H.S. FOOTBALL: Southern Columbia defeats Shamokin
COAL TOWNSHIP - The final score of 56-0 will show the casual football fan that unbeaten Southern Columbia, as expected, had its way all over winless Shamokin Area Friday at Kemp Memorial Stadium.
The casual fan would be right - to a point.
There was no way the outmannned and outgunned Indians (0-8) were going to hang with the Tigers (8-0) all game. Believe it or not, however, they gave Southern perhaps its toughest 20 minutes or so of football this season.
"I told the kids, even though we didn't play that well for about a quarter, it was maybe a positive, because that's really
the first time all season anybody's really taken it to us," Southern head coach Jim Roth said. "Except for maybe Pius in the opener, nobody's really done that to us."
Shamokin took the opening kickoff and proceeded to hold the ball for 10 plays and drive from the 15-yard line to Southern's 29, and could have gone deeper except for a killer penalty. Early in the second quarter, still only down 7-0, Shamokin had the ball at Southern's 14 but burned itself with another penalty and the Indians later gave the Tigers two quick short field scores, first at the 26-yard line on a failed fourth down attempt, then at the 17 on a fumbled kick return. In short, Southern went from a 7-0 lead to a 28-0 lead in a span of about seven minutes.
Running a belly option attack, Shamokin quarterback Sean McLaughlin had a 22-yard run on his first carry, nearly breaking it for a touchdown, and the Indians, with the help of a Southern personal foul, moved to the Tigers' 29. McLaughlin completed a pass near the 10-yard line to Logan Mirolli but the play was wiped out by a costly 22-yard chop block penalty, and a sack pushed the Indians back to their 41. Shamokin ate up about six minutes of clock in doing so.
"The option keeps you off balance and that's what that offense is designed to do, be a neutralizer," Roth said. "It took us awhile to adapt to it but we finally did."
Southern drove 62 yards in seven plays after the punt, utilizing a no-huddle approach, with quarterback Nick Becker throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to former Indian Zach Tillett.
"We were going to do some no-huddle tonight anyway, but when it became apparent they were going to try to control the clock, we wanted to do it even more," Roth said.
The Tigers took advantage of field position and started their next possession at Shamokin's 30, but McLaughlin had a 59-yard interception return to Southern's 34-yard line.
"That was a good interception more than a bad read by Nick," Roth said. "He really read the ball well and he had some acceleration once he caught the ball."
Shamokin got to the 14 because of a facemask penalty, but went backward again with a personal foul, then killed itself with a one-yard punt.
Becker connected with Matt Lupold for a 56-yard gain with a screen pass, then scored on a 10-yard run, making it 14-0.
Southern scored on its next series on a two-yard run by Lupold, the play aided by a strange pass interference call against Shamokin, when Tucker Yost was called for the penalty when Becker's attempt hit him on the back of the helmet.
Shamokin, with nothing to lose, went for a fourth-and-one at its own 29, and didn't make it, giving Southern the ball at the 26. Becker completed passes to Luke Rarig and Cody Pavlick, the latter for a nine-yard touchdown, and the game began to get away.
It officially got away on the ensuing kickoff, when the Indians' Shane Williams returned the ball about 10 yards but then lost a fumble, giving Southern another short field at the 17. This time, Nate Hunter scored on a one-yard run and Rarig's extra point put the game into the mercy rule.
"I'm very proud of the boys," Shamokin head coach Yaacov Yisrael said. "They came out in the first quarter and really stood up. As far as the option goes, it neutralizes the game a little bit. We're starting to see glimpses of potential with some players. But because of our lack of experience and depth, we're also hurting ourselves with mistakes. If there is one thing we're going to take away from this season, it's recognizing the mental part of the game and how mistakes can hurt you."
Southern 7 28 14 7 - 56
Shamokin 0 0 0 0 - 0