CATAWISSA - Three consecutive South Williamsport punts covered just 41 total yards in the first half on Friday night. During a typical week, the Mounties defense might have been able to overcome such a deficiency, but Week 4 of the high school football season brought no normal opponent for South Williamsport. The Mounties were playing Southern Columbia one of the state's top-ranked Class A teams and the only team to beat South in the past two seasons.
The first punt of 16 yards resulted in a Southern touchdown. The second covered 10 yards and led to another Tigers' TD. And the third punt of 15 yards set up a third consecutive touchdown that eventually led to a Southern Columbia 48-14 victory in a battle of early-season unbeatens.
"They are one of the best teams in the state in any division and the best team in District 4 in any division, and we've lost three games in I don't know how many games, and we've lost all three to them and that says a lot," South Williamsport coach Chris Eiswerth. "We respect them a lot and we aspire to be as competitive as them."
The Mounties appeared headed in that direction early Friday night, holding Southern on downs and then moving the ball to the Tigers' 25 on the strength of a 27-yard Riley Hengler completion from Matt Boone. Facing a third-and-9, however, Southern Columbia's Garrett Sosnoski pumped life into his team by coming off the edge and sacking Boone, who was looking left and didn't see the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior. Sosnoski drove Boone into the ground, caused a fumble and recovered it for the trifecta and turned to the Tigers' sideline and flexed his arms down by his waist.
Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Nick Becker found a streaking Luke Rarig behind the South Williamsport defense for a 23-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Becker finished with three passing touchdowns covering 23, 9 and 10 yards. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 108 yards and connected on his final five throws.
"We have young kids in the secondary that are slowly working their way in and they are going to have some growing pains and that is understandable," Eiswerth said.
Four different receivers caught balls from Becker and as usual with Southern Columbia teams, the backfield proved even deeper. Eleven different Tigers carried the ball, including Adam Feudale who needed only seven carries to total 115 yards. The Tigers finished with 331 yards rushing. Feudale's longest run, a 51-yarder in the second quarter, made it 34-0 Southern with under a minute remaining in the first half.
"After the first series we kind of got on track, throwing and running," Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth said. "The thing we have going right now is we're using four backs in the varsity and when you mix in Nick throwing the ball you can tell the running backs when they get the ball they are hungry. Every kid when they are running the ball they are running with a ton of effort because they knew they aren't going to get a ton of carries."
The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 HAC-III) made it 41-0 early in the third quarter on a 7-yard Matt Lupold run before South Williamsport (3-1, 1-1) scored its first points on a 31-yard Dominick Bragalone run.
Bragalone did finish with 181 yards on 24 carries, but 111 of those yards came on a pair of second-half touchdown runs, including an 80-yarder in the fourth quarter.