Defending D4 A champs start with win

TURBOTVILLE — Muncy’s defense easily could have felt sorry for itself late in the fourth quarter when a possible game-winning interception slipped through its hands and into the waiting arms of Warrior Run’s Riley Daubert, extending a potential game-tying drive. It was a moment that could have been a season changer just one week into the 2017 campaign. Another big play followed and Warrior Run lined up for its next play in Muncy territory.

A year after starting the season 0-1, Muncy wasn’t about to allow itself to follow that script again. Instead, it’s championship pedigree, it built throughout last year on its way to the District 4 Class A championship, stood up. A key sack by Michael Kustanbauter set the Defenders behind the sticks and they never fully recovered as Muncy held on to a thrilling 21-14 victory.

“I’ll admit when they started to get farther down the field that my heart skipped a couple beats, but I knew we’d come through and I knew we could do it,” said Muncy’s Larry Bilyeu who was a menace in the Warrior Run backfield all night long with several of his teammates.

Muncy’s big guys were just as effective on the other side of the ball, as well. Bilyeu from his guard position and the rest of the line paved the way for Colby Alpaugh’s stellar night. The senior sliced through the Warrior Run defense for an impressive 157 yards on a well-earned 27 carries. He scored on runs of 12 and 3 yards in the first quarter before scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 31-yard touchdown catch in the second.

“We’ve put a big emphasis on the guys up front last year and this year that is really paying off,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said, a former offensive lineman himself. “I love the way the O-line is playing and I couldn’t have asked more from them.”

Alpaugh’s grab in the second quarter came on a fourth-and-10 play and off the arm of Coleman Good who lofted a perfect ball down the center of the field and just over the outstretched arms of a Warrior Run defender.

The second of Alpaugh’s two first-quarter touchdowns ended a wild first six minutes of the season for both teams.

Before Muncy could celebrate a season-opening lead after a well executed drive that mixed several runs around a pair of 23-yard completions by Good, Warrior Run’s Pacey Howard took the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a tying touchdown.

The teams weren’t done trading blows. Muncy came right back just over a minute later with Alpaugh scoring from 3 yards out. Again, though, the lead was short-lived.

Facing a fourth-and-short, Warrior Run decided to go for it on its side of the field. Quarterback Gage Anzulavich surprised the Muncy defense when he tucked the ball under his arm, raced around the end and down the sideline for a 61-yard score with still 6:16 remaining in the first quarter.

It was the lone blemish against a rather stellar night for the Muncy defense that held Warrior Run to 213 total yards and constantly pushed the pocket on the 6-foot-4 Anzulavich.

“They caused havoc because we weren’t able to execute on first down and then they were able to pin their ears back on second and long and third and long,” Warrior Run coach D.J. Flick said. “We didn’t have an answer for them.”

Both teams’ defenses and special teams finally began adjusting to the speed of the game after the chaotic first six minutes and a sure shootout turned into an early-season slugfest in the second half.

The teams combined for four consecutive three-and-outs to begin the third quarter.

The number of three-and-outs could have easily grown for both teams, but later in the half the teams began trading losing the ball on downs, including Warrior Run on its own 32-yard line with three timeouts and over five minutes remaining.

The Indians, though, couldn’t push its lead to two scores as they missed a 29-yard field goal to the right with 3:18 remaining, setting up Warrior Run for its final drive that ended on a fourth-and-3 at the Muncy 28.