Mounties struggle early in victory

A winless team practices well heading into a rivalry game. An undefeated team starts slow.

It happens somewhere every week, and it happened Friday night at South Williamsport, where the Mounties struggled early with the aggressive Hughesville Spartans before scoring on their final five possessions to win, 39-7.

Landon Lorson’s 50-yard second-quarter interception return from the red zone denied the Spartans’ bid at their second lead of the game. It led to Luke Winner giving South the lead for good at 13-7 in the second quarter, but that was hard to imagine in the moment.

“We knew coming out that after they played Montoursville what, 66-0, that we were thinking above ourselves and that showed,” said South senior Luke Winner, who ran for a second-quarter touchdown and caught one in the second half. “The second half was better. We had a good talk at halftime, and we got the guys straightened out.”

South (3-0) entered by scoring 50 points in its two season-opening victories. Hughesville (0-3) came in off that shutout loss looking for a turnaround.

The Spartans did so right away, with quarterback Jacob Corson completing 17 of 28 passes for 219 yards, hitting Ethan Snyder 6 times for 105 yards. They turned the ball over on downs deep in South territory on the first drive, then used the field position gain from an ensuing Mountie three-and-out for a 7-0 lead off a line plunge.

“It came from a good week of practice,” said Hughesville coach Adam Gehr. “Last week was terrible and it showed Friday. This week was good and it showed. It didn’t go our way in the second half, turnovers and penalties, but that’s on us coaches to make better plays.”

South’s offense improved on its second drive, a five-play, 54-yarder ending with a Lane Lusk run to tie it. But Hughesville fought right back, with Corson hitting Devin Swank and Dylon Pequignot as the Spartans reached a third-and-goal at the South 12, midway through the second quarter.

That’s when Lorson got in the way of a sideline pass and returned it into Mountie territory, setting up his offense for the go-ahead drive. South coach Chris Lusk credited Lorson, also a sophomore quarterback, for his development through three games. That’s in addition to playing behind an underclass-laden offensive line led by veteran senior Dakota Hill.

Eiswerth also knew his team needed some adversity like this before the season turns to traditional District 4 powers in the second half, perhaps none more so than Southern Columbia in three weeks.

“I really think Hughesville has talent. Their quarterback is as good as I’ve seen,” said Eiswerth. “To go into the half 13-7, we were really fortunate.”

Lorson threw two touchdowns in the second half, a 20-yard screen to Winner and then a 5-yarder to Austin Nash.

Lusk scored again in the second half. So did Zach Miller, who finished with 101 rushing yards. Winner had 153. The final Mountie touchdown ended with a knee on the two-point conversion.

After opening with a touchdown, Hughesville’s drives the rest of the night ended on an interception, two fumbles, downs, and then another interception. Had the Spartans taken better control of the ball and not aided some South scoring with penalties in Spartan territory, the score would have been closer than 32 points.

That might not have satisfied the elderly man in a Hughesville hat who interrupted Eiswerth’s postgame on-field interview to say, “You ran the score up on Hughesville. Thank you!”

Eiswerth, after regaining his thoughts from that, just shrugged.

“We have 25 kids on our roster. We’re a single-A school,” said Eiswerth. “I guess we’re the bullies now.”