HUGHESVILLE - A Hughesville punt pinned South Williamsport on its own 5-yard line for its opening possession on Friday night and when the Mounties broke their huddle, Spartan players and coaches were calling the South offensive plays.
More than the majority of the time during the opening possession, the Spartans had a good idea what was coming their way. They screamed across the field to their teammates, "Toss sweep, right." And sure enough, South Williamsport's Dominick Bragalone took a pitch from quarterback Matt Boone and ran toward the perimeter of the Spartans' defense.
Knowing what was coming and stopping it were two different things for the Spartans on a rainy Friday night.
South Williamsport's Dominick Bragalone is tackled by Hughesville's Jacob Stutzman during the game at Hughesville High School on Friday night. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
Bragalone rushed nine times for 87 yards on the 11-play, 95-yard opening scoring drive to set the tone for a memorable night for the junior running back who already surpassed 1,100 yards through the season's first five games.
The 87 yards were a small chunk of his dominance against the Spartans as he finished with 421 yards in a 38-20 victory, South's first at Hughesville since 2004.
"Dominick is an all-state football player if there ever was one," South Williamsport coach Chris Eiswerth said. "The line did the job and Dominick finished it."
Bragalone averaged 13.5 yards per carry and ran for five touchdowns.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior rarely went down on initial contact, minus the rare occasion Hughesville's Clint Snyder was able to wrap him up several yards down field after Bragalone's offensive line and fullback cleared out the initial wave of defenders.
He scored on runs of 5, 2, 20, 82 and 54 yards and now has 23 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards rushing this season. His 421 yards last night allowed him to break his own South Williamsport's single-game rushing record for the third time in five games.
"I didn't even think I had 400," Bragalone said. "At halftime I heard I had 200 and I was surprised because it didn't feel like it."
Despite the outrageous numbers by their running back, Bragalone and the Mounties (6-1) needed a big lift from the defense early in the third quarter when the offense made a rare mistake. A fumble gave Hughesville (0-6) the ball in South territory, trailing by just two scores (19-7). A long Logan Henry completion to Clint Snyder moved the ball to the South 15, but two more runs, a penalty and two incompletions led to a turnover on downs.
"That was tough," Hughesville coach Andy Brown said. "We had a chance to get a lot of momentum there and we didn't come away with it."
The next play, Bragalone broke free for an 82-yard touchdown run.
"He has a combination of strength and speed," Brown said. "It's not so much his size, but it's his strength. He is a strong runner and he doesn't go down on first contact. You can't arm-tackle him and you have to get two to three guys to the ball."
Hughesville pulled within 12 again on a Nick Yeager 13-yard run, but a John Peters 10-yard answer kept the Spartans fighting an uphill battle going into the final quarter.
Yeager, despite being overshadowed by Bragalone's record-setting performance, ran well for the Spartans. He finished with 119 yards and scored twice.
South Williamsport, which has roughed up winless Warrior Run and Hughesville by a combined 101-48 in the last two weeks after losing to undefeated Southern Columbia, travels to Sayre next week. Hughesville visits Loyalsock.