HUGHESVILLE - Cameron Karschner established himself as an elite District 4 receiver last year.
Griffin Dunne is starting to do so this year. He's just doing so on the other side of the ball.
Dunne returned his third interception for a touchdown in two weeks Friday at Hughesville, changing the game's complexion while helping pave the way for a 42-7 Montoursville win. Clay Stoner ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns and the Warriors (3-1) dominated all facets, taking a 28-point halftime lead while winning their second straight.
Clay Stoner (43) of Montoursville evades Hughesville tackler Justin?Lambert (7) Friday night at Hughesville. View additonal photos at cu.sungazette.com.
Dunne has been a force at turning defense into offense. His two first-half pick sixes led Montoursville to a win over Jersey Shore victory last week and last night's put a damper on what was starting to look like an impressive Hughesville comeback.
"Griffin Dunne with the pick 6 definitely helps," Stoner said. "He's like a monster out there."
Stoner and Cameron Ott ran for three early touchdowns and gave Montoursville a 21-0 lead, but Dakota Nixon broke off a 65-yard touchdown run two plays later and cut the deficit to 14. Hughesville stopped Montoursville on fourth down a series later and began driving again, moving inside Warrior territory. Then Dunne struck again.
Justin Lambert's pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and Dunne leapt into the air, making a nice catch. Dunne broke out of traffic and was off to the races again. Outstanding in coverage, Dunne also has shown breakaway speed and went 52 yards for the back-breaking touchdown, giving him more than 150 yards in returns the last two weeks.
Frank Dyer nearly made it five pick 6s in two weeks for Montoursville a series later, returning another interception to the 19-yard line and setting up Stoner for a touchdown that made it 35-7 at halftime.
"We know how it feels to be on the other end of those and those pick 6s change the complexion of a ball game," Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. "That and Frank's turned everything around. We stop the run pretty well and force guys to throw the ball and our guys are getting better and better at knowing game situations. Our guys are learning the game of football and that's making them better players on the field."
Running behind a jelling offensive line, Stoner was virtually unstoppable in the first quarter. The senior recorded his third 100-yard game, scoring on runs of four and 40. Stoner scored that long touchdown after taking a pitch to left, making a nice cut and going all the way untouched.
Ott (4 carries, 79 yards) showed he is just as explosive on the next series, running over three defenders near the line of scrimmage and going 37 yards for a touchdown on the second-quarter's first play. Stoner and Ott both were adept at breaking tackles all night and fullback Matt Krezmer led the way with some crushing blocks. Quarterback Aaron Cole threw for 119 yards while Karschner caught six passes for 72 yards.
"If you can get into open space because of the blocking of the line that's what you have to do. That's what my job is," said Stoner, who had 107 yards at halftime. "They do their job, I do my job. They work hard for me so I want to work hard and make it worth it for them."
Montoursville held Hughesville to minus-3 yards on its first three possessions, but Nixon exploded up the middle following Ott's run and breathed life into Hughesville, going 65 yards and making it a 21-7 game. The sophomore received a nice block from Devante Oliver, made a slight cut and then displayed some nice breakaway speed.
"He's been a good runner all through junior high and he certainly can hit the hole and has some speed," Hughesville coach Andy Brown said. "We've worked him into the lineup and we're excited that he's playing well."
Hughesville has played four straight tough opponents who have either three or four wins. The problems that have occurred in those games happened again last night. The Spartans, replacing several starters from last year, did some things well but could not put everything together.
"I told them at halftime, we had an opportunity to put ourselves in a position to win this football game and we just didn't get the job done," Brown said. "If we're going to have any success this year we have to do that. We have to be able to capitalize when things go right for us and we have to put four quarters together."
Take away the Nixon touchdown and Montoursville's starting defense was almost perfect. The Warriors allowed only 96 yards in three quarters. The Spartans gained just 31 yards on 26 plays other than Nixon's touchdown and 17 of those plays went for three yards or fewer. Eight times Hughesville lost yards on those plays.
Krezmer set the tone early with some tackles in the backfield while linebacker Michael Snook continued making a name for himself with some good plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. Ott added a sack, dropping Lambert for a 9-yard loss.
"It didn't jell totally where it needs to be going into these next six games but it was a step closer," Keefer said. "We're not quite where we want to be, but we're farther ahead than last week and it's a good step."