took it 25 yards. He capped that drive with a hard-earned 4-yard touchdown run before breaking a series of tackles on the next drive. That scoring march ended when Griess (12 of 15, 165 yards) hit Moyer in stride in the middle of the end zone. Moyer cradled the ball between two defenders as Williamsport opened a 28-point lead and gave offensive coordinator Kevin Brown, sidelined after his appendix burst early in the week, a nice tribute.
Still, Williamsport knows the schedule grows tougher starting next week against Altoona. The Millionaires are hoping what they did last night is just a start.
“This felt good,” Freeman said. “But we just want to keep working harder next time.”
Follow PA Football News on Twitter @PaFootballNews
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.