By The Daily Item
Despite a poor start to the second half, and the fact that Mifflinburg had two long touchdown runs (by Oakley Whitesel and Kyle Failor) called back by penalties, there was no quit in the Wildcats on Friday.
They mounted a nice drive on the ground, marching 65 yards on 18 plays with Failor sneaking for a 1-yard TD. A mishandled snap by Failor on the PAT try worked out in the Wildcats’ favor as Failor kept his composure and hit tight end Toby Boyer for a two-point conversion pass to make it 26-15 with 2:44 left in the third.
The euphoria was short-lived, however, as Bloomsburg took barely a minute to cover 80 yards for another score and a 32-15 advantage.
Mifflinburg scored on what would be its final play. Devin Hendrix, who shared time with Failor at quarterback, hit Failor in stride down the right sideline for a 77-yard score.
Wildcats coach Jason Dressler said he was proud of how well his players hung in after having two TDs nullified and playing the Panthers after losing starting cornerbacks Dustin Mertz and Daniel Danowsky last week.
“They are taught to go get the next one, and that’s what they did.”
THE RUN STOPS HERE: The main factor in Danville’s first shutout of the season was the job the Ironmen did against Shikellamy’s rushing attack. They held the Braves to 25 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Without a 23-yard loss on an errant shotgun snap, the Braves still would have averaged fewer than 2 yards per carry.
Danville’s defense did a good job at the point of attack, forcing the Braves toward the sideline where the Ironmen linebackers could pursue to tackles. The one time Shik broke through with a chance for a big gainer, Danville linebacker Eric Haney got the back of Dwayne Pepper’s ankle for a TD-saving tackle.
“We’re pretty quick to the ball, so that was part of the game plan: Let’s make them go east-west and not north-south,” said Danville coach Jim Keiser. “I thought we came off the ball a little bit better, and that’s something we’ve been working on. Our line coaches have realy been working on getting low and getting off the ball. I thought they did a really good job.”
TURNING THE PAGE: Shikellamy was disappointed following Friday’s loss 24-0 loss to Danville, particularly after averaging nearly 35 points per game in a three-game win streak.
First-year coach Todd Tilford counted on the Braves to bounce back for the stretch run.
“(Danville is) a good football team, and we’ve got to look at that,” he said. “We still have a ton of stuff to play for. Playing Shamokin and Milton, we’re playing for a home game in districts against a possible district opponent. So the next two weeks are going to be big for us. As frustrated as everybody is, we’ve got the type of kids and coaches that will keep plugging away. Hopefully we’ll learn from it; (we) can’t come out flat against a good team like that.”
NICK HAS A KNACK: Lewisburg quarterback Nick Costagliola has shown an uncanny ability, as a right-handed passer, to throw well while moving to his left.
Against Central Columbia, the Green Dragons were able to convert a first-and-20 on their go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter thanks to that.
Costagliola rolled out to his left to begin the play, but the Blue Jays’ Alex Shiber quickly pressured the junior quarterback.
Costagliola was able to stiff-arm Shiber and, before stepping out of bounds, fired a pass to tight end Ty Turner for a 27-yard gain to the Blue Jays 19.
Four plays later, Joey Gardner scored from 5 yards out to give Lewisburg the lead with 7:38 left in the game.
IMPACT BACK: Central Columbia senior fullback Eric McCracken is known more for his play on the defensive side of the ball. But Blue Jays coach Jason Hippenstiel says the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has been close the last few games to making an impact on the offensive side of the football.
“He had a long run at Mount Carmel called back by a penalty,” Hippenstiel said. “He can certainly run the football and he’s got surprising speed for a kid his size.”
The breakout came in Friday night’s 16-15 win over Lewisburg when McCracken rushed for a career-high 124 yards on 17 carries.
His best run set up Central Columbia’s first score of the game. McCracken broke a tackle in the hole, and then hurdled a Lewisburg defender who dove at his legs. He was finally dragged down at the Lewisburg 11 after a 50-yard gain.
FUN TO WATCH: Like his team’s fans, Bloomsburg first-year starting quarterback Ricky Klingerman enjoys watching his receivers — most notably his cousins, brothers John and Colby Klingerman — make catches and score touchdowns.
Klingerman, who replaced four-year standout Blake Rankin, now at Rutgers University, talking about some catches John made against pretty good coverage, said, “It’s amazing. You think the ball is going to hit the ground or be intercepted and you see John fly up and get it, and Colby is the same way. It’s hard to explain, he just makes some incredible plays, plays like I’ve never seen before.”
Ricky and Colby hooked up for a touchdown on the fifth play of the game that probably had a good Mifflinburg defense wondering what else it could do.
Ricky rolled to his left and, while under heavy pressure and off balance, he zipped a pass down the sideline to Colby, who took it away from a defender and raced in for a 38-yard score.
TWO BIG PLAYS: Bloomsburg coach Larry Sones pointed to what he thought were two keys to his Panthers being able to pull out the win against a Mifflinburg team that has played most teams tough.
John Klingerman stripped quarterback Kyle Failor of the ball to stop Mifflinburg’s chance to pull to within five points before the half.
Then, to open the second half, the Panthers pressured punter Victor Suquet on a high snap and he had to hurry the kick, knocking it out of bounds at the Mifflinburg 28. John Klingerman scored on the next play to put Bloomsburg up 26-7.