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Ty Nixon helps propel Muncy to win against Warrior Run in Week 1

TURBOTVILLE–Ty Nixon disliked rehab. But he hated being a spectator.

The Muncy running back/cornerback missed half his freshman year with an injury before missing his entire sophomore year after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus. For a long time, it seemed like Nixon might not play as a junior either because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How great Nixon felt then finally playing football again Friday night at Warrior Run. Nixon hit holes hard, defenders even harder and recorded his first 100-yard game. His play was contagious as two-time defending District 4 Class A champion Muncy played well in all facets and defeated Warrior Run, 32-7.

“It was so tough missing all that time. That rehab is no joke. I was motivated to get back out here and play and show what I could do,” Nixon said after running for 100 yards on 15 carries. “We didn’t even know if we’d get a chance to play and it’s tough not knowing if you’ll get a season in, so we just have to enjoy this opportunity and make the most of it.”

That attitude was shared by both teams after the season was delayed two weeks and after both had their original openers canceled earlier in the week. Warrior Run was going to host Loyalsock until the Lancers had to cancel because of COVID. Ditto for Muncy which was scheduled to play at South Williamsport. Hours later, however, Warrior Run and Muncy agreed to play each other.

Neither team cared that they had one day to prepare to play each other and install game plans. They were just excited they were playing, period.

“The kids didn’t care who they played,” Warrior Run coach Chris Long said. “They would play anyone, anywhere.”

“This is something I always look forward to,” Muncy two-way lineman Isaac Harris said after putting together an excellent performance. “It’s my favorite part of the year and I just love playing. Normally, every year coaches are always saying we can guarantee you 10 games and that’s it. This year they said we can’t guarantee you any games, so play as hard as you can and play it like it’s your last.”

Even before COVID wreaked havoc, Nixon had adopted that philosophy. He already had learned how precious these games and these moments are. And back on the field for the first time in two years, Nixon followed his coaches advice all night long.

Nixon was one of six Muncy ball-carriers in a loaded back field who averaged at least five yards per carry. As the game progressed, Nixon’s runs became more punishing. His final carry, a hard-earned seven-yard gain, summed up his performance. Nixon exploded into the hole, made a defender miss and gained some extra yardage after being hit.

“Missing all of last season and then not knowing if we were going to get a chance to play this season, you just want to make the most of it and take everything in,” Nixon said. “It felt great being out there again and getting to hit some people.”

“It was so great to see Ty Nixon back on the field. We were really excited last year having him as a sophomore coming in and it was tough seeing him get hurt and having him miss the season,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said. “That whole offseason he was getting healthy and more flexible and stronger and it’s great to see him hitting the holes hard.”

Harris and fellow linemen Xander Brown, Travis Fogleman, Josiah Meza and Gavin Hillman hit the opposition hard all night, too, setting a physical tone. Muncy averaged 6.9 yards per carry with Paul Pepper scoring twice. All-state running back Ethan Gush produced 81 yards on 10 carries and quarterback Branson Eyer (157 total yards) capped a 59-yard game-opening scoring drive with an electrifying 17-yard touchdown run. Eyer rolled left on third-and-long a series later, finding Chase Crawley (2 catches, 92 yards) for a 71-yard touchdown, putting Muncy up, 13-0.

Muncy went up 20-0 in the second quarter when Pepper scored the first of his two 8-yard touchdowns. The Indians produced 409 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per play, showing the same kind of physicality and production that carried to last year’s state quarterfinals.

“Because we didn’t know until Wednesday night we were playing Warrior Run, the linemen didn’t see any film on them so I thought we came out and did a pretty good job,” Harris said after adding seven tackles. “We didn’t know what offense or defense we were playing. We installed everything Thursday so it was all kind of new but we pulled through and we got the win.”

Warrior Run returned just three starters from last year’s District 4 Class AAA semifinalist, but showed some promise. The Defenders had chances throughout the game, but were stopped three times inside Muncy territory. Muncy linemen Matt McCauley made one of the first-half’s biggest plays when he dropped Justin Blair for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-two from the Indians’ 27-yard line.

The Defenders took momentum into halftime, however, after mounting an eight-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Nathan Michael (122 total yards) found Coltin Pentycofe for a 35-yard gain to ignite the drive. Michael then made a good throw on a third-and-goal fade route, hitting Pentycofe for a 2-yard touchdown, making it 20-7.

“There were positives where we moved the ball. There were things we can build on,” Long said. “We adjusted and put together a nice drive at the end of the half so there were things we did well.”

That included a fourth-quarter stand in which Warrior Run forced Muncy to turn the ball over on downs after having a first-and-goal at the 6 and second-and-goal at the 2. Ethan Carper made a big hit on second down for a three-yard loss and Michael stopped Pepper at the 3-yard line to end the threat. Muncy, though, controlled much of the second half and put together impressive scoring marches in the third and fourth quarters.

Gush rumbled for a four-yard score before Pepper capped the scoring with his second eight-yard touchdown. The defense was equally impressive, stifling Warrior Run’s running game and playing well in all three facets. Linebacker Bailey Hadzinikolov was a force, topping 10 tackles, making three tackles for loss and adding a sack. Linebacker Jason Shuda made some big stops in his first varsity start and both Gush and Crawley also were in on many tackles.

Muncy waited a long time to play and when the opportunity came last night, all its players seized the moment.

“We have the mantra anybody, anywhere, anytime. We told them we’re putting that to the test this year,” Tetreault said. “Our kids were excited and they’re happy to be playing Friday night football again.”

Muncy 32, Warrior Run 7

Muncy 13 7 6 6–32

Warrior Run 0 7 0 0–7

First Quarter

M–Branson Eyer 17 run (Loudon Boring kick), 9:28

M–Chase Crawley 71 pass from Eyer (kick failed), 4:01

Second Quarter

M–Paul Pepper 8 run (Boring kick), 3:28

W–Colin Pentycofe 2 pass from Nathan Michael (Noah Pick), :12

Third Quarter

M–Ethan Gush 4 run (kick blocked), 4:13

Fourth Quarter

M–Pepper 8 run (kick blocked), 2:22

TEAM STATISTICS M W

First Downs 15 10

Rushes-yards 41-282 36-166

Passing yards 127 64

Total yards 409 230

Comp-Att-Int 5-9-0 5-9-0

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 7-60 5-23

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Muncy, Ty Nixon 15-100; Ethan Gush 10-81, TD; Elijah Weikle 6-35; Branson Eyer 4-30, TD; Paul Pepper 5-25, 2 TDs; Bailey Hadzinikolov 1-11. Warrior Run, Hunter Rovenolt 5-64; Nathan Michael 11-58; Justin Blair 18-37; Logan Smedley 2-7.

PASSING: Muncy, Eyer 5-9-0, 127 yards, TD. Warrior Run, Michael 5-9-0, 64 yards, TD.

RECEIVING: Muncy, Chase Crawley 2-92, TD; Ross Eyer 2-27; Brady Ryder 1-8. Warrior Run, Colin Pentycofe 2-37, TD; Rovenolt 1-25; Tanner Confair 1-5; Blair 1-(-3).

SACKS: Muncy, Hadzinikolov.

Records: Muncy 1-0. Warrior Run 0-1.

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