CATAWISSA- The 2011 football season opened in resounding fashion at Tiger Stadium as Southern Columbia hosted fellow top-ten, state-ranked Line Mountain. These two premier class A teams are no stranger to each other or to hard-nosed football. The Eagles spread offense, piloted by quarterback Marty Beninsky, proved difficult to corral for the Tiger defense. However, Southern’s Wing-T, featuring an entirely new backfield, proved nearly impossible for the Eagles to stop. The rushing trio of Casey Savitski, Tyler Levan, and (converted tight-end) Matt Moore put on a veritable running clinic en route to their school’s 400th all-time victory. The win also marks the fourth time in-a-row that Southern defeated an otherwise unbeaten Line Mountain team.
The Eagles got the ball to open the game with Beninsky pounding it forward on three consecutive plays before a bobbled hand-off and an incomplete pass stalled the drive.
The Tigers came up a yard short of a first down on their opening three plays and decided to punt deep into Eagle territory. The punt was muffed by the return-man and recovered at Line Mountain’s 5 yard marker. On the following play Savitski darted in for the opening score.
Once again the Tiger defense held strong with Keith Day up-ending Beninsky at the line-of-scrimmage. Southern had the ball back in short order, setting up an eight-play, 75 yard drive for another score. The series featured a 20 yard burst by Savitsky and Moore’s first touches as a running back of 7 and 20 yards respectively. A false start penalty forced SC into a third & 15 situation at the LM 23. Quarterback, Brad Fegley called his own number and proved he has some good legs as well, cutting to the outside and racing 23 yards into the end zone. The score was 14-0.
Everything seemed to be going Southern’s way, but the Eagles were nowhere near ready to throw in the towel. Forced into a punting situation after just four plays, LM caught its first brake on an encroachment penalty which yielded them a fresh set of downs. Then a personal foul call got them to the Tiger 26. Three snaps later, Kyle Troutman flew through a huge hole in the middle of the line and went 17 yards for the score. The PAT by Austin Snyder made it 14-7 in favor of Southern.
The Tigers answered right back after a short kick-off was covered at the Tiger 33. A 30 yard toss from Fegley to Day got them deep into Eagle territory at the 26. On third & two at the 18 yard line Moore got his third shot at carrying the leather. Once again he showed his ability to find a seam before turning on the jets for an 18 yard touchdown.
Not to be outdone, after the kick-off Troutman once again found a hole and out-ran the defenders. The 63 yard touchdown run was the longest of the game and more than doubled Line Mountain’s total offense up to that point. Moore blocked the PAT attempt leaving the score 21-13 – the shoot-out was on!… Or was it?
Things settled down a bit for the remainder of the first half. SC’s next drive fizzled after a sack by Luke Erdman and Alex Karlovich, a holding call, and two incomplete passes. For their part, the Eagles could only net three yards on three plays before punting. Then Southern started to roll again. Levan was finding his feet and pounded the ball forward on a 19 yard run to the Eagle 15. Four plays later, on fourth & four at the nine, Levan rumbled in for the score. However it was denied due to an illegal block call which occurred after he crossed the goal line. Instead of a score the ball was given back on downs to the Eagles. With the final minutes of the half ticking away, SC’s defense played prevent and kept the score at 21-13 going into the locker rooms.
With the first possession of the second half, Southern capitalized quickly. The Eagles were kicking short line-drives to keep the ball out of the hands of the speedster return men (Moore & Day). That only provided the Tigers with good field position to start their drives. After two rushes by Levan, netting ten yards and a first and ten near mid-field, Moore got the hand-off and would not be denied. Shedding tacklers and breaking loose in the defensive backfield, he bulleted 55 yards for his second TD.
Trailing 28-13, the Eagles needed to make something happen. After an excellent kick-return by Troutman to near mid-filed, Beninsky engineered LM’s best drive of the game, going 53 yards on nine plays, capped by a keeper around the left side for the three yard TD. The two-point conversion failed when Beninsky’s pass sailed high, leaving the score 28-19.
Southern kept the ball on the ground and the clock running as the O-line surged forward and the runners pounded the rock right at the defenders. Levan rumbled for 23, Moore clawed his way for 25, and Savistski punched it in from the five to go up 35-19.
After trading series, Line Mountain was able to score one more time. On his only carry, Austin Snyder found the middle wide open and blasted 43 yards to pay dirt. Another two-point conversion pass sailed high and the score left the Eagles in the hunt at 35-25.
To make sure LM’s potent offense didn’t get the chance for a come-back, the backfield did what they do best. Levan had punishing rushes of 22, 10, and 12 yards, where he just ran straight through the defensive players, plowing his way down field. Finally Savitsky sealed the deal with a 22 yard score. Dylan Swank went six for six on PAT’s, and this game was in the books at 42-25.
LINE MOUNTAIN (0-1) Showed no let-up in this game. Their offense is potent and dangerous from anywhere on the filed. Marty Beninsky went 9/19 passing for 94 yards. On the ground he gained 99 yards on 19 carries and one TD. Kyle Troutman netted 110 yards on 9 carries with two touchdowns, and Austin Snyder scored a 43 yard TD on his lone rush. The Eagles travel to Panther Valley next week to take on JIM THORPE (0-1) before starting Twin Valley Conference play at WILLIAMS VALLEY (0-1) on week three. You can expect Coach Carson’s Eagles to be one of the best teams in the TVC again this season. You can also expect to see them challenging the Tigers again in the District IV play-off.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (1-0) Answered a lot of questions in their opener against a quality opponent. Questions regarding how well they could overcome the loss of all-state RB Tyrell Thomas were quickly laid to rest. Matt Moore stepped into the role and was the night’s leading rusher with 142 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries. That comes to a whopping 15.8 yards per carry. Tyler Levan compiled 140 yards on 19 touches, and Casey Savitski rushed for 85 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns. In Brad Fegley’s debut at QB, he rushed for 44 yards and a TD and threw seven times with three completions for 46 yards. Kieth Day caught two passes for 30 & 13 yards. In all, the Tigers rushed for 326 yards and six touchdowns. One question that remains is how well the defense will be able to regroup and fix some of their deficiencies. As coach Roth pointed out, there are many players playing in new positions so there will be a learning curve until it all comes together. The Tigers host MONTOURSVILLE(1-0) next week to start Heartland Conference action.