By Andy Shay:
MIDDLETOWN — There was never any doubt Friday night that Boiling Springs was in over its head against Middletown at War Memorial Field.
The Blue Raiders still won the football game, but it took a couple first-half gifts from the Bubblers and a big night from senior running back Tymir Jackson for Middletown to subdue Boiling Springs.
In a game where Boiling Springs actually had the last shot to win the game, it was the Middletown defense that came up with a big stop in a tight spot to preserve a 20-16 Mid-Penn Capital Division victory.
“I think this was a testimony to the hard work our kids have put in and how far we’ve come. This is a great measuring stick for us. Middletown has been the bully on the block for however long,” Boiling Springs head coach Brad Zell said. “For us to get where we want to get, you have to go through them. And we brought it tonight. That was a battle.”
Two mistakes in the first half haunted the Bubblers in this one, and took six critical points off the board in a tight game. Joey Menke, who finished with a team-high 101 yards on 12 carries, had a 37-yard touchdown called back for a false start with Boiling Springs trailing 13-3.
Later in that same drive the Bubblers had first-and-goal at the 2-yard line and Trey McCardell fumbled.
“That’s a really good football team we just beat. Give them credit,” Middletown head coach Brett Myers said. “It was good for us to compete against a physical team after not playing for two weeks.”
Middletown led 13-10 at the half and dominated the second half behind the running of Jackson, who finished with 175 yards on 29 carries and scored one touchdown.
The Raiders took the second half kickoff and marched to the Bubblers’ 1-yard line with first-and-goal. Jackson, who is a physical 5-foot-11, 210-pound battering ram, was turned away by the Boiling Springs defense for the first of its two second-half stands.
After the Bubblers punted, Middletown again ventured deep into Boiling Springs territory looking for the knockout punch to make it a two-score game only to be denied by the Bubblers defense.
“You look at the backs they have, to stop them inside the 10-yard line twice, that’s pretty impressive. I’m very happy with that,” Zell said. “I can’t fault our guys one bit. That was a heckuva football game.”
The third time was a charm for Middletown, though, when Byant Audrie raced 21 yards around right end on a jet sweep for a touchdown that put the Blue Raiders up with 4:44 to play.
“I called bad plays. I call the goal line stuff, and I just called bad plays,” Myers said. “We’re still not in a groove yet, we haven’t found our groove offensively.”
Boiling Springs didn’t go away quietly down 10 points with less than five minutes to play. The Bubblers, who had the ball twice and ran only nine plays the first 19 minutes of the second half, raced 54 yards in less than three minutes to make it 20-16. De’Von James capped the drive with a 5-yard scamper.
Then it got really interesting when Douglas Bear recovered a deflected onsides kick to set the Bubblers up at midfield with 1:43 to play. But the inability to complete a pass all night ended up being a huge difference maker, and when Boiling Springs had to throw it just wasn’t in the cards.
“Their pressure when we tried to pass … it might have been the difference in the game, really,” Zell said. “We had those two mistakes in the first half, and those hurt. But we battled back and didn’t let them kill us. You have to throw against a team like that. And we couldn’t get that part of our game going tonight.”
BLUE RAIDERS 20, BUBBLERS 16
Boiling Springs 3-7-0-6—16
BoS-FG Jack Laing 32, 7:09
M-Julian Nester 40 pass from Julio Rodriguez (Nolan Sessa kick), :11
M-Tymir Jackson 18 run (kick failed), 7:43
BoS-Joseph Menke 45 run (Laing kick), :49
M-Byant Audrie 10 run (Collin Shaffer kick), 4:52
BoS-De’Von James 5 run (kick blocked), 1:48
Team stats BoS M
First downs 13 19
Rush-yards 47-238 46-253
Passing 0 87
Comp-Att-Int 0-8-0 6-11-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-Avg. 4-29 1-49
Penalties-Yards 3-35 5-55
RUSHING: Boiling Springs, Joseph Menke 12-101, Aidan Metzger 12-57, De’Von James 15-52, Trey McCardell 6-21, Colin Lunde 2-7; Middletown, Tymir Jackson 29-175, Tajae Broadie 10-62, Byant Audrie 4-15, Jaydon Wotring 1-3, Team 2-(minus-2).
PASSING: Boiling Springs, Lunde 0-8-0—0; Middletown, Julio Rodriguez 6-11-0—87.
RECEIVING: Boiling Springs, None; Middletown, Julian Nester 2-34, Broadie 2-22, Terrell Daniels 2-31.