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Warriors easily cruise past Athens

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette Montoursville players congratulate teammate Jacob Reeder, 22, on a touchdown in the second quarter against Athens on Saturday.

As Jacob Reeder took the pitch toward the right side, a cavernous hole opened up. He burst through it and Montoursville grabbed a lead it never relinquished just two plays into Saturday’s District 4 Class AAA quarterfinal.

It did not really matter who touched the ball or whether Montoursville ran or passed last night. Nearly everything the Warriors did worked because the players who toil in anonymity kept performing their jobs so well. Offensive linemen Joey Rogers, Travis Johnson, Paden Frey, Jacob Stoner, Will Carson and Cameron Livermore dominated the line of scrimmage at Memorial Stadium as Montoursville scored 43 first-half points and cruised to a 50-8 win against Athens.

Hunter Shearer threw for 183 yards and four touchdowns, Jaxon Dalena caught two scores and Reeder ran for two as Montoursville (9-2) earned its sixth semifinal appearance in seven seasons and a date against Lewisburg back at home next Saturday. Behind every big play was a lineman delivering a key block.

“We know that in playoffs it’s different. We really need to get movement up front if we want to be successful,” Rogers said. “Our chemistry together is good. We’ve had same line combination for the last couple weeks. That helps a lot knowing the guy next to you is going to pick up where you left off.”

“They did a nice job up front right away. We came out and were physical right away and I was pleased with our intensity. ,” Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. “The second play of the game they spring Reeder for a touchdown and that set us up for some explosive plays down the field.”

Shearer connected with Dalena on scoring plays of 32 and 37 yards, Cole Ranck on a 5-yarder and Wyatt Nettling on a 40-yarder late in the first half that inflicted the mercy rule while building a 43-8 lead. Montoursville totaled 304 first-half yards, scoring on its first five possessions. The Warriors scored on five of their first 17 plays, averaging a whopping 13.2 yards per play as the line blew open big holes and overwhelmed Athens at the point of attack.

Wyatt DeWald ran for 64 yards and his 15-yard third-quarter touchdown run capped the scoring. At that point, the line helped Montoursville gain at least five yards on 20 of its 27 plays.

“We felt like we needed to come out to play good football and send a message, not necessarily for this week, but to build on for next week,” defensive end Cameron Wood said. “We controlled the line of scrimmage well.”

That was true defensively, too. Wood had two of Montoursville’s six sacks and, minus a late-first quarter scoring drive, the Warriors stifled everything Athens tried. The Wildcats gained 72 of their 36 yards on that drive. On its other 49 plays, Athens averaged 73 yards. The linebackers flowed well, the defensive line constantly was in quarterback Kaden Rude’s face and Isaiah Fenner set up Montoursville’s last-second, second-quarter touchdown with an interception.

Despite playing without two starters, the Warriors plowed through Athens and limited it to minus-15 second-half yards. Ranck had 1 1/2 sacks, C.J. Signor made three tackles for loss and 11 of Athens 18 second-half plays either lost yards or gained no yards.

“We were a little short-handed with two starters missing, so it was plugging in some younger guys and having some older guys stepping up and playing well,” Keefer said. “Coming off the game last week where they basically won us the game, I was pleased with the effort they had with some missing pieces. All-around, it was a solid game.”

Montoursville and Lewisburg will be meeting in the postseason for the fifth time in seven seasons and two of those games have been decided in the final minute.

“Coming off last year, it’s great to be in the playoffs and moving on,” Rogers said. “We just have to get better at what we do.”

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