By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
CATAWISSA — The undefeated Southern Columbia Tigers, the odds-on favorite to claim both the Heartland-III and District 4 titles, already has a big bulls-eye on their backs at this point of the season.
But when rival Bloomsburg travels the short distance south down to Catawissa, those cross hairs on Southern become quite large indeed.
However, in the 50-plus meetings between the two schools there have been many close battles, but Friday’s contest wasn’t one of them.
Southern scored at least one touchdown in every quarter to rout Bloomsburg, 50-13, in the divisional matchup played at Tiger Stadium.
“We thought we could’ve played a little better in the first half, but Bloomsburg had something to do with that. They were moving some people up front and that was creating some problems at times,” said Southern coach Jim Roth, whose program owns a 33-19 record against Bloomsburg.
“We uncharacteristically turned the ball over a couple of times and we had some penalties that hurt us. This was a big game in terms of rivalry against a good team, and sometimes if you’re not handling the emotion of a big game — that can result in some of those mistakes.
“All in all it was a good positive win,” added Roth.
The two turnovers by Southern (7-0, 4-0 HAC-III) were interceptions as Bloomsburg senior defensive back Zach Asford picked off Nick Becker twice in the first two quarters.
Regardless, the Tigers still racked up tons of yards via their running game to put points on the board.
Southern scored twice in the first quarter as Dave Hunter ran for a four-yard touchdown and Adam Feudale reeled off a 21-yard touchdown run.
Then late in the second quarter Feudale punched in a two-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 24-0 halftime lead.
In addition to Feudale and Hunter, Blake Marks and Matt Lupold also did damage on the ground in the first half for the Tigers to ultimately give the Panthers fits.
“With a four-back system like we’re using, the good thing is (we can ground it out), but on the negative side none of them are getting a ton of carries and none of them are getting big stats — except for (Feudale) because he carries the ball a little bit more at the fullback position,” said Roth.
“But every time they touch the ball they’re hungry. They are fresh, they are hungry and when we get into a four-quarter game that’s tough in the fourth quarter, that’s definitely going to be a positive for us if we have backs that are still fresh and still running with fresh legs in the fourth quarter.
“We haven’t faced that, and hopefully we never do, but if we do that will be a positive for us.”
In the third quarter Marks would run for a two-yard touchdown and Feudale added a 34-yard score to put the mercy rule into effect against Bloomsburg as the Tigers went up 38-0.
And for good measure in the fourth quarter, back-up players Billy Marzeski and Brad Noll both added touchdown runs, the latter reeling off a 58-yard score.
All total, Southern racked up 401 yards on the ground on 45 carries.
Feudale led the way with 15 rushes for 145 yards and three scores. Hunter added 88 yards on just seven carries.
Southern’s defense was just as staunch versus Bloomsburg’s high-powered passing game, especially when starting quarterback Ricky Klingerman was injured on a sack by Noll late in the second quarter and was finished for the night.
Without the services of their quarterback, the Panthers were held to less than 200 yards of total offense in the game, including just 82 yards through the air.
“With what Bloomsburg can do in the passing game and they speed they have, and the way we controlled things I just think we set the tone on defense. That’s so key,” said Roth.
“Our goal coming in was to control their passing game — because we felt Bloomsburg could probably throw the ball maybe as well as anybody we were going to see — even if we play 16 weeks. Our feeling was, if we could do a good job against this passing game that would say something for us, and it certainly did.”