Mounties 9-1 heading into D4 playoffs
HERNDON — Line Mountain was already staring at a mountain of a deficit. Even at just two scores, South Williamsport was controlling the football and the clock and limiting the number of chances the Eagles had to cut into that deficit.
Then a meticulous Mounties’ offense opened the third quarter with a dagger of a drive. With the painstaking detail of a steady-handed surgeon, South Williamsport took apart Line Mountain’s defense one run after another. Twelve plays later Ashton Martin was charging into the end zone for the second time Friday night and Line Mountain staring at a Mount Everest-like three-score deficit.
South Williamsport again dominated with its offensive line and running game in a 27-12 win over the Eagles at Glenn Ressler Field, capping a 9-1 regular season. As the No. 3 seed, South Williamsport will host Mount Carmel next week in the first round of the District 4 Class AA playoffs.
“That felt good. That drive was exactly what we needed,” Martin said. “We like to get up at least three scores otherwise we feel like we didn’t do our job as well as we could have.”
The Mounties’ secret to success at this point isn’t a secret at all. Their game film from each week might as well be a carbon copy of the week before. Martin said when he and his South Williamsport teammates are on the field, they can hear opposing coaches call out what play is coming. The Mounties don’t particularly care. They’re going to run it anyway, and like they did Friday night, they’re going to run it well.
South Williamsport carried 65 times last night for 325 yards. In fact, Gideon Green’s 42 carries were more offensive plays than Line Mountain ran all game (41). His 262 rushing yards pushed him past the 2,000-yard mark for the season.
And he did it all despite a muscle strain in his neck which left him susceptible to getting stingers. A handful of times last night the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Green had to take himself out of the game as he shook out a stinger.
It never slowed him down, though. Instead the battering ram running back hit linebackers and defensive backs with more force than a Mike Tyson punch to the jaw. Green carried nine times for 57 yards on that opening drive of the third quarter, ripping off runs of 11, 10 and 11 yards to set up Martin for a 1-yard plunge which gave the Mounties a 27-6 lead and ate up nearly half of the third-quarter’s time.
“We have to believe in ourselves to be able to do that,” Martin said. “We’re still going to run it and we’ll still ground and pound and punch them in the mouth. Eventually, they’ll slow up through the quarters.”
“Gideon, being dinged up, I thought he was a little rusty early on, but he did run extremely hard,” South head coach Chris Eiswerth said. “He’s so workmanlike, but I thought the offensive line imposed their will.”
And undersized Line Mountain team did just that last night. The Eagles played a phenomenal defensive game. They stuffed gaps and very rarely let Green and Martin (16 carries, 69 yards, 2 TDs) reach the second level untouched. Instead they forced the two to constantly change direction and finish every run with a lowered shoulder.
South Williamsport averaged 5 yards per carry last night and it earned every single one of those yards. The cleanest run for the Mounties was Martin’s 17-yard scamper for the game’s first touchdown just under 4 minutes into the game. Like he was shot from a cannon, he burst through the line from his fullback position and coasted over the goal line.
“Defensively they’re very good,” Eiswerth said. “I think we wore on them as the game went on. But I thought defensively they swarmed to the ball, they tackled well and played low. We had to earn everything we got. But I think ultimately our strength took over and it was just a little too much.”
It’s that grind-it-out kind of play which has become a staple of this program, whose seniors won their 40th career game last night. But it’s a two-way kind of grind for the Mounties. For a team which dressed just 28 kids last night and very well could be a Class A team during the next enrollment cycle, South has learned to take that methodical mentality to both sides of the football.
Last night it meant taking away any semblance of a running game from the Eagles. Tyler Boyer’s 4-yard carry on the second play of the game was the longest of Line Mountain’s 10 rushing attempts last night.
Instead, the Eagles tried to pick on the Mounties’ secondary. But thanks to a handful of dropped passes and some aggressive pass coverage by South Williamsport, quarterback Evan Herb completed just 11 of his 31 pass attempts. His 62-yard touchdown pass to Brenden Cregger in the first quarter was one of few chunk plays for the Eagles last night. And that touchdown came from a South defensive back getting caught looking in the backfield on a play-action fake.
“We like it when people pass on us because they think it’s our weak point,” Martin said. “Their offense caught some passes, but we got the job done. We’re a team that tries to help each other to be the best we can.”