CANTON - The defensive line blew opponents backward and Jake Colburn exploded through the hole, sacking Garrett Wesneski.
It was a repeat of so many stellar Muncy defensive plays Saturday at Miller A. Moyer Stadium. It was one last enduring image on a day the Muncy defense dominated and played a near perfect game.
The defense allowed no offensive points, Troy Hembury ran for 118 yards and Muncy scored 20 consecutive second-half points as it downed Canton, 20-7. It was a win as important as it was impressive since the Warriors are the defending NTL Small School champions.
"Our defense has a lot of heart. We were on the field a lot, but we did well," said Colburn, who had two sacks. "We read in the paper that only one guy picked us to win so we wanted to make a statement and come up here and win."
"(Defensive coordinator) Dale Michael threw everything at them. When you're young and you see that chaos in front of you, it's tough to block," Muncy coach Jay Drumheller said. "That was his game plan, open up a little bit. He did so many different blitzes and stunts and shifts. It's a great victory to come up here on a Saturday afternoon because this is a hard place to play and win and their defense is tough."
Hembury and T.J. Moyle scored fourth-quarter touchdowns to break a 7-7 tie, but defense was the main story.
Sometimes statistics do not tell the story, but Saturday's did. To understand how dominant the Muncy defense was consider: It allowed only 77 yards and 1.7 yards per play. It recorded five sacks and never gave quarterback Garrett Wesneski time to scan the field. It allowed only two first downs in the game's first 59 minutes and 15 of the 77 yards it allowed came on a muffed punt snap that Chase Pepper ran 15 yards. Canton was limited to 2 yards or fewer on 32 of its 46 plays.
Everything started up front as defensive linemen like Scott Appleman, Spencer Cotner, Nick Roberts and Skylar Ebner manhandled Canton's offensive line. That allowed linebackers like Colburn, Moyle, Hembury and Jeff Scott to fly around and make plays. Muncy sacked Wesneski four times in the second half and held Canton without an offensive point in the first half despite the Warriors starting inside Muncy territory four times.
"To come out like this is just great," Colburn said. "The defensive line owned them up front. Our tackles did a great job and everyone played well."
"It was amazing what they did up there. It was awesome," said Hembury, who made 10 tackles. "The quarterback didn't have time to throw the ball. It was a great performance."
Canton scored its only points when Eddy Larcom stepped in front of a second-quarter pass and returned it 25 yards for a score. The way things went in the first half it appeared that might be enough since Canton held Muncy to 58 yards and forced four turnovers.
This was familiar territory, though. Muncy scored 28 second-half points last year at Canton, winning 28-7, so there was no worry. As strong as the defense was playing, Muncy remained confident it would take over once the offense eliminated its mistakes.
Kenny Koch tied it early in the third quarter, taking a sweep to the right, beating Canton defenders to the edge and going up the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown. Muncy was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Canton 13 on its next possession but mounted an 8-play, 65-yard drive a series later to go up front. Hembury set the tone when he carried defenders for 9 yards on the first play before breaking out of traffic and going 37 yards on the next one.
Hembury capped the drive with a 2-yard score and topped 100 times for the second time in his career. His other 100-yard game came last year at Canton.
"My two best games have been here. I just had to toughen it up. I'm used to being tired from wrestling," Hembury said. "The line got fired up and we put a couple drives together."
Muncy put the game away, going 64 yards on five runs. Hembury again provided the big play, getting a nice push up front, making a nice cutback and running 40 yards to the 10-yard line on a third-and-2. Two plays later, Moyle ran in from five yards out.
"I told Troy we should play every game on this field. He is unbelievable on this field," Drumheller said. "That run he had was beautiful."
Tim Bassett made eight tackles, added a sack and forced a fumble as Canton held Muncy to 58 first-half yards.
Muncy 20, Canton 7
Muncy0 0 7 13-20
Canton0 7 0 0-7
C-Eddy Larcom 25-yard interception return (Brian Jannone kick), 9:54
M-Kenny Koch 36 run (Troy Hembury kick), 9:07
M-Hembury 2 run (kick failed), 9:03
M-T.J. Moyle 5 run (Hembury kick), 1:16
TEAM STATISTICSM C
First downs11 4
Passing Yards41 44
RUSHING: Muncy, Troy Hembury 17-118, TD; Kenny Koch 3-39, TD; T.J. Moyle 6-28, TD; Teddy Clark 7-26; Jeff Scott 4-18; Anthony Barbiero 4-(-20). Canton, Tyler Cole 7-26; Chase Pepper 8-19; Tim Bassett 6-4; Eddy Larcom 1-1; John Bowman 1-(-3); Garrett Wesneski 11-(-20).
PASSING: Muncy, Barbiero 4-9-2, 41 yards. Canton, Wesneski 4-10-0, 44 yards.
RECEIVING: Muncy, Maurice Brown 3-37; Brandon O'Connell 1-4. Canton, Bassett 2-15; Pepper 1-24; Cole 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS: Canton, Larcom 2.
RECORDS: Muncy 1-0, 1-0 NTL. Canton 0-1, 0-1.