Williamsport football wins for Campbell, Crews
Williamsport produced several highlights Saturday afternoon at Millionaire Stadium. It dominated all aspects, scored nearly every time it touched the football and recorded its second shutout this season.
But it was never about the Millionaires yesterday. It was all about the teammate whose name they literally kept close to their hearts all afternoon. And while defensive end Avery Campbell could not watch them in person, what a tribute his friends gave him.
Nassir Jones and Keith Freeman scored twice each, Frankie Morrone threw three touchdown passes and the defense dominated as Williamsport blanked defending 4A Eastern Region champion Dallas, 48-0, in its regular-season finale. Following the victory, Millionaire players — who wore “AveryStrong” T-shirts underneath their jerseys — took the game ball to Campbell. The junior defensive end temporarily is in a wheel chair and making rapid progress following a spinal contusion injury suffered last Tuesday against Harrisburg.
Without making a play against Dallas, Campbell still was the team’s MVP.
“It was really special. We were shelling out for Avery,” Jones said after catching five passes for 130 yards and adding 2 1/2 sacks. “This was all for him.”
“This game was for Avery,” two-way starting lineman Charles Crews said after a two-sack performance which included a forced fumble. “We strived to play for him (Saturday). That’s what we had to do.”
Williamsport also was thinking about head coach Chuck Crews who missed his second consecutive game while in quarantine and likely had him smiling as well. The Millionaires have overcome a lot this year, from COVID-19 uncertainty, to several key injuries, but have kept moving forward. Nothing changed despite this past week having been the most challenging yet.
The Millionaires were playing their second game in five days, coming off a 41-0 loss against state powerhouse Harrisburg. They had just two practices to prepare for a physical Dallas team and were grappling with Campbell’s situation as well. Through it all, players and coaches rallied around each other and delivered an emphatic win to send them into next Friday’s District 4-6 Class AAAAAA championship against Altoona at Bald Eagle Area High School.
“All week was about Avery and Chuck and the loss. After the loss we said we owe Avery a great effort and we owe coach Crews a great effort,” offensive coordinator and interim coach Kevin Brown said. “I told them (Friday) the thing I always hated about football is when you lost you had to wait a week to get after somebody. With this crazy week we had three days before we could get somebody, so we had to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Williamsport built a 20-0 halftime lead before overpowering Dallas throughout the second half and scoring on four straight possessions. The Millionaires outgained Dallas by 217 yards, did not surrender a second-half first down and forced three fumbles which produced touchdowns. Morrone went over 1,000 passing yards for the season, the offensive line jelled following a rough first half, and Williamsport inflicted the mercy rule by late in the third quarter.
Crews ignited Williamsport early, powering through the backfield and forcing a fumble on a third-and-7 from the 23-yard line. Linebacker Riley Bower scooped the ball up at the 20-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. On a short week, it was just the spark this team needed.
“I just saw an open gap and I went through it. I was just trying to help my teammates out,” said Crews, who has three sacks this week. “That gave us a big lift.”
The momentum carried to the offense as Jones started dazzling. Already an all-state defensive end candidate, Jones flashes his all-state tight end credentials as well, catching 24 and 72-yard touchdowns on consecutive series. Morrone was outstanding and completed 12 of 15 passes for 196 yards and his best throw came on a third-and-23 when he split two defenders and found Jones for the 24-yard score that made it 14-0.
The next time, it was Jones showcasing his explosiveness. Morrone threw a short sideline pass to Jones who quickly was hit by two defenders. Jones powered through them, maintained his balance while staying in bounds, then went the rest of the way untouched as his 72-yard score gave Williamsport a 20-0 lead. Jones finished with five catches for 130 yards, all coming in the first half.
“It was just me wanting to score,” Jones said. “It was just being an athlete and making plays.”
Williamsport made a lot of plays throughout the second half as it buried the Mountaineers under an avalanche of points. Offensive linemen Crews, Connor Adkins, Beau Smith, Austin Best, Joel Feleppa and Dade Splain overcame a rough start, worked together and started moving the pile as Williamsport both ran and threw effectively. The balanced offense had Dallas on its heels and Williamsport produced four consecutive touchdowns, the first two coming on impressive 11-play, third-quarter drives.
