By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
MILLERSBURG — If Line Mountain thought that it could go into Millersburg and roll over the Indians just like it did a year ago, the Eagles were sorely mistaken.
Despite racking up more than 400 yards on the ground, Line Mountain made too many mistakes and Millersburg took advantage of them.
The Eagles fumbled the ball three times and committed five penalties of 10 yards or more to fall to the Indians, 28-26, in the Tri-Valley League matchup on Friday.
"We had too many mental mistakes, too many penalties, a couple of turnovers and that will do it for you," said Line Mountain coach Rodney Knock, whose team beat Millersburg 38-0 a year ago. "We were lucky to be in the game at the end considering how many mistakes we made.
"Millersburg played well and they came ready to play, and we didn’t come out ready to play and it showed," added Knock.
The first big mistake Line Mountain (1-1, 0-1 TVL) made occurred early in the second quarter.
Moments after Millersburg (1-1, 1-0) scored on a 15-yard run by Tylor Erdman to take a 7-6 lead, Christian Wingard squib-kicked the ensuing kickoff, which the Indians recovered at the Line Mountain 37.
Three plays later, the Indians found the end zone again as Austin Lehman caught a 22-yard pass from 6-foot-4 quarterback Ethan Troutman.
After its next drive fizzled out, Line Mountain got new life when Garrett Hepner recovered a fumble by Millersburg fullback Connor Keim at the Indians’ six-yard line.
The Eagles’ Hunter Hojnacki quickly turned that turnover into six points when he bounded into the end zone from six yards out. Seconds later, Cory Warford tied the game at 14 by carrying the ball in on the conversion.
Warford ran for a game-high 228 yards on 21 carries.
But any momentum Line Mountain had from the touchdown was erased in a big way.
On the first play of Millersburg’s next series, Austin Lehman took off for a 70-yard touchdown run to give the Indians the lead for good at 21-14.
And if fumbling the ball away on the final play of the first half wasn’t bad enough, Millersburg’s Alex Frederick returned the second half’s opening kickoff 80 yards for another touchdown to make the score 28-14.
"Big plays and too many mistakes — that sums it up," said Knock. "Our kids, I give them credit, because they played to the end, they played hard and they played to the end."
With seven seconds remaining in the third quarter, Line Mountain got a 56-yard touchdown run from Warford, and then late in the fourth quarterback Ryan Reed ran for a one yard score.
Reed finished with 147 yards on 21 carries for Line Mountain.
However, the Eagles couldn’t convert on the conversions of either touchdown.