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Montoursville rolls past Midd-West to climb back to .500

MIDDLEBURG – The Montoursville Warriors lived up to their moniker during Friday night’s trip to Middleburg to take on the winless Midd-West Mustangs. Montoursville scored on its first five possessions of the game en route to a dominant 42-6 road victory to climb back to .500 on the season at 4-4 overall.

“It’s nice to bounce back and get a win,” said Montoursville coach Mike Boughton, whose team dropped a close game against Mifflinburg last week. “The kids had a really good week of practice, and we were excited to get our season going in the right direction again. This was a game where we looked to get back on track, now we just have to build from here.”

Montoursville’s high-powered offense led by quarterback Maddix Dalena pumped out touchdowns both on the ground and through the air, thanks to an incredibly efficient night by the senior quarterback. Dalena failed to throw an incomplete pass, going a perfect 9 for 9 through the air with three touchdown passes that came on three consecutive passing attempts.

“Maddix is stepping up and being a leader for us,” said Boughton of his quarterback’s play. “Tonight, he hit what was there for him. Some nights he gets a little greedy and wants to go for the long ball because he has a big arm. That’s great sometimes, but sometimes we just have to hit what’s there. He did a great job of that tonight and put us in a great position.”

The Montoursville defense got things started on the night, holding the host Mustangs to a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive. A few powerful runs by Midd-West senior back Ethan Schlief could not net the Mustangs a first down, as they went on to punt the ball into Montoursville territory.

The Warriors used a handful of big plays to drive the field quickly. Senior running back Dylan Blackwell opened the game with a 15-yard run, while Dalena completed passes of 13 and 23 yards to Isaiah Fenner and James Batkowski on the drive that eventually culminated in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Dalena to Kayden Frame.

Frame would score a second receiving touchdown later in the game and found pay dirt via the ground game early in the second quarter.

Down 7-0 in the early going, Midd-West attempted some trickery to try to pick up a first down. The Mustangs ran a fake punt on fourth-and-three from the fifty-yard line but were denied a first down when the Montoursville special teams unit swarmed the Midd-West punter Schlief.

Following the turnover Dalena took a deep shot and connected with junior wideout Marco Pulizzi for a 33-yard score to go up 14-0.

Montoursville continued to pick up quick scores throughout the second half. The Warriors finished off a four-play drive with Frame’s second receiving touchdown of the night, and a two-play drive where Frame carried the ball on both plays for a combined 34 yards and a score.

Montoursville put the game into mercy rule territory in the second quarter when Rocco Pulizzi took his lone carry of the night in for a nine-yard score.

Midd-West stepped up to supply a defensive stop to close the opening half. Montoursville possessed the ball with a first-and-goal at the Midd-West nine-yard line. The Midd-West defense stuffed four consecutive plays to end the half on a high note, keeping the Warriors out of the endzone.

“We were expecting a tough game tonight and we got it,” said Mustangs’ coach Lance Adams, “I’m not making excuses, hats off to Montoursville, but they trotted out 50 dressed guys tonight and we trotted out 24. That makes a difference. We just have to clean up some things and improve. We’ve got two more weeks for these seniors, and we want to get them a win before they head out of here.”

Down 42-0 in the third quarter, Adams’ Mustangs stepped up and made a big play to get the team on the scoreboard. Schleif picked off Montoursville second-string quarterback Bryce Eberhart, taking the ball back to the Montoursville 15-yard line. Two plays later Schleif plunged into the endzone to help the Mustangs avoid the home shutout.

“All year long we’ve been getting ourselves down in the first half,” said Adams. “Teams have kind of whooped up on us for a bit and then we come to play. We play hard and see the game through no matter what the score is. Credit to our kids for having that kind of personality.”

Despite picking up the touchdown on the ground, Schleif did not finish as the Mustangs leading rusher.

Junior fullback Austin Dorman led the team in terms of yardage, picking up 37 yards on the ground on just four carries.

Blackwell just missed a 100-yard game as he led all rushers in the game with 98 yards coming on 12 carries. Fenner and Batkowski tied for the game’s leading receiver. Fenner caught a pair of passes for 42 yards, while Batkowski also recorded 42 receiving yards on three receptions. Midd-West fell to 0-8 overall this season and will look to earn its first victory of the season this coming Friday at Central Mountain (5-2).

Montoursville edges back to .500 on the season with the victory, leaving week 8 with a 4-4 overall record. The Warriors look to crack the .500 mark this coming Friday on the road against Central Columbia (2-5).

“We had a lot of guys that had to step up into roles tonight.” said Boughton. “Dylan Blackwell playing running back for us, we had a freshman (David Kennedy) playing some running back for us, Rocco Pulizzi scored on his one run tonight. We need to continue to see these guys step up if we want to make a run here late in the season.”

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