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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Liberty Division News and Notes: UD back in form; Juniata aims for another division shutout and more

Although the Upper Dauphin ground game needed a few weeks to locate what works and who’s in fine form, the Trojans hope to unleash its potent running attack yet again.

Here’s a guess that surpassing 340 collective rushing yards in back-to-back outings – and bounce off victorious in both contests – just isn’t enough for Kent Smeltz’s program. So, will they make it three in a row this weekend when neighboring Halifax (1-4, 0-2) makes the short jaunt up Rte. 225 for a Mid-Penn Liberty Division encounter?

What adds to UD’s productive ground assault – admittedly, it is difficult to prepare for the Trojans’ Pistol Wing-T scheme in a single week – is Smeltz’s club (3-2, 2-0) has had multiple 100-yard rushers fueling those numbers and three players reach that mark overall.

Last weekend, in a 41-20 conquest of host Newport, senior Branden Fetterhoff uncorked a career-best effort by rushing for 135 yards and scoring three times on just 14 attempts.

Trailing 7-6 midway through the second quarter, Fetterhoff wheeled 48 yards for his first score as UD grabbed its second lead of the night. The speedy senior added touchdown runs of 4 and 15 yards after the halftime break as the Trojans created separation and won going away.

Brady Morgan also carried the ball 14 times, collecting 115 yards and a 4-yard score just before halftime as the Trojans took a 20-12 lead that put them in front to stay. Morgan also caught four passes for 29 yards as QB Aidan Bingaman threw for 174 yards.

Bingaman’s numbers – he completed 13 of his 17 pass attempts; Bingaman’s lone interception was returned for a score – helped the Trojans pile up 500-plus offensive yards.

Another cog in UD’s rushing game has been Konner Walker, who gained 100-plus yards in a Week 4 triumph over Susquenita. Walker rushed four times for 33 yards, but caught four passes for 62 yards as Bingaman spread the ball to four targets.

Walker did flash his speed in the third quarter, answering Newport’s blocked punt return for a score by taking the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the house. Eli Farence also put together some fine offensive numbers, hauling in four Bingaman aerials for 72 yards.

Tegan Engle paced the Upper Dauphin defense with eight tackles – he recorded one of the Trojans’ seven tackles for loss – and fell on one Newport fumble. Smeltz’s bunch authored five takeaways, recovering three fumbles and picking off a pair of passes.

As UD was vanquishing Newport, Earl Mosley’s Halifax club was getting blanked 55-0 by reigning Mid-Penn Liberty champion Juniata at home. The Wildcats trailed 41-0 at halftime.

Mosley’s remarkably youthful group managed just 48 offensive yards against Juniata’s stingy defensive unit – 27 on the ground and 21 through the air. Plus, freshman quarterback Teegan Carroll was sacked six times, twice by lineman Jonathan Kauffman.

The Wildcats also were bumped up defensively, as Juniata totaled 400-plus offensive yards despite 16 stops from junior linebacker Isaac Miller. Miller also recovered one fumble, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Halifax from tumbling to defeat for the second straight week.

Juniata seeking third Liberty Division shutout in succession

Back at home this weekend following its successful trek to Halifax, Juniata (3-2, 2-0) will be chasing its third consecutive Mid-Penn Liberty whitewash when James Buchanan pays a visit to Klingensmith Stadium to square off against the reigning Liberty champs.

Since league play kicked off two weeks ago, Juniata has blanked Newport (36-0) and Halifax (55-0) in succession while climbing into a share of the Liberty lead with Upper Dauphin.

While Kurt Condo’s Indians rolled up 258 rushing yards against the Wildcats – 12 players carried the football before the game came to a close – Waylon Ehrenzeller needed just seven attempts to rack up 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Seth Laub also scored twice for Juniata, posting 27 yards on just three attempts as the Indians broke out to a 41-0 advantage.

The Indians also threw for 154 yards as Aaron Kanagy (8-17-0-91), freshman Jasper Shepps (1-1-0-53) and Wyatt Ehrenzeller (1-1-0-10) took turns sharing the passing load. Shepps tossed the lone touchdown pass, hooking up with Grant Reinhold for a 53-yard score.

Condo utilized lots of players defensively before the night was over, but the Indians were able to sack freshman quarterback Teegan Carroll six times for (minus-35 yards). High-motor senior lineman Jonathan Kauffman put Carroll on the ground twice.

