Sunday QB: Harrisburg and Middletown find another gear; West Perry makes questionable call; thoughts on the crazy Colonial division and more

07 October 2018


Harrisburg 2

Harrisburg's Rynell Gantt Jr. eludes the tackle of State College's Sammy Knipe Saturday at Severance Field. (Adam Kulikowski/4th Down)

By Andy Shay: 

Two familiar names, Middletown and Harrisburg, are the clear-cut standouts from Week 7 in central Pennsylvania. Each one-loss Mid-Penn Conference division leader was pushed by a previously undefeated division foe that required a fourth-quarter answer.

The Blue Raiders and Cougars each made huge statements and sent warning signals to everyone in District 3 Class 3A and Class 6A, respectively. These are the teams to beat.

Let’s start with Thursday night at Henry Hershey Field, where Milton Hershey gave Middletown a true Capital Division test. I am not a fan of the non-Friday game, but this was a good one.

Here’s the bottom line: despite a couple gift turnovers that led to easy Middletown touchdowns, when the Spartans took a 21-20 lead with 10 minutes to play the winner was very much in doubt, right?

Actually that wasn’t the case. Once Milton Hershey took the lead in crunch time — and full credit to the Spartans for not over-celebrating with so much time on the clock — Middletown took over the game.

The Blue Raiders found another gear and sense of urgency after falling behind that was impressive. The Spartans defense that was doing a good job bottling up Middletown was helpless to slow down the train.

Two drives, two touchdowns … game over! In that tight moment after going down a point, Middletown knew exactly what it needed to do and the Spartans were helpless to stop them. It was impressive.

Fast forward to Saturday at Severance Field and how about this halftime score: Harrisburg 24, State College 3?

That says the Cougars were focused, ready and executed against the talented and previously undefeated Little Lions. This was a chance for Harrisburg to make a statement. Pretty sure a 21-point halftime lead did the trick.

Now, State College did show its mettle and rallied in the second half to close to within 24-17 with 6:39 to play. But once again it was the answer when pushed that stands out for Harrisburg.

The Cougars marched 64 yards in 10 plays to drain the clock and capped the drive with a touchdown run to put an exclamation mark on a 32-17 victory.

Adam Houser is my Player of the Week no matter who wins the vote. On the road at West Perry and trailing at halftime, all he did was light up the scoreboard with three second-half touchdowns while the Greyhounds defense tossed up a bagel on the Mustangs.

Houser finished with 153 yards on 26 carries and those three second-half touchdowns.

It was the first loss for West Perry, and the Mustangs can point to a stupid aggressive play call late in the first half to handing Ship life.

Leading 21-6 and on the verge of owning every ounce of momentum, West Perry called a trick play inside it’s own 5-yard line in the final minute of the second quarter.

Mustangs QB Kenyon Johnson threw a lateral pass to Jake Fadness, and then Fadness tried to throw the ball downfield as he was being dragged to the ground. The result was a pick-six by Ship’s Colton Musser 44 seconds before intermission that made it 21-12.

Inside the final minute of the half, backed up near your own end zone and leading by 15 points screams trick play to me, how about you?

Keeping momentum is much tougher than getting it, but gifting it to your opponent in a big game with a play call like that is a bad coaching decision that cost the Mustangs dearly. I get the “we are aggressive, this is who we are and what got us here” mentality. It has merit. So does game management.

Give Shippensburg credit for punishing West Perry for handing over momentum on a silver platter. The Mustangs never scored again, and Houser ran wild the second half. Keeping momentum is a lot harder than getting it. Tip of the cap to Ship.

Hey, the Mustangs are still 6-1 and still have a lot of options to choose from that define their 2018 season buffet. Even good teams lose games.

All the Palmyra Cougars do is win football games, right? The Cougars are 7-0 after bouncing Boiling Springs. Bigger and more thorough tests are ahead for the Cougars, but the 47-7 score was flat-out impressive. Boiling Springs has been a much tougher out this season.

Hey, Chambersburg running back Keyshawn Jones, how about taking your boys up front on the offensive line out to Buffalo Wild Wings today for a little NFL action and a few dozen wings, you treat?

The talented Trojans back shredded CD East for a career-high 298 yards (222 in the first half) on 31 carries and a pair of touchdowns in the tight road victory at The Speedway over the Panthers.

Those kind of numbers against what has been a solid run defense all season means the guys up front had a very good night.

Besides, offensive linemen like watching football and eating chicken wings, or almost anything for that matter.

Mifflin County is now officially a player in the chase for the Crazy Colonial title after edging Waynesboro on the strength of 267 total yards from QB Noah Wright.

The Huskies and Shippensburg are 3-1 in the division, and West Perry and Northern are each 2-1. These last three weeks are going to be fun!

QUICK HITS: Congrats to Mechanicsburg on getting win No. 1 of the season, a homecoming victory over Red Land thanks to 158 yards and two touchdowns from Joseph Bruno. It was the first home win for the Wildcats since 2014. … Cumberland Valley removed itself from the ranks of the winless by rallying from a 14-12 halftime deficit to drill Carlisle 35-14. The Eagles limited the Thundering Herd to fewer than 250 total yards. … Good to see Kyle Swartz back on the field for Northern. That injury he suffered last week appeared serious. All he did was run for 240 yards and three scores in a blowout of Susquehannock. … Susquehanna Township has won five in a row (insert shush emoji here). … Central Dauphin has responded well to each of its losses this season. That will serve them well come the second season, trust me. Going to Mansion Park and drilling Altoona 49-7 is impressive after a bad beat. Short-term memory, gentlemen, is the best memory.