By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- Montoursville head coach J.C. Keefer watched the scoreboard clock at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium tick away and even after it showed all zeroes he wanted to be sure it was all over.
The Warriors experienced momentum swings like no other on Saturday night and when it was all over Montoursville was able to handle all the body punches Lewisburg could throw. Montoursville outlasted the Green Dragons, 37-33, to earn a berth opposite defending champion Mount Carmel in District 4 Class AA.
"This was such a game of momentum swings that I know if they put another two quarters up on the scoreboard the score might be different," Keefer said. "Lewisburg is a great team and we needed all of that momentum to hold on for the win."
Lewisburg, which at one point trailed 21-0 in the game, used a big second half to grab what looked to be a comfortable 33-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Brandon Smith, who led all rushers in the game with 154 yards, helped the Green Dragons tie the score, 21-21, with 7:47 left in the period. Big plays in the scoring drive included completions to Andrew Nash (23) and Drew Newcomb (13).
The Green Dragons then grabbed their first lead when Nick Costagliola found Nash on a crossing pattern to complete a seven-play, 58-yard drive for a 21-yard touchdown. The conversion attempt failed leaving the score at 27-21.
Montoursville, which scored on its first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead, could not stem the Lewisburg momentum early in the fourth period when Smith bulled over from the two-yard line to put Lewisburg on top, 33-21. Again the conversion try failed.
And then the momentum pendulum swung the other direction in favor of the Warriors.
Cameron Ott blocked the second Lewisburg punt out of the end zone for a safety and cutting into the Lewisburg lead, 33-23. The Warriors began their assault to get back in the contest and drove 60 yards in eight plays with Aaron Cole throwing a two-yard TD and Jim McMahon's conversion pulled the visitors to within, 33-30.
Lewisburg tried valiantly to keep control of the ball but gave it up quickly after two incompletion. Montoursville took over on the 42 to start its winning drive.
Cole connected with Ott for 25 yards to the Green Dragons' 37 and, with time dwindling away, the senior signal-caller found Matt Kremzer sneaking out of the backfield and he hit him in stride for a 37-yard TD that put Montoursville on top for good, 37-33.
"It came down to execution and Montoursville just did a better job than we did," Green Dragons coach Jeremy Winn said. "We hurt ourselves by falling behind 21-0 and then we allowed them to make more big plays than we did. I wasn't worried falling behind because we rallied all season long, but in the end it still was execution."
Smith cut into that 21-0 lead in the first half with a 64-yard TD run and Luke Smith caught a six-yard TD pass heading into halftime on a fake field goal with on the final play of the first half.