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Shamokin tops Loyalsock in D4 quarterfinals

Brett R. Crossley

For the past two seasons the Shamokin Indians have produced 1-9 records. Saturday, the #5 Indians defeated #4 Loyalsock 39-7 in the District IV Class AAA quarterfinals at Loyalsock’s Kenneth M. Robbins Stadium.

“It just goes to show the heart and desire of the kids,” said first-year head coach Henry Hynoski. “We preach it all year long about a new culture, a new mindset, and a new attitude. It started in the weight room and took off from there and we’re clicking right now at the right time.”

Things started off well for the Lancers on their opening drive. With the return of quarterback Connor Watkins, the senior went to Gerald Ross on the very first play of the game. Following a run by Chase Cavanaugh and personal foul by Shamoin the Lancers had the ball at the Indian 30. Runs by Cavanaugh, Watkins and Cavanaugh moved the ball do to the six where Watkins connected with Ross again, this time of the score with 8:37 left in the opening quarter.

From that point on, however, it was all Shamokin.

The Indians called upon freshman running back Max Madden early and often, he finished with a game-high 199 yards on 34 carries, to get the Indians down inside Loyalsock territory at the 23. Two more runs, one by Madden and the other by Nathan Miller got the ball down to the 10 where Collin Bowers hit Blake Kane for the score with 2 seconds left.

The Lancers blocked the following extra point to hold on to a slim 7-6 lead, but that would be the last time the Indians would trail.

Shamokin’s defense prevented Watkins and the Lancers’ offense from kicking into gear the remainder of the night. After punting back to Shamokin, the Indians picked up where they left off and kept hitting the Lancers with big plays. Shamokin also took advantage of multiple Lancer penalties, notably a pass interference penalty, to move down to the Lancer 17. From there Bowers finish the drive with a QB sneak after getting down to the one. Bowers came up short on the two-point conversion try, but led 12-7 with 5:58 left in the first half.

The Indians added one more score before the half ended. Runs by Matt Schiccatano, Bowers, and Madden, along with another pass interference penalty of Loyalsock, moved the ball down to the 13. Back-to-back runs by Madden moved the ball down to the 5. From there, Bowers threw his second TD, this time to Miller to put the Indians up 18-7 with just 15 seconds remaining.

The third quarter came and went without either team finding the end zone. As the fourth started both teams traded drives. On the Indians’ second drive the Indians kept feeding Madden. Eventually the freshman broke off a 48-yard run just under the 8:00 mark to increase the Indians’ lead to 25-7.

Loyalsock finally found a little bit of life after Shamokin’s latest touchdown. Watkins unleashed a bomb to Jaiden Cioffi to the Indian 37, but the little momentum that had was soon erased as Bowers picked off Watkins on the very next play and returned it 73 yards to the house for a touchdown. With 6:54 remaining the Indians built their lead to 32-7.

Shamokin found the end zone once more on the evening on their following drive. After back-to-back Watkins passes fell incomplete on 3rd and 4th downs the Indians took over at the Loyalsock 28. This time Mark Wetzel capped the drive for the Indians to make it 39-7.

“We wanted to move the ball right away in the second half but we weren’t able to do that,” Hynoski continued. “Other than that we played pretty flawlessly. It starts with the guys up front. Martin, Wetzel and out tight ends blocking. That long run (by Madden) sealed it, and that was one of the most magnificent interceptions I’ve ever seen. From that point on it was all about controlling the clock and running it out.”

Bowers finished the night 3-for-6 for 52 yards passing and also picked up 46 yards on the ground on 12 carries. Wetzel added 17 yards to the Indians’ 291 yards on the ground and Miller finished with 17 on 5 attempts. Kane, Schiccatano and Miller all caught passes from Bowers with Kane’s being the longest at 10 yards.

Next up for the Indians is a rematch with Danville on Saturday, November 10. Shamokin fell to Danville 47-14 back in week 8 of the regular season.

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