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Montoursville cruises past Shamokin

Written by: on Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

 

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Montoursville’s Dillon Young pulls in a touchdown pass in the first half against Shamokin at Montoursville on Friday night.

What once looked like a lost season is becoming a memorable one.

Senior lineman Cole Ranck is back. And an already imposing offensive line is growing even stronger.

Ranck battled a stomach injury for much of the season, but made his first start a week ago and was part of an offensive line that dominated Friday night at Memorial Stadium as Montoursville opened its District 4 Class AAA title defense with an impressive 42-0 quarterfinal win against Shamokin. The Warriors (10-1) earned a spot against Warrior Run in next Friday’s semifinals, scored on their first four possessions and played stifling defense while recording their fifth shutout.

Hunter Shearer threw for 119 yards, Rocco Pulizzi scored twice and Dillon Young caught a touchdown while adding an interception to set up a third-quarter touchdown. It sure helped having Ranck back, too. The versatile lineman combined with Jacob Stoner, Travis Johnson, Will Carson and Hunter Hanna to help Montoursville score 28 first-half points and average 15.6 yards per play in those first two quarters.

“It feels really good just to be able to play with my brothers again after being out for so long. I was getting so mad at it and it was rough,” Ranck said. “I’m putting weight back on and everything is starting to go smoothly right now.”

Ranck played all over a year ago, sometimes helping out up front and also totaling 302 yards and four touchdowns. Having him back adds depth, experience and strength. He played a major role in all four first-half scoring drives as Montoursville quickly delivered a knockout blow against a dangerous Shamokin team that was 15 yards from beating Mount Carmel the previous week.

“It’s so much nicer being back out there again,” Ranck said. “We have a lot of people that can rotate in for other people so it’s nice that we can have competition up front. That way people are trying their hardest to play well all the time.”

“We have had Cole the last three years so it was a big loss for us, not having him out there,” linebacker CJ Signor said after making 10 tackles and forcing an interception. “We missed having him in the huddle and since he’s back now it feels really good.”

Montoursville looked mighty good, building off some outstanding practices throughout the week. Dylan Moll took a jet sweep 44 yards through a gaping hole on Montoursville’s first play, making it 7-0 and the Warriors nearly made it 2 for 2 when Shearer started the next drive with a 64-yard pass to Cameron Wood. Four plays later, Logan Ott scored from a yard out. The Warriors took a longer road the next time they touched the ball, but kept moving at will.

Two plays after hitting Ott for a 10-yard gain on a 4th-and-3, Shearer dropped a dime and found Young for a 19-yard touchdown. It was back to rapid fire less than two minutes later when Rocco Pulizzi burst through a big hole on the right side and went 45 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-0. Shearer went 7 for 7 and went over 1,000 yards for a third straight year on his touchdown throw. Pulizzi scored again in the third quarter and Heath Jones capped the scoring with a 9-yard fourth-quarter touchdown as Montoursville delivered a performance as complete as it was dominant.

“It was easier for me to sell because you could throw 3-7 out. They are physical and have some athletes and did a great job against Mount Carmel so our guys were ready and scoring right away was big,” Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. “We score quick and they’re a grind it out kind of team and it’s kind of like, ‘if we’re down 2-3 touchdowns, what are we going to do?’ That plays into the whole mentality of it all.”

The defense was as stingy as the offense was efficient. Signor played his best game this season, while Dylan Bennett made seven tackles and added an interception that set up the Jones touchdown. Will Carson, Cameron Wood and Ryan Keen shined up front and Logan Balouris made some big plays early. It was the defense, too, that dropped the hammer in the third quarter and helped bring the mercy rule into play.

Signor, who made eight first-half tackles, was in on a sack and made a tackle for a loss. His best play, though, does not show up in the stats.

Shamokin drove to Montoursville’s 33-yard line and faced a fourth-and-three. Quarterback Nathan Grimes rolled right and Signor, the weakside linebacker on the play, chased him down halfway across the field. Keen forced Grimes to step into the pocket and when he did, Signor delivered a perfectly timed hit that forced a hurried pass. Young intercepted it at the 26 and returned it 63 yards to the Shamokin 11. Two plays later, Pulizzi scored from five yards out and Montoursville led 35-0.

“There were only two of us in the box and he rolled out. I peeped back and saw that the other backer couldn’t force so I went to fill his spot. I saw the quarterback and I went after it,” Signor said. “We just came out every day at practice and went over stuff over and over again and it carried over.”

Montoursville is hoping that is a formula which continues working. The Warriors earned a rematch against Warrior Run, a team that gave its toughest game through the season’s first eight weeks. Montoursville won 28-7 seven weeks ago, but it was a one-score game in the fourth quarter and the Warriors know that Warrior Run is surging at the perfect time as the rematch draws closer.

“Warrior Run is a really good football team. This (Shamokin win) is done. It is all about Warrior Run right now,” Keefer said. “We’re approaching this game like we lost the last time. It’s going to be a heck of a game.”

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