MANDATA — As Line Mountain was celebrating a 44-21 victory over Newport on Friday, it seemed appropriate that Garret Laudenslager — one of the heroes for the Eagles — was getting photos taken while wearing a crown.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound tailback, who was crowned the homecoming king during halftime, burned the Buffaloes for 255 rushing yards and a touchdown to help the Eagles make a push toward a District 4 Class 2A semifinal berth.
Things were looking a tad bleak for Line Mountain and its playoff hopes in the first half. Newport answered an early Eagle touchdown with a 90-yard kickoff return and added two more TDs to take a 21-10 lead with 2:46 left until halftime.
The rest of the game belonged to the Eagles, which closed the gap to 21-17 with a seven-play, 61-yard scoring drive while racing the clock.
In the third quarter, the big-play Eagles scored 27 points, aided by an 89-yard TD by Laudenslager and scoring jaunts of 57 and 56 yards by senior quarterback Jacob Feese.
The Eagles, who won the Mid-Penn Conference-Liberty title in their first year in the league, are hoping to be in the playoffs, but the updated power rankings were not completed by press time.
Line Mountain’s two-headed backfield monster racked up 412 yards on the ground (157 by Feese), and the Eagles rolled up 521 yards of total offense.
“That was the best game we had,’’ Laudenslager said.
Line Mountain forced a three-and-out on the first series, then drove 53 yards in nine plays, all on the ground, to take a 7-0 lead on Feese’s 11-yard TD run. But the lead disappeared in a flash as Mason Huggins returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for the score.
The Eagles (4-1 overall, 3-0 MPC-Liberty) went right back to work and drove to the Newport (2-1, 1-1) 11-yard line and, on fourth-and-2, got a 28-yard field goal from Boyer and it was 10-7. Newport regained the lead on a 71-yard TD run up the middle by quarterback Andy Bates and the Buffaloes were up 14-10.
An interception by Bates set Newport up for a 7-yard TD by Thomas Pyle to give Newport a 21-10 lead.
“I knew we were fine with the offense that we have,” Feese said. “Our high-powered offense can stay with anybody. We took care of business and executed, and we were fine.”
The late second-quarter scoring drive, manufactured mostly by the hard running of Feese and Laudenslager, ended with an 11-yard TD pass from Feese to Aiden Herb, who made a great catch in the right corner of the endzone despite tight coverage by the Newport defender.
“That was crucial to the rest of the night,” Feese said of that drive. “It kind of sealed the deal for us. (It was) big momentum going into half. We’ve been playing good this year without a lot of mistakes.”
He said all he told the kids at halftime was to go back out and do the things they had been doing in previous games and the kids responded.
Line Mountain, which deferred after winning the toss, took advantage of the first possession of the third quarter as Feese faked a handoff and took the ball up the middle, going 57 yards for the score. Two plays later, Dominick Bridi recovered a Newport fumble and Beau Keim punched it in from the 1.
The Eagles forced a punt and on the first play of the next series, Feese took off again on an option over left tackle and went 56 yards to the end zone.
Line Mountain blocked a 26-yard field goal try on the next series and immediately scored again on Laudenslager’s 89-yard score. Boyer’s PAT made it 27 points in the quarter and 34 straight.
LINE MOUNTAIN 44, NEWPORT 21
Newport (2-1) 7 14 0 0 — 21
Line Mountain (4-1) 7 10 27 0 — 44
LM-Jacob Feese 11 run (Braydon Boyer kick)
N-Mason Huggins 90 kickoff return (Will Davis kick)
LM—FG Boyer 28
N—Bates 71 run (Davis kick)
N—Thomas Pyle 7 run (Davis kick)
LM—Aiden Herb 11 pass from Feese (Boyer kick)
LM—Feese 57 run (Boyer kick)
LM—Beau Keim 1 run (kick failed)
LM—Feese 56 run (Boyer kick)
LM—Laudenslager 89 run (Boyer kick)
First downs 7 26
Rushes-net yards 24-156 56-477
Passing yards 90 44
Passing 6-16-1 3-6-1
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-0
Penalties-yards 4-30 6-54
RUSHING — Newport: Bates 9-105, TD; Pyle 12-50, TD; Huggins 1-6; Davis 1-5; team 1-(-10). Line Mountain: Garret Laudenslager 23-255, TD; Feese 21-157, 3 TDs; Keim 10-67, TD; team 2 (-2).
PASSING — Newport: Bates 6-16-1 for 90 yards. Line Mountain, Feese 3-6-1 for 44 yards, TD.
RECEIVING — Newport: Huggins 4-60; Davis 1-16; Pyle 1-14. Line Mountain: Keim 1-23; Herb 1-11, TD; Laudenslager 1-10.