Mounties score 25 straight

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Austin Nash of South Williamsport can’t quite pull in a pass thrown to him during the first half at Montgomery on Friday evening against the Red Raiders.

MONTGOMERY – A complete high school football game is 48 minutes, but Montgomery coach Paul Bozella said it best: “We played 3 1/2 quarters tonight.”

The Red Raiders held South Williamsport to zero points for 3 1/2 quarters, but the Mounties scored in its last three possessions and stole a 25-7 win at Red Raider Stadium at the Montgomery Area Sports Complex.

Montgomery who has much of its core players back from a season ago looked prepared to take on a bigger Class A South Williamsport squad, and for 3 1/2 quarters the small-sized Red Raiders had its way.

“I challenged them to dominate the line of scrimmage, and they did that. I challenged them to dominate at their positions and they did that. … For 3 1/2 quarters.” Bozella said.

With just seven minutes to go in the game, it seemed Montgomery would hang on, but on a pass play Brayden Strouse (6-22, 67 yards, one interception) rolled out to his right on a bootleg pass to Hunter Budman. The pass fell incomplete at the same time Strouse was chased down and clobbered by South’s Sam Livorno. That was when the game flipped on its head as Strouse left the game with a shoulder injury from the play. Which South felt the change of momentum and ran with it.

“We faced adversity tonight with (Strouse)’s injury, but at that point we were very much in place to win the game.” Bozella said with no more information yet on the extent of his quarterback’s injury.

Neither team could muster a big drive during the first half as both defenses were buzzing around the field as there was just one play inside the red zone. Rhyle Strausbaugh played a key role in keeping South off the score board as he had a scope of an eye for the football and seemed to have every tackle and disrupting plays in the backfield.

South Williamsport had one chance just before half time when it forced Montgomery to a four-and-out, and started the drive at its own 33 yard line.

Senior running back Gannon Guerrisky (30 carries 187 yards), who is yet another strong running back for the Mounties, started the drive with a 14 yard run up the middle dragging defenders with him to get some momentum going in the right direction. Later in the drive, senior quarterback AJ Flick completed an 18 yard pass to Luke Winner to get the Mounties in Montgomery territory. As the clock wound down Flick and the Mounties offense had one good shot at the end zone. Flick threw a pass to Austin Nash at the right front pylon which fell incomplete.

“We just couldn’t get our legs under us, we had plays but had a few drops, (Montgomery) was sending their defense,” South Williamsport head coach Chris Eiswerth said. “And then all of a sudden it clicked in the fourth quarter.”

Montgomery would get on the board first at the 3:15 mark in the third quarter when Hunter Budman (15-96, 1 TD) made a jump-cut at the line and a burst through the A-gap for a 30 yard touchdown run. The Red Raiders looked to score in its first drive which took six minutes off the board, but Cole Lentz put his hand up at the last minute to swat the ball away from Kalen Guyer at the goal line.

Montgomery would hold its lead for two more drives before the rushing attack South Williamsport is known for was able to wear down the defense. Guerrisky took a hand off for 22 yards, Flick ran an end around for another 14 and each play after that it would take more and more Montgomery players to bring down who ever was running the ball until South threw in a seven-yard pass play that Flick connected to Luke Winner to get the Mounties on the board.

“At halftime I told my guys to fight harder, and try to execute a little better. They did that and it finally showed there in the fourth quarter.” Eiswerth said.

Strausbaugh blew past the line to block the extra point to make it 7-6 Montgomery, but South Williamsport would jump on a Budman fumble and an interception on the next two drives and capitalize on each.

Flick and Winner connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass and Gannon Guerrisky punched through a seven-yard run for his first touchdown of the season to extend the lead to 18-7 with just under three minutes to play. Winner added his third touchdown of the night to close out the game with a 33 yard run which sealed the deal.

“Montgomery has a good team with a lot of their guys back, they fought hard and a very good game. Our guys just needed a little bit to come together, the offensive line gelled there at the end and Guerrisky and Flick had some success on the edge, our receivers were able to catch some there at the end. It was just a hard fought win.” Eiswerth said.

“We know who Montgomery football is,” Bozella said. “We played for 3 1/2 quarters, then the wheels started falling off and we couldn’t finish the game.”