CATAWISSA — Mount Carmel needed to pull out all of the stops if it was going to wrest the District 4 Class 2A title from Southern Columbia on Saturday night.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Red Tornadoes kicked — and then recovered — an onside kick to open the game.
However, the Tigers defense didn’t get rattled, sacking Mount Carmel quarterback Tom Reisinger on back-to-back plays, and Southern Columbia rolled to its 27th District 4 championship in 29 years, 49-0.
The Tigers (13-0) will face District 3 champion Upper Dauphin (12-0) at 7 p.m Friday night at Selinsgrove High School. Mount Carmel wraps up its season at 10-3.
The game was marred by two incidents. Mount Carmel’s 1,000-yard rusher, Shane Weidner, left the field in an ambulance after being knocked into his bench on a kickoff return. The game was delayed for nearly 35 minutes awaiting the ambulance from Bloomsburg.
Then in the third quarter, a near-brawl erupted near the Southern Columbia sideline. Two Mount Carmel players were ejected and the game was delayed for another 8-10 minutes, while the officals sorted that out as well.
Mount Carmel opened the game with the ball on the Southern Columbia 48 after the onside kick, but freshman Chris Treshock, making his first career start, stopped a running play for 1-yard on the first play, before senior Lear Quinton picked up sacks on back-to-back plays to force a punt.
“It’s a big game. No matter how it starts, we just have to do the best that we can,” Quinton said.
“Our offense has had a tremendous year and those guys get a lot of the recognition,” Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth said. “The defense has a lot to do with that. Our defense has had an unbelieveable year.
“That has a lot to do with the offense’s success. They get us the ball back quickly, mostly with three-and-outs.”
It took Southern Columbia just five plays to go 81 yards to get on the board. Gavin Garcia bounced an off-tackle play down the left sideline for a 46-yard TD run with 7:53 left in the first quarter.
Cade Linn recovered a Weidner fumble on the first play of the next Mount Carmel series, and Julian Fleming caught a 23-yard TD pass on the next play for two scores in 20 seconds, along with a 14-0 lead.
A quick three-and-out, keyed by a 3-yard tackle for loss by Cal Haladay, and a pass breakup by Jake Davis, led to a short Mount Carmel punt. The Tigers needed just four plays to go 40 yards as Gaige Garcia scored from 22 yards out to make it 21-0 with 4:56 left in the first quarter.
Mount Carmel appeared to get on the board on its next drive when Jack Chapman caught a 65-yard pass, but it was negated by an offensive pass interference call. Third-and-1 turned into fourth-and-33 from Mount Carmel’s own 2. Fleming returned the ensuing punt 28 yards to set up his own 2-yard TD catch to make it 28-0 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
Davis then picked off a Reisinger pass at the Mount Carmel 30. Junior tight end Wade Kerstetter made his first career catch, a 3-yard TD grab, to cap the drive with 11:35 left in the first half.
Gaige Garcia added second-quarter TD runs of 48 and 60 yards to cap the Southern Columbia scoring.
The Tigers’ defense held Mount Carmel to just 3 yards of offense in the first half.
DISTRICT 4 CLASS 2A PLAYOFFS
at Jim Roth Field at Coaches Stadium, Catawissa
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA 49,
MOUNT CARMEL 0
Mount Carmel (10-3)`0`0`0`0 — 0
Southern Columbia (13-0)`28`21`0`0 — 49
SC-Gavin Garcia 46 run (Ethan Haupt kick)
SC-Julian Fleming 23 pass from Preston Zachman (Haupt kick)
SC-Gaige Garcia 22 run (Haupt kick)
SC-Fleming 4 pass from Zachman (Haupt kick)
SC-Wade Kerstetter 3 pass from Zachman (Haupt kick)
SC-Gaige Garcia 48 run (Haupt kick)
SC-Gaige Garcia 60 run (Haupt kick)
RUSHING – Mount Carmel: Joey Bendas 7-35; Pedro Feliciano 6-30; Noah Berkoski 6-20; Jacob Zarski 3-18; Thomas Davett 2-6; Shane Weidner 2-2; Damon Dowkus 3-2; Ethan Fatula 2-2; Bryan Trent 1-0; Tom Reisinger 6-(-16). Southern Columbia: Gaige Garcia 8-170, 3 TDs; Gavin Garcia 6-89, TD; Liam Klebon 1-15; Jayden McCormick 3-9; Ty Roadarmel 4-5; Matt Masala 2-4; Wes Barnes 4-2; Ronnie Szido 1-1.
PASSING – Mount Carmel: Resinger 4-8-1 for 1 yard. Southern Columbia: Preston Zachman 5-7-0 for 54 yards, 3 TDs.
RECEIVING — Mount Carmel: Jack Chapman 1-4; Berkoski 2-3; Logan Wills 1-(-6). Southern Columbia: Julian Fleming 3-36, 2 TDs; Gaige Garcia 1-15; Wade Kerstetter 1-3.