Hughesville puts everything together, routs Warrior Run
As a defender closed in and prepared to drill him, Hughesville quarterback Luke Kaiser stood firm, launching a 50-yard pass. Joey Swink beat his man downfield, caught that rocket in stride and the two produced an 85-yard first quarter touchdown.
It was the perfect response two plays after Derek Thomas had returned a fumble for a score and one could almost feel the metaphorical baggage fall of Swink’s shoulders as he sprinted toward the end zone. A team which had been plagued by mistakes the first four weeks refused to let those keep them down anymore. They moved onto the next play and Saturday at Loyalsock, they kept making those next plays big ones.
Kaiser threw three first-quarter touchdowns, Brenden Knight ran for a career-high 177 yards and the defense allowed just 70 yards as Hughesville overpowered Warrior Run, winning 46-7 and giving coach Howard Rainey his first victory. The Spartans (1-4) scored the game’s final 46 points, controlled all aspects and showed how dangerous they can be throughout the seasonás second half if they build off this breakout performance.
“It feels good. The guys are finally starting to play like they’re capable of,” Rainey said. “This was the best week of practice we’ve had since we started here. Everybody was on board, everybody was doing what they needed to do.”
“You always have to keep your head up and that’s one thing about our team, we’re starting to figure that out,” Knight said. “Even though we make mistakes we can keep up and keep going and move forward.”
That is exactly what the Spartans did in this game originally scheduled for Friday at Hughesville before Thursday’s torrential rains forced it to be moved to Saturday at Loyalsock’s turf field. Hughesville lost fumbles on two of its first six plays, but did not sulk. It thundered back, scoring 25 first-quarter points, including touchdowns on three straight plays at one point. The Spartans built a 39-7 halftime lead, never took their foot off the gas and routed a team which was less than two minutes from victory at Central Columbia eight nights ago.
And the thing is, Hughesville has plenty of room to grow. It turned the ball over five times and still won by 39. Every journey has to start somewhere and if an upward one is beginning for the Spartans they may look at Loyalsock as the place it began.
“We needed this,” Knight said after scoring twice. “It was a good stepping stone for the team.”
“The fumbles scared us at the beginning of the game but we managed to pull it off. They finally noticed that we can rally from our mistakes and we came right back with that long pass and scored that touchdown right away it got them excited,” Rainey said. “We were able to do what we needed to do from there.”
Kaiser’s 85-yard bomb to Swink set off a 25-point, six-minute flurry. Three plays after Mason Hoppes recovered a fumble on Warrior Run’s ensuing possession, Kaiser rolled out and found Angelo Ferrigno for a 7-yard touchdown and Hughesville held its first lead this season. That also was the first of three touchdowns on three straight plays Hughesville produced.
Kaiser showed off his arm again on the next Hughesville series, finding Justin Fowler down the right sideline for a 51-yard touchdown. At that point, he was 3 for 3 for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Following another turnover, Aiden Barlett scored on a 5-yard run and Hughesville led 25-7, building that lead in just seven plays.
“I have to give props to Joey Swink and Luke, too. They brought us back into the game after we had a our heads down for a couple plays,” Knight said. “We turned it around real quick and it was a real good team win.”
Kaiser’s throwing opened up the run and Hughesville started dominating there as well. Linemen Brennan Hartman, Luke Turner, Chase Snyder, Bryce Burkhart, affectionately called Meatball, and Josh Applegate started exploding off the ball. Ditto fullback JJ Gabel who delivered some crushing lead blocks. Knight followed Gabel, burst through the holes which opened and effectively gained yards after contact as well while producing 148 yards over the game’s final 30 minutes.
After Kaiser broke containment and ripped off a 29-yard second-quarter touchdown run, Knight carried three straight times for 61 yards and scored on a 24-yarder as Hughesville took a 39-7 halftime lead. The line, Gabel and Knight continued surging in the second half and Knight’s 19-yard touchdown capped the scoring. Knight carried four times on that final scoring drive for 47 yards.
