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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, October 16th, 2021
As Southern Columbia built a 41-0 halftime lead against Hughesville, ultimately winning 41-7, Gavin Garcia joined an elite club of Tiger running backs. With 2:18 remaining in the opening quarter, the senior ripped off a 94-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 21-0 over the Spartans.
It was the 100th time in the Kent State commit’s career that he scored a touchdown on the ground. His older brother Gaige, who is currently a running back at Lehigh University, and former New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski, were the first two to reach the milestone in the program. Adding a third makes Southern Columbia the first school in Pennsylvania history to have three players accomplish the feat.
“I wasn’t aware until just now that I reached that milestone. To be in a club like that with my brother and Henry is really special and something I can look back on,” Garcia said. “Currently we have more important things to worry about as we are getting ready for the playoffs with a goal of winning a fifth straight PIAA championship.”
With the victory, the Tigers clinched another championship to add to their overfilled trophy case. Southern clinched the PHAC Division 3 title, but the 95th championship in total for the historic program is the least important of the ones that they hope to secure in 2021.
“Winning a PHAC Championship is more of a confidence booster for the new players that are either on the varsity team for the first time or the guys that are contributing now more than they did in the past,” said senior Jake Rose. “Ultimately, this is the least important one in our eyes. We want to add another district and then a state title later this year.”
Rose scored the first touchdown of the night just over three minutes into the game on a 25-yard pass from sophomore Blake Wise who threw three on the night. Later in the quarter, senior fullback Trevor Yorks scored on a 72-yard dash on the first play of the drive and Garcia’s long run came just over a minute later.
On Senior Night, the three touchdowns in the second quarter were also scored by seniors to put the score into the Mercy Rule at the break.
“Coming into the game it was a matter of just coming out and taking care of business. As I told the seniors, this was their last regular season home game, but they can return here in the playoffs if we take care of business these next two weeks. Having all of the touchdowns scored by seniors on a night where they played their final regular season game at home was pretty neat,” Southern head coach Jim Roth said.
Senior running back Matt Masala started it off with an 18-yard touchdown grab and Garcia scored for a second time on a 54-yard screen pass. The final touchdown of the half came on another 1-play drive when Yorks took it in on a carry of 49 yards.
“It was senior night which meant we knew we wanted to play strong. I think we definitely balled out. Being able to add another conference championship was the cherry on top,” said Yorks.
However, the win didn’t come without more injuries for a Tiger team that simply can’t catch a break. Masala, who is filling in for injured junior Braeden Wisloski who has been out with a broken bone in his ankle, suffered an ankle injury of his own just before the half.
Already down senior starting quarterback Liam Klebon, junior fullback Wes Barnes, and a handful of other key guys, it continues to be the next man up approach for SCA.
“We haven’t had much luck with these injuries this season, and it appears we suffered a couple of more here tonight. Hopefully Matt (Masala) gets better news than what it appears once he gets checked out,” Roth said.
The majority of the injuries have come on the offensive side of the ball, and the starting defense has continued to dominate over the past two games after struggling in a week six loss to Wyomissing. Neither Hughesville nor Central Columbia last Friday were able to collect a first down in the first half.
As SCA’s offense accounted for 409 yards in the first half on 25 plays against the Spartans, the defensive unit for the Tigers held Hughesville to negative-36 yards on 18 plays.
Garrett Garcia joined his brother in the ‘100’ category at Tiger Stadium. The sophomore linebacker eclipsed the century mark for tackles on the year. In doing so, he got there quicker than any other player in program history during a season.
Having the Garcia brothers has been something that has worked quite nicely for the Tiger program starting in the youth program and then in junior high. Starting with Gaige’s PIAA records (rushing and overall touchdowns), to Gavin going for the state record for career yards per carry, and now Garrett on pace to break Michigan State linebacker Cal Haladay’s program record for tackles, they are being counted on now more than ever in the absence of some injured teammates.
“Gavin has been outstanding since his first carry as a freshman and I know he is looking forward to closing out his career with another state title,” said Roth. “Garrett has high goals of trying to set tackling records in our program and the more games you get in the postseason, the better the opportunity.”
On defense, seniors Derek Berlitz and Mike Zsido each recorded a sack in the win. Sophomore defensive end Colden Bloom had two sacks in his first ever start.
Hughesville (1-7) will host Loyalsock next week. Southern (7-1) is set to travel to Selinsgrove.
Hughesville 0 0 0 7 — 7
Southern 21 20 0 0 — 41
S — Jake Rose 25 pass from Wise (Isaac Carter kick), 8:30
S — Trevor Yorks 72 run (Carter kick), 3:45
S — Gavin Garcia 94 run (Carter kick), 2:18
S — Matt Masala 18 pass from Wise (Carter kick), 10:17
S — Garcia 54 pass from Wise (Carter kick), 6:12
S — Trevor Yorks 49 run (missed kick), 3:35
H — Kelby Gordner 5 run (Josh Heiney kick), 1:38
First downs 4 19
Rushing-yds. 26-52 26-334
Passing 9-20-0 3-6-0
Passing yds. 65 97
Total yds. 117 431
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-yds. 2-10 4-50
RUSHING — Southern: Gavin Garcia 8-166, TD; Trevor Yorks 7-128, 2 TD’s; Matt Masala 4-19; Carter Madden 3-12; Gavin Krebs 2-7; Mike Zsido 1-6; Louden Murphy 1-(-4). Hughesville: Aiden Barlett 6-41; Kelby Gordner 2-37, TD; Mason Hoppes 1-3; Joey Swink 1-1; Brenden Knight 8-0; Gabe Wagner 4-(-5); Luke Kaiser 2-(-6); Team 2-(-19).
PASSING — Southern: Blake Wise 3-6-0, 97 yds, 3 TD’s. Hughesville: Tyler Wetzel 2-4-0, 37 yds; Luke Kaiser 7-15-0, 28 yds; Brenden Knight 0-1-0.
RECEIVING — Southern: Gavin Garcia 1-54, TD; Jake Rose 1-25, TD; Matt Masala 1-18, TD. Hughesville: Joey Swink 3-53; Brenden Knight 1-4; Angelo Ferrigno 3-3; Aiden Barlett 1-3; Jediah Webb 1-2.
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