By Mike Ferlazzo
For The Daily Item
MONTOURSVILLE — Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer told anyone who would listen that his team owed Central Columbia one from last season. Keefer’s Warriors turned it over five times as Central rallied for the 27-17 week two win and eventually went on to the Heartland Athletic Conference Division II championship — one game better than Montoursville.
Keefer’s team got its measure of revenge — and how. More mature Montoursville dominated the inexperienced Blue Jays in every facet of the game during a 41-0 home opening rout. The Warriors (2-0, 1-0 HAC-II) outgained Central (1-1, 1-1 HAC-II) 347 to 160 in the surprisingly easy conference victory.
"I’m pleased with the win and you’re right, it kind of felt like we owed them one from last year," Keefer said. "And we came out and did a nice job with the intensity in our home opener. The seniors wanted to make a statement, and I think we did that."
For the second straight week, the Warriors overpowered their opponent in the first half — this time rolling up a 27-0 lead. And just like last time at Warrior Run, they made a statement in their opening drive, going 72 yards in 11 plays — all but one on the ground — with wingback Curtis Miller taking it the final six for the score at 4:15 of the first.
The Warrior defense then got into the scoring act in a play that may have turned the whole complexion of the game. Facing a third-and-4 play from his own 35, Central quarterback Austin Farver’s screen pass was tipped into the hands of Montoursville defensive end Wyatt Entz, who rumbled 39 yards into the end zone for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
"Our (defensive) line’s starting to show up a little bit," Keefer said. "There are still some things there — some discipline issues that we need to take care of — but I was pleased with how physical they were. They were getting off the blocks and not allowing the blockers to get to the second level."
It was next time for the Montoursville special teams to turn in a big play, as senior defensive end Tommy Williams blocked Cody Bowman’s punt, giving the Warriors the ball on the Blue Jay 43. After two runs by senior running back Alex Rothrock got it down to the one, fullback Ethan Jones hit paydirt. While the conversion failed on a bad snap, Montoursville still led 20-0 at 9:56 of the second.
Just four plays later, the defense got the ball back in great field position again when Holden Lodge recovered a fumble on the Warrior 45. Five plays later, Cameron Ott broke free for a 15-yard scoring run and a 27-0 halftime lead.
Ott would add a 30-yard touchdown run at 10:35 of the third as part of his 103-yard rushing night. Rothrock would also rush for 72 yards and close the scoring with a 30-yard third quarter scoring jaunt.
"I wouldn’t say it was easy. It was 27-0 at halftime and we were working our rear ends off because it just felt like it was 14-0," Keefer said. "Things just weren’t coming as easy as they may have looked. We were grinding and the kids did a nice job of battling and finishing it."
Central never seriously threatened the Warriors’ goal line as the Blue Jays tried to find the right offensive chemistry — playing three different quarterbacks and nine different ball carriers.