James Buchanan (3-2, 0-1) returns to Mid-Penn Liberty action after suffering a 51-8 loss to undefeated West Perry in a non-league contest. While the high-octane Mustangs opened a 51-0 lead by halftime, they finished with nearly 360 offensive yards.

Quarterback John Stoner found some room to operate, collecting 55 rushing yards on 14 attempts and 15 through the air (2-9-0). Stoner squeezed over from a yard out to spoil the West Perry shutout with just 19 seconds showing on the clock.

Newport skipper Todd Rothermel returns home yet again

Although his Newport Buffaloes (0-5, 0-2) have been pestered by season-long struggles, head coach Todd Rothermel would enjoy nothing more than to skipper his ballclub to a win over Line Mountain – his alma mater – and send the Ressler Field faithful home cranky.

Rothermel’s Buffs showed some flashes last weekend, scoring in all three phases of the game before falling at home to Upper Dauphin by a 41-20 count. Newport took a 7-6 lead with 4:19 gone in the second quarter when Mason Messick threw a 33-yard TD pass to Darian Cohick.

Although UD cashed in on a long TD run to retake the lead, the Buffs responded by going back in front (14-12) with 1:24 to go in the half on Travis Lilly’s 53-yard interception return.

The visiting Trojans scored just before the halftime break and early in the third quarter to make it 26-14, but Ethan Grove’s 10-yard return of a blocked punt had the Buffs down six with 6:32 to go. Unfortunately for the ‘Port, UD scored twice to pull away to the victory.

Messick wound up completing six of his 14 pass attempts for 88 yards and his throw to Cohick – he was picked off twice – while Aiden Dishman led the Buffs with 48 rushing yards on 10 tries.

Line Mountain (1-4, 0-1) fell behind by two scores early and had to play uphill throughout its Mid-Penn Liberty opener yet wound up losing 35-21 at Susquenita.

Tharon Wagner and Ian Bates rushed for touchdowns – Wagner’s first-half scoring run covered 61 yards, while Bates cashed in from 17 yards out after the break – while Kaiden Maurer lofted a 64-yard touchdown pass to Connor Finlan that pulled the Eagles within 35-21.

Freshman Max Johnson finished with six tackles from his defensive end spot, with four stops coming behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson also recorded his club’s lone QB sack.

We’d be remiss for not mentioning how tight last year’s encounter was, as Line Mountain prevailed 13-10 at Newport. The Eagles, however, didn’t firm up the result until inside backer Chandon Maurer knocked down a fourth-down pass to douse Newport’s flickering hopes.

Susquenita stepping out of league play

Still abuzz following its 35-21 conquest of visiting Line Mountain, Susquenita (2-3) will collide with former Blue Mountain League playmate Camp Hill (4-1) on the road. Since both sides like to toss the ball around the yard, this one may take a while to complete.

Augie Glass’ Blackhawks opened a 13-0 lead last weekend, constructing that cushion with 4:56 gone on a pair of touchdown runs by Derek Gibney (29, 1). Although Line Mountain answered, ‘Nita responded with a 32-yard by Hunter Thomas and Wyatt Jumper’s 4-yard TD run.

Gibney flashed his strong right arm throughout – he had a 49-yard pass to Blaise Swancer erased by a holding penalty just before halftime – throwing TDs to Athan Robinson (24 yards) and Payton Garcia (19 yards) as Susquenita kept the Eagles at arm’s length.

Gibney completed 14 of his 24 pass attempts for 229 yards and those second-half scores – he was picked off twice – with twin brother, Drew, latching on to four aerials for 99 yards.

The Blackhawks also benefited by falling on three Line Mountain fumbles.

Camp Hill tacked up its latest victory without playing, as Tim Bigelow’s Lions were awarded a forfeit win over Middletown since the latter’s season was scrapped for a hazing incident.

Two weeks ago, Camp Hill lost a 16-6 contest at Big Spring despite 228 passing yards and one TD from Drew Branstetter (25 of 36). Alex Long caught eight passes for 59 yards and the Lions’ lone score, while Tommy Corbin and Kobe Moore shared 10 receptions for 90 yards.

Senior Luke Parise enjoyed a monster outing defensively, recording 19 stops with four tackles behind the line of scrimmage. All four TFLs were credited as quarterback sacks.

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