“The second quarter after we made a few big catches it loosened up the line and we were able to get that running game going,” Rainey said. “Our line felt more comfortable attacking. With our lead back (Gabel) pulling through there and Knight staying right on his tail and making his cuts, that was awesome.”
So was Hughesville’s defense.
The Spartans made Warrior Run a one-dimensional team and then crushed that dimension, surrendering just seven rushing yards and collecting four sacks. They also forced eight turnovers with Swink intercepting two passes. Ferrigno and Fowler also had interceptions and Turner registered two sacks. Quarterback Ryan Newton threw for 205 yards last week and Thomas has been one of the district’s most productive receivers but all facets of Hughesville’s defense were clicking and Thomas was limited to two catches for 17 yards.
Linebackers Hoppes and Gabel each delivered strong games, the line constantly was driving players back and the secondary blanketed receivers. As a result, Hughesville limited Warrior Run to 1.5 yards per play.
“I think our defense always has been our strongest point. Yes, we’ve given up a lot of points but they’ve been on the field quite a bit,” Rainey said. “It was good to get our offense rolling and get both units feeding off each other.”
Warrior Run defensive lineman Ethan Carper stormed into the backfield early in the game, forcing the fumble which Thomas returned for a touchdown. Linebacker Logan Smedley made 10 tackles and Isaac Butler intercepted a pass. The Defenders made big strides a week ago but hurt themselves with the turnovers and 15 penalties for 137 yards. Fourteen of those penalties came in the first half.
It was not the prettiest game at times with the rivals combining for 25 penalties, totaling 202 yards, and 13 turnovers. The first half alone featured 11 turnovers and 20 penalties.
But the result was a thing of beauty for Hughesville.
“It was a team effort. It was everybody and I’m glad we got the win,ã Knight said. “We finally got our heads turned around and on the right track.”
Hughesville 46, Warrior Run 7
Hughesville 25 14 7 0–46
Warrior Run 7 0 0 0–7
W–Derek Thomas 42-yard fumble return (Gavin Hunter kick), 8:14
H–Joey Swink 85 pass from Luke Kaiser (kick blocked), 7:23
H–Angelo Ferrigno 7 pass from Kaiser (Josh Heiney kick), 5:54
H–Justin Fowler 51 pass from Kaiser (kick blocked), 2:35
H–Aiden Barlett 5 run (pass failed), 1:23
H–Kaiser 29 run (Heiney kick), 6:49
H–Brenden Knight 24 run (Heiney kick), :59
H–Knight 19 run (Heiney kick), 1:22
TEAM STATISTICS H W
First Downs 18 7
Rushes-yards 39-200 26-7
Passing yards 184 63
Total yards 384 70
Comp-Att-Int 7-13-1 7-20-4
Fumbles-lost 8-4 5-4
Penalties-yards 10-65 15-137
RUSHING: Hughesville, Brenden Knight 23-177, 2 TDs; Luke Kaiser 5-47, TD; Aiden Barlett 4-8, TD; Kelby Gordner 1-7; Luke Stutzman 1-6; Joey Swink 2-3; Team 3-(-48). Warrior Run, Samuel Hall 10-16; Roman Pierce 5-10; Thomas Royles 3-8; Logan Smedley 2-1; Justin Blair 2-1; Gavin Getz 1-(-7); Ryan Newton 3-(-22).
PASSING: Hughesville, Kaiser 5-7-1, 154 yards, 3 TDs; Tyler Wetzel 2-6-0, 30 yards. Warrior Run, Newton 7-19-4, 63 yards; Gavin Getz 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: Hughesville, Angelo Ferrigno 3-26, TD; Swink 2-98, TD; Justin Fowler 1-51, TD; Knight 1-9. Warrior Run, Carter Marr 3-50; Derek Thomas 2-17; Smedley 1-0; Hall 1-(-4).
INTERCEPTIONS: Hughesville, Swink 2; Ferrigno; Fowler. Warrior Run, Isaac Butler.
SACKS: Hughesville, Luke Turner 2; Landen King; Jediah Webb 1/2; Chase Snyder 1/2.
RECORDS: Hughesville 1-4. Warrior Run 0-4.