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Dragons breathe fire on Stingers with five unanswered touchdowns @PLRedDragons @MCStingersFB

Written by: on Sunday, September 19th, 2021

 

Purchase Line’s senior running back Brady Syster contributed two touchdowns to the Dragons’ final score, including an interception return (above). RAY KAUFFMAN PHOTO.

After a heartbreaking loss to the West Shamokin Wolves last Friday, the Dragons were ready to rock the field against the Marion Center Stingers, Friday September 17, and this was exactly what they did. With a score of 49-13, the Red Dragons defeated the Stingers and held them to no touchdowns in the first half. Racking up 117 rushing yards and 150 passing, Purchase Line stunned Marion Center with the way everything clicked into place.

Despite the high score, things started out slow. Purchase Line’s kick was returned to the 30-yard line, where Marion Center’s offense took the field. The Stingers jumped offsides on the next play and were moved back five yards. After runs by seniors Xavier Vaglia and T.J. Lynn, along with an incomplete pass that was broken up by Purchase Line’s junior Andrew Beer, the Stingers were held to a three-and-out.

On the second play of Red Dragon offense, the ball was handed off to senior Brady Syster at his own 47-yard line. Syster took the ball up the right side and outran the entirety of the Marion Center defense to the endzone. This would-be touchdown was unfortunately called back due to an illegal block in the backfield, which led to the punt team taking over a few plays later. However, the snap was too high, and although Syster tried to escape with the ball, the Stingers’ return team surrounded him at his own 25. The Dragons had no problem changing that when they stopped the Stingers on fourth down at the 28-yard line.

Two unsuccessful run attempts led to a big third down that Purchase Line’s sophomore quarterback John Elick and Beer were prepared for. The two connected at the 36-yard line and Beer took the ball just short of the first down marker. Elick and the offensive line took care of the rest with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Two plays later, Elick hit senior Mello Sanchez across midfield at the 33-yard line and escaped to the left of three Marion Center defenders for a 53-yard touchdown. This duo struck again on the conversion play, making the score 8-0 with close to four minutes left in the first quarter.

The Stingers still couldn’t get their offense going, so the punt team showed up after a quick three-and-out. On the play, the ball was mishandled and kicked out of bounds a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. After the Dragons took over, senior Jayce Brooks moved the Dragons up ten yards, followed by short bursts from Brooks, Syster and Elick to combine for another. A few plays later, Beer and Elick secured another first down as the clock ran out. The first quarter ended with the Dragons up by eight and the Stingers fighting their way to get on the board.

Beer caught another of his quarterback’s passes just short of the endzone, leaving Elick to cap the drive on a 1-yard touchdown, two minutes into the second quarter. The Dragons were then up 14-0 on the Stingers. Almost as soon as the Stingers took the ball back, it was gone again. Syster intercepted Marion Center quarterback Ty Ryen at the 34-yard line and returned it for a touchdown that made the score 20-0. Despite Vaglia, Ryen, and Lynn all taking part in the Stingers’ next series, all four attempts came up short of the first down marker.

The Dragons took over and immediately put on a show. Elick launched a 61-yard bomb to Sanchez to score another Purchase Line touchdown and make the score 26-0. On Marion Center’s next drive, Ryen passed to senior Brady Tonkin at the 48, followed by a quarterback keeper for the first down. As soon as the Stingers found their success, they lost it. Ryen passed the ball to Tonkin, but it bounced off of his hands and right into those of Sanchez. This is where the defense in green found their footing, holding the Dragons to a three-and-out and forcing out the punt team.

Syster’s punt bounced at the 28 and right over the head of the Marion Center receiver, who could not get ahold of the ball. Purchase Line’s punt team arrived on the scene and sophomore Austin Chambers recovered the ball at the Marion Center 2-yard line, paving the way for Elick’s 2-yard touchdown on the next play and Syster’s conversion. Purchase Line held strong once again as the half ended and kept Marion Center from the endzone. The score at the end of the second quarter was 34-0, Purchase Line.

The Red Dragons started the second half off with a bang. Sanchez returned Marion Center’s kick for an 89-yard touchdown. Sanchez also had a hand in the conversion with Elick, increasing Purchase Line’s lead, 42-0. However, the Stingers did show potential on their next drive. Ryen immediately took to the air, hitting Lynn with a lateral pass, which led to a first down. Ryen connected with Tonkin a few plays later, and finished that first down off himself with a run. Another pass to the five put Vaglia in the position to cap the drive with a 3-yard touchdown. This put Marion Center on the board, after about a half-quarter drive, 42-6.

Syster opened Purchase Line’s first offensive drive of the fourth quarter with a 33-yard touchdown. Along with the extra point kick, the score was 49-6. A little less than four minutes later, Marion Center was driving down the field. Ryen passed the ball from midfield to the 11-yard line where Lynn was able to make the 39-yard catch. On the next play, Ryen rolled left and locked in Tonkin in the endzone for 11-yards. Purchase Line was able to run the clock out for the rest of the quarter. The final score of the game was 49-13.

Elick said, “We practiced really hard this week and we knew what we needed to do. Our coaches put us in the right position to make the right plays and we executed. We need to just keep playing our game and remain mistake free as we did this week.”

Syster concluded, “What I think caused us all to click was the feeling we had over losing last week. We took to practice and went hard all week long. We didn’t want that feeling of loss again. I think knowing what we’re capable of doing will help us keep rolling throughout the season.” He went on, “Huge props to the offensive line. If they keep that up, I’m not sure if teams will be able to stop us.”

Purchase Line Head Coach Matthew Falisec said, “I’m very proud of the team and the way they played tonight. We got the momentum early and never took our foot off the pedal. We played a complete game of football with many contributors and this is a huge step going forward.”

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