MOUNT CARMEL _ At the peak of his dropback, Zack Wasilewski looked up and had a moment of indecision. Before the Mount Carmel quarterback could decide what to do, Montoursville's Ben Cerney had him wrapped up and thrown to the ground for a sack.
It was only the first play of Friday night's game at the Silver Bowl, but it set the entire tone for Montoursville's 18-13 win over the Red Tornadoes. The Warriors' win was their first-ever in the 80-plus year old Silver Bowl in seven games since the teams began playing one another in 1992.
The Warriors dominated on the line of scrimmage, pushing around Mount Carmel on offense to the tune of 243 rushing yards, and penetrating the Red Tornadoes' offensive line to come up with five sacks.
It was a huge win for a still undefeated Montoursville team (5-0) which is just getting into the meat of its schedule.
"This is probably one of the most important games we're going to have," said Cerney, who finished with 2 sacks. "This was a statement game."
And the statement was quite pronounced. An offense which ran the ball effectively despite seeing 10 or 11 men in the box at times was complemented by a defense which held Mount Carmel to minus-33 rushing yards and 151 total yards of offense.
Missing two-way starter Curtis Miller because of an injury, Montoursville lined up much of the night offensive in a two-tight end set and pounded the ball. Alec Rothrock filled in brilliantly defensively for the Warriors, who allowed just over 65 yards of offense outside of an 86-yard touchdown pass from Wasilewski to Christian Kelly in the second quarter.
"We didn't have the personnel to spread it out," Montoursville head coach J.C. Keefer said. "So we were going to double double tight and run the football and let the defense win the game."
It was never comfortable for the Warriors, who had to stop a late fourth-quarter drive by Mount Carmel which got as deep as the Montoursville 34-yard line because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Warriors' defense forced Wasilewski to throw into coverage on third and fourth down for incompletions, and Warriors quarterback Griffin Dunne took a knee to give Montoursville its second regular-season win over Mount Carmel in the last two years.
"It's awesome for these guys," Keefer said. "I feel these guys can accomplish some things that haven't been done, and winning in Mount Carmel is one of those things. It's something they can hang their hat on."
Montoursville's offense persevered behind Cameron Ott's two touchdown runs and 202 rushing yards. The senior rushed for at least 100 yards in a game for the fifth time this year, and at least 200 yards for the third time.
He's just 3 yards short of his first career 1,000-yard rushing season with five games remaining. He's gotten there behind an offensive line which asserted its will at times against a Mount Carmel (2-3) defense which has allowed more than 700 rushing yards during its current three-game losing streak.
"The main goal this game was to get Cam his 1,000 yards," Cerney said. "Coach Keefer's plan was just run the ball and make them stop us."
"We had some explosive pass plays in our gameplan, but we didn't really need to use them because we were pounding the ball," Ott said. "They line was tremendous. I felt this week they were just confident going in with what they were doing. There weren't really any questions coming into the game and they just executed perfectly."
Like on the first play of the second half when Ott found a seam and went 80 yards for a touchdown to push Montoursville's lead to two scores. It was the same play the Warriors had used earlier in the game but been unsuccessful with.
But at halftime, the line made and adjustment, and with Ott hitting the line quickly from fullback instead of deep in the backfield, he was into the secondary before Mount Carmel could even react.
"We made an adjustment and they come out in the same thing they were in and pop, 80-yard touchdown," Keefer said. "We were waiting for the pop. If you give Cameron or (Alec Rothrock) a crease, they're going to get the yards. If you give them a hole, they're going to go the distance."
It was the last time Montoursville scored in Friday night's game. A Warriors defense which has yet to give up more than 14 points in a game this season was up to the challenge.
Mount Carmel had just one rush of more than 7 yards, and that was an 11-yard run by Wasilewski on a third-and-17 play. Mike Gilger was the Red Tornadoes' leading rusher with 7 yards. Mount Carmel had minus-21 yards rushing in the first half thanks to a bad shotgun snap, and minus-12 yards in the second half thanks to three sacks totaling 21 yards of losses.
The Red Tornadoes became a one-dimensional offense, and with the pressure being created by Montoursville's defensive front, that wasn't an easy task. Wasilewski was nearly dropped for a safety in the fourth quarter.
It was only because of a short punt which gave the Red Tornadoes the ball on the Montoursville 32-yard line in the third quarter that Mount Carmel was able to get back in the game. Wasilewski scrambled after being forced out of the pocket and found Trayvon White wide open in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 10:58 to go in the fourth quarter to draw Mount Carmel within 18-13.
"It was all fundamentals," Cerney said. "Just rip through the gaps and get to the quarterback. Just get pressure on (Wasilewski) and make him make a mistake."
"We have the best secondary that we've had at Montoursville in my time here, 13 years," Keefer said. "With those guys doing what they do back there, and our linebackers being able to cover or come, our defensive line can just play football."