Warriors rebound from loss and handle Green Dragons

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette Nolan Ott of Montoursville runs Friday night vs. Lewisburg.

After losing to Loyalsock last week in “The Battle of the Bridge” game, plain and simple Montoursville’s football team wasn’t happy in the least. The Warriors didn’t play as capable as they could.

As they prepared for Friday night’s game against Lewisburg, the Warriors knew they had something to prove. They had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to make a statement.

It didn’t take long for Montoursville to show just how well they’re capable of playing.

The Montoursville defense played as solid as it could, Brycen Mussina threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns and Montoursville shut out Lewisburg in the District 4 Class AAA semifinals at Mem­orial Stadium in Montoursville, 34-0.

The Warriors will host Danville on Friday for the district championship.

“They had a chip on their shoulder. They were not happy last Friday. We played flat. Our playmakers, the guys we’ve hung our hats on all year, did not play well and they knew that and a couple guys had big games tonight,” Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said.

Montoursville began the game scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions, both of which were nice passes from Brycen Mussina to Mitchell Rothrock, to take an early 14-0 lead over the Green Dragons. Mussina had 207 passing yards for the Warriors, targetting Tom Shea five times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Rothrock ended with three receptions for 56 yards and had two touchdowns.

Nolan Ott didn’t score a touchdown, but the back led the way on the ground with 77 rushing yards on 20 carries, repeatedly picking up first downs when needed. He had nine runs of at least four yards.

“When you can get into a rhythm offensively, somebody said ‘you had a tough time running.’ We’ll take two, three yards every time and we know Nolan or Torin’s going to pop a five, six yarder,” Keefer said. “We were committed to running the football tonight, however you can’t just run it four, five, six times in a row when you have Brycen and the weapons that we have. If you can establish the run, it sure opens up that passing game a lot more. It’s something we’re committed to. We wanted to run the football and play better defense, and we did both those things.”

Montoursville’s defense played extremely well from start to finish against the Green Dragons. On the first six Lewisburg possessions, Montoursville’s defense recorded a sack and the Warriors ended the game with seven sacks, all of which were in the first half. Bryce Ranck had 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery, Owen Hoffman and Chris Bushyeager both had two sacks and Torin Lewis combined with Ranck on a sack. Montoursville forced and recovered two fumbles and Ott had an interception.

In addition, Lewisburg struggled to get any sort of running game going, rushing for minus-1 yard on 22 carries and quarterback Nicholas Shedleski was hurried or hit on just about every play when he attempted to pass. The Green Dragons struggled moving the chains, going 1 for 10 on third down conversions.

“That was kind of the game plan, we wanted to put some pressure on them. They have some talented receivers and kind of wanted to get to them before they could put the ball up. If you blitz, you’re leaving your corners and safeties on an island, so ouir front seven did a fantastic job getting after it,” Keefer said. “To have seven sacks at half, I don’t care what kind of offense you have, you can’t recover from that. That really set the tone for us and it takes pressure off of offense.”

Early in the second quarter, Lewisburg got the ball on Montoursville’s 22 yard line. With a fourth-and-16, Shedleski dropped back and hit Dylan Farronato on a slant  for the first down Farronato was hit right before the goal line, and tried to stretch to pick up extra yardage, but ended the ball ended up slipping out of his hands before he was down, and Montoursville recovered for a touchback in the endzone.

The turnover cost the Green Dragons their best chance of scoring all night, and could have shifted some momentum had they ended up scoring and trailing by just a touchdown.

“Obviously it killed momentum. Dylan just tried to make a play, just tried to make a good play even better stretching it to endzone. Cold, slick out, tough to get a hand on,” Lewisburg coach Michael Ferriero said. “We get down there and it’s just first-and-goal from 2. Who nows what happens. 14-7 and then lets see what happens. Again, that’s just what happens during games.”

Lewisburg lost two fumbles and Shedleski threw an interception. Shedleski did have some success in the air, ending the night with 139 passing yards and Farronato had 105 on six receptions.

After the 14-0 lead early, Montoursville settled for a 24-yard field goal and a 28-yard field goal in the second and third quarters, respectively, to build a 20-0 lead. It was then Torin Lewis who capped a six-play drive with a five yard touchdown run for a 27-0 lead.

Montoursville’s final score came with 6:35 to play in the game when Mussina hit Shea for a 12-yard touchdown pass for the 34-0 lead.