Spartans advance in EC
FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - After qualifying for the District 11 Class AA playoffs the last four years, playing in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season was a step down for North Schuylkill.
With a championship trophy to play for and the Spartans jumped into the opportunity with both feet Friday with a 65-19 rout of Wilkes-Barre Meyers Friday at Spartan Stadium in a conference semifinal playoff game.
With the win, North Schuylkill will play the winner of tonight's Carbondale-at-Palisades semifinal in the championship game next weekend.
North Schuylkill (8-3) laid into its opponent on the opening kickoff when Ethan Motsney found a hole up the middle for an 85-yard touchdown return and a 6-0 lead just seven seconds into the game.
That score was the first of eight unanswered scores for the Spartans, who ran only nine offensive plays in the first quarter, but scored six touchdowns to build a 42-0 lead.
The onslaught continued into the second quarter. The Spartans scored on a safety and two more touchdowns to build a 58-0 lead with 5:11 left before halftime.
The Mohawks (5-6) turned the ball over four times with three fumbles and an interception. A blocked punt by Tanner Dean directly led to a North Schuylkill scores and a ball snapped out of the end zone on a punt resulted in the safety.
"Those turnovers and those special teams plays killed us," Meyers head coach Corry Hanson said. "In our losses this year, we got beat up pretty good. It was a bunch of things in general. We just didn't come to play tonight."
North Schuylkill again dominated in the running game, producing 351 yards on the ground that included two rushers over 100 yards,
Matt Gownley led the Spartans with 185 yards, including touchdown runs of six yards in the first quarter and 10 yards in the second. Gownley added a 60-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery. Motsney added to his opening score by rushing for 117 yards, including a 70-yard scoring run and a 39-yard run touchdown pass from quarterback Bob Grigas. Grigas also had scoring runs of 1 yard in the first quarter and five yards in the third. His 60-yard interception return set up his first touchdown.
"We had those big plays in the beginning and that just jumped-started everything," North Schuylkill assistant coach Anthony Fanelli said. "We expected more of them (Meyers). They are a good football team and have lots of speed. We felt we needed to contain their speed tonight."
Meyers showed its offensive capability by scoring three unanswered touchdowns after falling behind 58-0.
Quarterback Teaguen Labatch got his team going by scoring two touchdowns before halftime on passes of 19 and 33 yards respectively, to Matt DeMarco.
Labatch completed 17 of 30 passes for 246 yards as the Mohawks produced 334 yards of total offense compared to 390 to the Spartans.
DeMarco caught nine passes for 115 yards.