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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Liberty Division News and Notes: UD aiming for Liberty Division lead; Juniata set for fourth shutout in a row; Line Mountain gaining momentum; Newport seeking success and more

Maybe this is the weekend for Newport to celebrate some long-awaited success.

Todd Rothermel’s Buffaloes came mighty close in their last outing, falling in overtime 24-23 at Line Mountain when Zach Bates’s low placement attempt was knocked down by Chandon Maurer and a few others to preserve the one-point result.

Since Mid-Penn Liberty Division playmate and Perry County neighbor Susquenita (2-4, 1-1 Liberty) is en route to Katchmer Field this weekend, the Buffs (0-6, 0-3) must flush last weekend’s finish as quickly as possible and gird for a backyard scrap.

What Newport wants to see continue is the success Aiden Dishman had carrying the football against the host Eagles. Dishman enjoyed his most productive outing of the season, rushing 19 times for 209 yards while scoring touchdowns covering 45, 79 and 10 yards. Dishman’s final TD came in overtime, setting up the game-deciding kick that would force a second extra session or result in a Line Mountain win.

Although Dishman thrived against the Eagles, few others enjoyed similar success as the Buffs totaled 226 yards on the ground. QB Mason Messick picked up 17 yards on nine tries, but no one else netted one positive yard before.

Messick attempted just four passes, completing only a 23-yarder to Darian Cohick that was part of the late march that set up Bates’s game-tying 25-yard field goal. His first throw was intercepted and returned 42 yards for an early score that had Newport in arrears with just 1:13 gone.

Defensively, the Buffs were gouged a bit by a Line Mountain attack centered around sophomore running back Ian Bates, who carried the ball 34 times for 279 yards and two scores.

Bates broke up three passes, while Ethan Grove, Zach Bellis and Tyler Geer shared 20 tackles.

After flashing plenty of offensive firepower two weeks ago in a 35-21 conquest of Line Mountain, Susquenita managed just one score in a 10-7 loss at Camp Hill. So, the uncertainty as to which group of Blackhawks arrives at Katchmer definitely will have Rothermel worried.

If quarterback Derek Gibney can generate a rhythm throwing the football to receivers such as his twin brother, Drew, Blaise Swancer, Athan Robinson and Payton Garcia, the Blackhawks may have a good bit of success. Primary running back Bryce McKee also is a threat in the passing game.

Of course, Derek Gibney is a horse to bring down, so the Buffs will need to stay disciplined up front and not allow the 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior to break contain as he did early against Line Mountain.

Upper Dauphin can slide into Liberty lead

Since fellow leader Juniata is involved in non-league action this weekend, Upper Dauphin (4-2, 3-0) will take over the Liberty Division’s top spot if the Trojans can run their winning streak to four games at James Buchanan (3-3, 1-1).

Kent Smeltz’s Trojans had the ground game running at a full boil again last week, totaling 378 rushing yards while scoring seven touchdowns in a 56-13 conquest of Halifax. 

Brady Morgan rolled up 151 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries to lead UD’s ground assault, while Caleb Snyder added 72 yards and two scores on nine tries and Cole Wallace tacked on 70 yards and one TD on a mere six touches. Collectively, UD averaged 11.5 yards per carry.

Quarterback Aidan Bingaman did not throw often, but he did complete five of his eight passes for 78 yards – with one of his passes going to Konner Walker for yet another UD score.

Defensively, UD limited Halifax to 178 total yards. Tegan Engle topped the Trojans with eight stops.

James Buchanan was intercepted twice and lost one fumble in its decisive 48-0 loss at Juniata – JB yielded 421 offensive yards as well – the Rockets’ second consecutive setback.

Line Mountain hoping to use momentum

Able to hang on for a 24-23 victory in overtime against visiting Newport – a blocked placement attempt was the difference – Line Mountain hopes that narrow success can lead to another result this weekend when Brandon Carson’s Eagles (2-4, 1-1) visit Halifax (1-5, 0-3).

Scoring in all three phases – Quinn Dunkelberger returned an interception 42 yards for a score just 1:13 in, Max Johnson blocked a punt that led to a safety and the offense received a huge performance from Ian Bates – Line Mountain led 9-0 at one point yet found itself in a game-long fight.

Bates rushed for a career-high 279 yards on 34 carries, scoring on runs of 60 and 1 yards that came at critical times for Carson’s squad. Bates’s 60-yard scamper answered a 79-yard touchdown run by Aiden Dishman, allowing the Eagles to retake a 17-14 lead with a little more than nine minutes to go.

The Maurer brothers took care of the two-point try, as freshman Kaiden found junior Chandon rolling out of the backfield. Kaiden Maurer completed four of his 10 attempts for 49 yards in his first varsity start behind center, but almost all of the balls he threw were on target.

Bates’s 1-yard run and Brayden Boyer’s placement gave Line Mountain a 24-17 lead after the Eagles’ opening possession in OT.

Chandon Maurer and Dunkelberger finished with nine tackles apiece for the Eagles’ defensive unit, which registered 10.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks. Johnson added eight stops (3.5 tackles for loss).

Halifax trailed Upper Dauphin 49-0 after three quarters but scored twice down the stretch in the Wildcats’ 56-13 setback. Freshman Cohen Bechtel rushed for one touchdown, while classmate Teegan Carroll tossed a TD pass to Peter Ranck for another score.

Carroll was 7-of-14 passing for 82 yards, while Bechtel rushed seven times for 34 yards. Isaac Miller was the top ground gainer for Earl Mosley’s club, picking up 63 yards on seven tries.

Ranck finished with three catches for 32 yards.

Juniata seeking fourth shutout win in a row

Stepping out of Liberty Division play in Week 7, Juniata (4-2) is hoping to run its winning streak to four by bagging a road success at Boiling Springs (2-4). Kurt Condo’s Indians also are looking for their fourth consecutive whitewash – with the last three coming in league play.

Juniata’s latest victory came at home last weekend, when the Indians thumped James Buchanan by a 48-0 margin. Senior fullback Waylon Ehrenzeller rolled up 183 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 11 carries, fueling a ground game that riddled the Rockets for 299 yards.

Eight others carried the rock for the Indians, with Seth Laub, Aaron Kanagy and Caleb Smith posting touchdowns. Kanagy, who was picked off twice, was 5-for-8 passing for 122 yards and two scores – one each to Jasper Shepps and Jordan Dickinson.

Ehrenzeller also registered a team-high 10 stops for Juniata, which forced three turnovers.

Boiling Springs conceded nearly 500 offensive yards in a 54-21 loss to West Perry – which earlier blanked Juniata 24-0. Trey McCardell rushed 12 times for 100 yards and two scores (1, 60 yards), but he also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Liam Fisher that had the Bubblers tied 7-7 after one quarter.

Boiling Springs also is caught in a four-game skid after starting the season 2-0. Since defeating Bermudian Springs, the Bubblers have lost to Gettysburg, Steel-High, Trinity and West Perry.

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