Freeman totaled 31 yards on the opening third-quarter drive, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown run. Freeman continued as a versatile threat on the next drive and Morrone made a nice throw on the run, finding him for a 10-yard touchdown. The ensuing two-point pass to Freeman made it a mercy-rule contest and allowed Brown to play his backups the entire fourth quarter. They were effective as well with George Whaley finding Nazir Washington for a 27-yard touchdown and Beau Pearson forcing a fumble before scoring on a 6-yard run.
“We have a couple things to correct offensively. We were far from clean. I just think our athletes sometimes made athletic plays, but it’s hard to complain with 48 points,” Brown said. “We made a few adjustments. They slanted us more than we were preparing for and it made it tough for us to get on the edge. At halftime we made a couple adjustments and those plays that we started moving it on plays were getting blown up in the backfield in the first half.”
The Williamsport defense blew up just about everything Dallas tried. The Mountaineers gained 172 yards with 25 coming on a bad punt snap and run, 60 coming on the first-half’s final play and 29 coming on a fourth-quarter run which resulted in a fumble. Take those away and Williamsport surrendered just 58 yards on 38 plays while adding five sacks.
Quarterback R.J. Wren never had time to settle in the pocket and plant his feet to make throws. Even when Williamsport did not get the sacks, they forced hurried throws. The problem for Dallas was it could not become one-dimensional and try pounding the ball on the ground because Williamsport crushed that dimension as well, allowing just 2.7 yards per carry.
“It’s all effort and everyone doing their job,” Jones said. “That’s how we get things done.”
“We just wanted to go out with a bang and get ready for Altoona next week,” Crews said. “We had to get our minds right today and just play our game.”
And this was a game that had to make the hard-working Campbell feel quite proud.
Williamsport 48, Dallas 0
Dallas 0 0 0 0 — 0
Williamsport 14 6 15 13 — 48
W–Riley Bower 20-yard fumble return (Elliott Wannup kick), 6:27
W–Nassir Jones 24 pass from Frankie Morrone (Wannup kick), 2:12
W–Jones 72 pass from Morrone (kick failed), 8:41
W–Keith Freeman 4 run (Wannup kick), 8:04
W–Freeman 11 pass from Morrone (Morrone pass to Freeman), 1:34
W–Nazir Washington 27 pass from George Whaley (Jett Johnson kick), 9:30
W–Beau Pearson 6 run (kick failed), 5:31
First Downs 6 18
Rushes-yards 27-74 33-166
Passing yards 98 223
Total yards 172 389
Comp-Att-Int 6-14-0 13-17-0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 2-0
Penalties-yards 3-20 6-55
RUSHING: Dallas, Zach Paczewski 1-29; Ben Fife 1-25; Rocco Ormando 11-24; Mark Karcutuskie 3-7; Nikolus Gashi 1-1; Ben Carpenter 1-(-1); RJ Wren 9-(-11). Williamsport, Nasir Hennigan 10-53; Keith Freeman 5-44; Beau Pearson 4-23, TD; Frankie Morrone 1-17; Nasir Williams 4-15; Stavon Jefferson 2-5; Damier Sams-Glover 4-5; Santino White 1-4; Cam Sims 2-0.
PASSING: Dallas, Wren 6-14-0, 98 yards. Williamsport, Morrone 12-15-0, 196 yards, 3 TDs; George Whaley 1-2-0, 27 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: Dallas, Fife 3-85; Zack Chamberlain 2-13; Ormando 1-0. Williamsport, Nassir Jones 5-130, 2 TDs; Sams-Glover 2-23; Nazir Washington 1-27, TD; Freeman 2-21, TD; Hennigan 1-13; DJ Greene 1-12; Sims 1-(-3).
SACKS: Williamsport, Jones 2 1/2; Charles Crews 2; Joel Feleppa 1/2.
RECORDS: Williamsport 6-1. Dallas 3-3.