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Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, October 10th, 2020
The Muncy Indians used a tough and tenacious defense that got better as the game wore on to thwart the Northwest Rangers 21-13 last night at Stanley F. Schuyler Memorial Stadium in Muncy. After the Rangers drove 89 yards on their initial possession to open the scoring in the first quarter, the Muncy ‘D’ didn’t allow another Northwest score. In fact, the Indians stopped the Rangers on all five of their fourth down attempts including the last four Northwest drives of the game. The home team defense also forced two turnovers, the second of which led to Muncy’s last score.
Muncy’s coach Sean Tetreault had this to say about the game, “Our kids overcame a lot of adversity this week. It was great to see them on the field playing physical, playing with Northwest and Northwest is always a very physical team. Our defense stepped up all game. I made the biggest coaching mistake in the world at the end of the fourth quarter there, but our defense picked me up. It was great to see them play great team football.”
Actually, Northwest Area’s defense stepped it up and played extremely well in the second half holding Muncy to a total of 18 yards and scoring a touchdown of their own. Losing coach Lon Hazlet said, “It’s not for a lack of effort, my kids are playing extremely hard. We’re making mistakes when we can’t, whether they be penalties or turnovers. We’re not executing at times when we need to.”
The game couldn’t have started any better for the Rangers as they forced a Muncy punt on the opening possession of the game. Then beginning at their own 11, marched down field in only 7 plays, and scored on Carter Hontz’s 26-yard quarterback draw. Matt Foley booted the extra point and just like that Northwest led 7-0 at the 5:19 mark of the first quarter. Northwest made it look so easy, but the rest of the night turned out to be so very frustrating for the Ranger offense.
Branson Eyer brought the home crowd to life by returning the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, but a penalty nullified the nice return. That didn’t seem to phase the Indians as they methodically drove 40 yards to tie the game. Facing fourth and a yard at the Ranger 6, Ty Nixon took a pitch from the QB and gained the yard plus five more putting Muncy on the board. Loudon Boring nailed his first of 3 PATs to tie the game with 59 seconds left in quarter one.
Northwest picked up where they left off on their first drive and went 58 yards on four plays to the Muncy 9, but disaster struck and the Indians’ defense started to come to life. A penalty and a bad snap put the ball back on the 31. Then a screen pass to George May and a penalty sandwiched around an incomplete pass found the ball at the 8. Electing to forego a field goal attempt, the Northwest coaching staff called a pass play and Hontz tossed a pass into the end zone that went incomplete.
It took the Indians only five plays to take the lead. Facing a third and three at the 27, Branson Eyer lofted a pass to cousin Ross Eyer who hauled it in and outraced defenders for a 73-yard touchdown with 6:28 remaining in the half. “He’s a big play receiver,” stated Tetreault, “he had 12 catches last year and scored on 7 of those.”
Muncy, who by the way is ranked #7 in single A by PFN, now had the momentum. They forced a punt and drove 56 yards to the Ranger 26, before fumbling the ball away with a little over a minute on the second quarter clock as George May recovered for the Rangers. NW was content to run out the clock and go into the half trailing 14-7.
The Rangers began the second half by driving to the Indian 32. Then Branson Eyer made a brilliant play stepping in front of the intended receiver at the last second to pick off Hontz’s pass. But momentum swung back to the Rangers when they force a Muncy punt and the ball was hiked over the punter’s head. When he picked the ball up in the end zone and attempted to quickly kick it with pressure all around, he appeared to muff it and Tommy Bierly picked the rolling ball up at the one and stepped across the goal line for the Northwest touchdown. The point after was missed and Muncy clung to a 14-13 lead at the 8:06 mark of the third.
On the first play from scrimmage after Northwest forced another punt, the Rangers fumbled and Paul Pepper recovered for the Indians at the Northwest 37. The momentum now did a u-turn and switched back to Muncy. After Nixon ran twice for 31 yards and a penalty put the ball at the 3, Ethan Gush scored to put the home team up by eight, 21-13 with 4:40 on the third period clock.
This is where the Muncy defense really came to life in stopping potential threats 4 straight times on fourth down and each one was in their territory or very close to midfield. The last opportunity for Northwest came about when as Coach Tetreault tells it, “I messed up with time outs and where we were on the field. I put the kids in a bad situation and the kids picked me up. It was great.” Muncy had the ball at the Northwest 44 with 1:47 left, but took 2 knees and Northwest took their last 2 timeouts. Then the quarterback lost more yards on a scramble before another bad snap forced the punter to intentionally ground the ball. Now the Rangers amazingly had a first down at the Indian 35 with 1:22 still on the clock. Three plays later, Northwest faced a 4th and 3. The subsequent desperation pass fell incomplete and a sigh of relief was heard from the home side of the field.
The game was very physical and each side fed off of that emotionally. Along with that emotion usually comes a lack of discipline. That is what happened as Muncy was penalized 10 times for 112 yards and Northwest was flagged 11 times for 98 yards. Besides the Muncy kickoff return for a touchdown being called back, Northwest had a TD pass negated by a penalty in the second half.
Northwest did outgain Muncy 287 to 213. The Rangers also had the leading ball carrier in the game, George May, who ran for 144 yards on 19 carries. “He’s a great kid. George runs hard. He runs downhill. We’re glad he’s with us. He’s one of the best kids I have ever coached,” commented Hazlet.
Nixon had 97 yards on 20 carries for Muncy. Branson Eyer was 7 for 15 passing for 130 yards and the TD. Muncy upped their record to 5-0 and Northwest fell to 3-2. Next week Muncy is at Canton in a big showdown and Northwest hosts Line Mountain.
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