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Warriors roll past Lancers to win Battle of the Bridge

Written by: on Saturday, September 21st, 2019

 

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Montoursville’s Logan Ott and Cameron Wood celebrate Wood’s touchdown during the game against Loyalsock at Kenneth M. Robbins Stadium on Friday for the Battle of the Bridge trophy.


Dylan Bennett charged through the line, wrapped his arms, hit dynamic running back Davion Hill hard and dropped him for a 1-yard loss. The game’s first play Friday night at Kenneth Robbins Stadium basically told the entire story. A similar scene was repeated throughout the game, different Warriors making big impacts and sending Loyalsock backward.

Montoursville has delivered some spectacular defensive performances over the years and this one ranked near the top. The offense was outstanding, too. Rocco Pulizzi ran for 120 yards, Bennett and Cameron Wood caught touchdowns and the line owned the action up front. But it was defense that stole the show and kept the Bridge firmly in Montoursville’s grasp.

Wood had two sacks, Jacob Reeder and Dylan Moll intercepted passes and every part of the Warrior defensive machine hummed perfectly together in a dominant 41-6 win over rival Loyalsock. The Warriors (5-0, 2-0 HAC-II) remained undefeated, took the Battle of the Bridge Trophy for a second straight year and moved into sole possession of first place in the HAC-II. They also looked mighty fearsome, holding Loyalsock to just 63 yards, its lowest offensive output since 2011.

“We wanted to come out and make a statement tonight. We wanted to prove a point,” Wood said. “They are a tough team and have some really good players but we thought we could dominate if we played the way we’re capable of.”

“They just did a phenomenal job over there. That’s what they do. That’s what we work on, that’s what we coach,” Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. “It’s just really good kids understanding our concepts and doing what we do.”

What Montoursville did last night was make life miserable for an explosive Loyalsock team that had scored 106 points during a three-game winning streak. The Warriors held Loyalsock to fewer than two yards per play and Loyalsock’s only score came after Dane Armson returned an interception to the 11-yard line, setting up Chase Cavanaugh’s 1-yard touchdown run that made it 17-6 late in the second quarter. White jerseys filled lanes, stormed the backfield, blanketed receivers and put on a clinic. It was the kind of performance that would make Bill Belichick smile because every player did his job.

Hill broke off a 31-yard first-quarter run and Aiden Gair caught a 34-yard second-quarter pass. Take those two plays away and Loyalsock managed minus-2 yards on its 33 other plays. Montoursville went into overdrive in the second half, limiting Loyalsock to minus-19 yards on 12 plays, the first five which produced minus-25 yards and a Moll interception that set up a touchdown. Wood (2 sacks, 5 tackles for loss) was unblockable at times, while Bennett and fellow linebackers Logan Balouris and CJ Signor stifled both the run and pass. Reeder and Moll then erased the district’s leading receiver Rees Watkins (22 catches, 500 yards, 6 touchdowns) holding him without a catch and letting him be targeted just three times.

Loyalsock ran 12 second-half plays and only two gained positive yards, both gaining three yards. Moll ended that first series and three straight losses that totaled minus-22 yards ended another, setting up a Logan Ott to Dillon Young 22-yard touchdown that ended the game’s competitive phase and gave Montoursville a 34-6 third-quarter lead. Cavanaugh entered the game with 823 passing yards, but constantly was under pressure and completed 3 of 8 passes for a career-low 39 yards.

“Even if our defense can’t score the points itself, it can still get our offense hyped up with a turnover,” Reeder said after also running for 58 yards and closing out the scoring with an electric 20-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run. “Our (his and Moll’s) mindset was to not let him (Watkins) get anything. Our goal was zero catches and we hit that goal. It makes life so much easier because they had so many designed passes but they weren’t able to get them off because our d-line had so many rushes.”

Montoursville’s special teams shined as well. Ian Plankenhorn kicked two field goals and his District 4-best 47-yarder as time expired gave Montoursville a 20-6 halftime lead. He and Colin Gorini consistently had Loyalsock trying to navigate long fields. And the way Montoursville was playing defense, it might have felt like Loyalsock needed telescopes to see the end zone as the game progressed. Armson’s interception late in the second quarter gave Loyalsock life and its defense held on Montoursville’s first third-quarter possession. Moll, though, outjumped Watkins two plays later and Ott’s 1-yard touchdown six runs later put Montoursville up, 27-6.

“Our mindset coming out of halftime was just to put it to them,” Reeder said. “We didn’t want them thinking they could come back. That was the goal and they didn’t.”

Bennett set up Montoursville’s second touchdown with a highlight-reel catch. Hunter Shearer hit Cameron Wood for a 23-yard score on Montoursville’s series, but Loyalsock was a play from forcing a punt on its second possession.

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