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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, October 9th, 2021
Southern Columbia was expecting to leave Central Columbia with the only state record left that their historic program didn’t yet hold. Unfortunately, the 4-time defending PIAA Class 2A champions came up one win shy of tying the state’s all-time consecutive wins mark last Friday.
This week, the Tigers found their mojo again and took out their anger on the Blue Jays in shutout fashion 49-0.
“We were definitely upset with the way last week went. It was disappointing being the group that ended such a long overall and regular season winning streak,” said SCA senior Gavin Garcia. “This was the first time we ever played in a game after a loss because we hadn’t lost before in our careers.”
The senior running back continued his stellar season by adding four more touchdowns to his resume and is now up to 23 total touchdowns on the year in seven games.
He scored two of SCA’s three touchdowns in the first and second quarter, and the Tiger defense played the part of the bully as the visitors put the game into the Mercy Rule 42-0 by half.
“It was good to see our defense come out and execute from the beginning. The same can be said from the offensive side of the ball. Without any player on this team ever experiencing a loss before last week, you didn’t know how they would respond. To their credit, they responded very well,” Southern head coach Jim Roth said.
The Blue Jays have struggled all season on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers certainly exploited their weaknesses. Offensively, Central has a two-quarterback platoon that they have been using with juniors Greyson Shaud and Logan Welkom. Neither has thrown a touchdown pass yet this season.
The Tigers are familiar with Shaud as he was a member of the program last year before transferring to Central in the middle of the season, and Southern didn’t allow their former teammate to have any sort of success. Shaud completed three passes, but each one went for negative yardage.
In total, Southern’s starting defense limited Central throughout the entirety of the first half. After each of the Tiger touchdowns, the defense didn’t give up a first down. In fact, from a yardage perspective, the Blue Jays would have been better off punting on first down each possession as the Tigers pushed them back 31 yards in the wrong direction on the 18 offensive plays they ran in the first half.
On the Tigers first six offensive possessions, they marched down the field on an average of under five plays per drive and scored touchdowns on all of them after getting favorable field position courtesy of their defense and the subpar punting from the opposition.
“This was a good bounce back game to work on things and regroup as a team and regain some confidence. The competition level wasn’t near that of Wyomissing’s from last week, but we got great effort out of all of our guys from the starters down through the backup players,” said senior defensive end Derek Berlitz.
In addition to the dominance on defense, Roth was happy to see his new starting quarterback, sophomore Blake Wise, bounce back after a rough outing in his first career start which included four interceptions and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. After being thrown into as tough of a situation as a rookie will face on less than a week’s notice last Friday, fans could see the growth in his confidence over the past seven days.
“At any point where you have a new quarterback, especially when they aren’t getting the starting reps in practice, it is important to ease him in. Blake (Wise) would have liked to have some of the throws back that he threw last week, but it was a combination of mistakes that weren’t all on him. We made some mistakes in pass protection up front and some of the routes were off because of timing,” said Roth. “We wanted to get his confidence back this week even if we didn’t throw many passes with the lopsided score. He performed well with what he was asked to do.”
Wise completed all four of his passes for 43 yards in his first win as the starter. Two of those connections came on a 6-yard pass to Garcia and a 7-yarder to senior Jake Rose for his first two career touchdown passes.
“I was happy with the way this game went. We all came out ready and the cards fell into place. I felt more comfortable, and the line did a great job with executing assignments. We don’t want to have a one-sided offense of just running, so having success with passing is very important,” Wise said.
Central (2-5) will travel to Selinsgrove on Friday to try and show improvement on both sides of the ball with a roster made of mostly underclassmen.
“I have always admired Coach (Jim) Roth and his program for a variety of reasons. They don’t worry about who the competition is, they just come out and physically dominate you. They play with a chip on their shoulder every week and are exactly the success we are trying emulate as we try to close the gap with our players,” said Central head coach Scott Dennis.
Southern (6-1) is now 97-2 overall in their last 99 games and Garcia is up to 99 career rushing touchdowns as the Tigers will return home next week to host Hughesville at Jim Roth Field.
“This win hopefully helped to put the loss last week behind us as we look towards the playoffs coming up. Hopefully Braeden (Wisloski) and Wes (Barnes) can get healthy here soon and return to the backfield with me. We also were happy to see Blake (Wise) have success as he will be our quarterback from here on out,” Garcia said.
Southern 21 – 21 – 0 – 7 — 49
Central 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 0
S — Trevor Yorks 29 run (Isaac Carter kick), 8:43
S — Gavin Garcia 6 pass from Blake Wise (Carter kick), 4:58
S — Garcia 1 run (Carter kick), 1:17
S — Jake Rose 7 pass from Wise (Carter kick), 10:52
S — Garcia 40 run (Carter kick), 9:03
S — Garcia 15 run (Carter kick), 5:00
S — Carter Madden 2 run (Carter kick), 4:33
Southern – Central
First downs 22 – 3
Rushing-yds. 35-347 – 24-57
Passing 4-4-0 – 8-12-1
Passing yds. 44 – 88
Total yds. 391 – 145
Fumbles-lost 1-0 – 1-0
Penalties-yds. 3-15 – 5-31
RUSHING — Southern: Gavin Garcia 10-131, 3 TD’s; Trevor Yorks 7-79, TD; Louden Murphy 3-49; Matt Masala 5-44; Carter Madden 4-26, TD; Gavin Krebs 5-11; Blake Wise 1-7. Central: Eli Book 3-43; Austin Rainier 12-7; Logan Welkom 4-7; Aiden Huntington 2-7; Ryan Hons 1-(-3); Greyson Shaud 2-(-4).
PASSING — Southern: Blake Wise 4-4-0, 43 yds, 2 TD’s. Central: Ryan Hons 4-5-1, 64 yds; Logan Welkom 1-4-0, 29 yds; Greyson Shaud 3-3-0, (-5) yards.
RECEIVING — Southern: Jake Rose 2-24, TD; Gavin Garcia 1-6, TD; Jake Hoy 1-13. Central: Cole Bradley 2-49; Eli Book 1-29; Jaxson Hoffman 1-12; Aiden Huntington 1-3; Austin Rainier 1-(-1); Dylan Gregory 2-(-4).
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