Tigers roll to D-4 crown
CATAWISSA R.R. - For a quarter, South Williamsport hung around with Southern Columbia Friday. In fact, the Mounties actually had the early lead.
But then Jake Becker blocked a punt, and from that point, the Tigers were dominant in winning their 21st District 4 Class A championship in 22 years, 47-12, at Tiger Stadium.
Becker's blocked punt came on the first play of the second quarter with the score tied 6-6. Less than a minute later Southern scored, and by halftime the Tigers had built a 35-6 lead on the way to their second mercy rule win over South Williamsport this season.
Southern (12-0) will play District Two champ Dunmore, a 7-6 winner over Old Forge, next week at a District Two site in the state playoffs. South Williamsport ended its season 10-0 against everybody else, 0-2 against Southern.
Quarterback Taylor Young had a strong game for the Tigers. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 114 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Matt Lupold, and added 63 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just three carries.
"This was the best offensive performance we've had since the Selinsgrove game," Southern Columbia head coach Jim Roth said. "All of the backs ran hard, we threw the ball well and the line was really getting off the ball."
Still, Southern had another sluggish start. The Tigers went three
and out on their first possession, then gave up a 43-yard touchdown run to South Williamsport's Dominick Bragalone, who had a nifty hurdle of Luke Rarig on the play, after the punt.
Southern came back with a five-play, 54-yard scoring drive, with Young scoring on a 31-yard run on a rollout on which he cut back to the center of the field after the initial gain.
South Williamsport, behind power back Brandon Stonge, drove to Southern's 40 on the next series, but Mitch Stanziale and Trent Donlan combined to sack quarterback Tyler House for a 12-yard loss. That set up Becker's blocked punt. After the block, a South Williamsport player picked up the loose ball, tried to advance it and was penalized for throwing an illegal forward pass.
That gave the Tigers the ball at the Mounties' 32 and after a 15-yard pass from Young to Bryce Parry, Adam Feudale scored on a 13-yard run.
The Tigers scored again on their next three series. Young hit Lupold downfield for his touchdown pass, then scored on a two-yard run after he had a 30-yard run to the two, and Feudale scored on a 25-yard run.
Meanwhile, Southern's defense, after its initial struggles, gave up almost nothing. South Williamsport picked up no first downs from the blocked punt until the Mounties scored on their final series against Southern's backup defense.
"Our defense has improved over the course of the year," Roth said. "Once we settled down with their scheme, our front four controlled the area."
Freshman Blake Marks scored on a five-yard run and sophomore Matt Jeremiah on an 18-yard run for Southern in the second half.
"There is a little more excitement for this (district) championship than in some years because we really felt it was a strong field and because of the tough game we had with Line Mountain last week," Roth said. "We also had a nice effort tonight from our group of seniors. They showed a lot of leadership."