By Harold Raker
For The Daily Item
ELYSBURG — Southern Columbia has been so dominant that it doesn’t take much to get its opponent feeling good early.
After South Williamsport got a stop on Southern Columbia on the Tigers’ first possession Friday night, then drove the ball quickly into Southern territory to the 25, Mountaineers fans had reason to get excited.
But those feelings of joy were about as deceiving as candidate George McGovern winning a few precincts against Richard Nixon.
The next thing the Mountaineers knew, Southern outside linebacker Garett Sosnoski crashed through the line, sacked quarterback Matt Boone, knocked the ball loose and recovered it.
Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Nick Becker rifled a pass to junior split end Luke Rarig for a 23-yard touchdown pass.
The landslide, er, rout was on. In this battle of unbeatens in the Heartland Athletic Conference Division III, Southern rolled to a 34-0 halftime lead en route to a 48-14 victory.
“We had trouble running the ball, and it gets you out of your rhythm, and you’re chasing them, you’re chasing the clock,” said South Williamsport coach Chris Eiswerth, whose team’s only losses in 12 games last year came to the Tigers.
“They’re the best team in District 4, in any division. There’s them and everyone else.”
Becker threw for three TDs — one more to Rarig, and one to Blake Marks — and senior fullback Adam Feudale ran for 122 yards on just eight carries and two TDs.
The highly-touted South Williamsport running back, junior Dominic Bragalone, who averaged about 200 yards in each of his first three games, did get his yards. But it took all night to do it, as he scored on TD runs of 31 and 80 yards after the game was out of hand. He finished with 185, but on 25 carries.
Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth, whose team improved to 4-0 overall, 2-0 HAC-III, again had reason to be pleased with his defense.
“That was a big play defensively (by Sosnoski). That’s probably the most pleasing thing about the last two games, the way our defense has stepped up and played the last two weeks. There a lot of guys on the defensive side that are capable of making plays.”
The Tigers took advantage of outstanding field position all night, with every drive starting near midfield or inside South Williamsport territory, the result of short punts and-or nice returns by Rarig and Nate Hunter. Rarig had one punt return TD called back on a holding penalty.
“I actually thought he was trying to directional kick,” Roth said. “They were giving us the field position, and it was obvious they were overplaying the run and it opens things up.”
Added Eiswerth, whose Mountaineers (3-1, 1-1) could see Southern again the playoffs, “My hat’s off to Southern. They have a tremendous team.”