By Michael Bullock:
Inside The Mid-Penn Conference
Each week during the 2020 season we’ll offer some news, notes, tidbits and opinions from each of the five divisions in the Mid-Penn Conference.
Susquenita, James Buchanan seeking to crack win column
Despite amassing more than 500 offensive yards last weekend, Susquenita (0-3, 0-2 Liberty) was unable to reel in its first victory and dropped a 48-31 decision at Upper Dauphin. Austin Kenny rushed 19 times for 171 yards and one touchdown, while freshman Bryce McKee made seven catches for 152 yards and another score. Derek Gibney, another freshman, tossed a pair of touchdown passes for Scott Acri’s Blackhawks and rushed for a third score. Acri’s bunch will make the lengthy jaunt to James Buchanan (0-2, 0-0), which will make its Mid-Penn Liberty debut just four days after losing 47-22 at Annville-Cleona in a hastily assembled matchup. Cliff Pine’s Rockets were slated to meet Newport last weekend, but a COVID-19 flare-up put the Buffaloes on hold indefinitely. Caden Stoner rushed for one touchdown and hooked up with Logan Miller for another score in JB’s loss at A-C. Hunter Smith accounted for the Rockets’ third score with a 13-yard touchdown run. A-C really punished JB on the ground, collecting 368 rushing yards and seven TDs.
Backyard scrap between Halifax and UD on tap
Chasing its initial victory, Halifax (0-2, 0-2) will welcome neighboring Upper Dauphin (1-2, 1-1) Saturday night in a matchup of northern Dauphin County playmates. Earl Mosley’s Wildcats are coming off a 48-21 setback at Line Mountain, a Mid-Penn Liberty scrap highlighted by Micah Deitrich’s 232 yards passing (17-29-2). Deitrich threw three touchdown passes — all to Ryan Stahl (10-159) — but it was the Wildcats’ five turnovers that played a large role in the setback. Judah Miller added six catches for 68 yards for Halifax, which gained just 25 yards on the ground. Upper Dauphin parlayed a sparkling all-around effort from Chance Crawford, who rushed for 89 yards and one touchdown, caught one pass and returned a Susquenita fumble 98 yards for another score. Brady Morgan (5-61) added two touchdown runs and Aiden Wiest (1-54) chipped in one for Kent Smeltz’s Trojans, who rolled up more than 400 yards of offense. UD also forced four turnovers defensively as Kyle Casner picked off two passes and Chase Lentz swiped one.
Line Mountain hoping to run win streak to three
Stepping out of Mid-Penn Liberty play following impressive victories over Upper Dauphin and Halifax, Line Mountain (2-1) will return to the bus for a trip to Columbia County and a scrap with Northwest Area (3-2). The Eagles hope Garret Laudenslager — he rushed 15 times for 141 yards and three scores in a 48-21 win over Halifax — can crack the century mark for the fourth straight week. QB Jacob Feese added 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns rushing but also banked 108 yards through the air on 6-of-13 passing. Cameron Smeltz was the top receiver for the Eagles, catching two passes for 54 yards. Carson’s bunch also displayed an opportunistic defense, forcing five turnovers and benefiting from Brayden Boyer’s 12-yard return of a first-half screen pass. Boyer added 12 kicking points as well. Feese and fellow inside ‘backer Beau Keim will need to be on full alert since the Rangers’ tendency thus far is to load up behind 5-foot-7, 225-pound running back George May. May rushed for 143 yards in last weekend’s 21-13 loss to Muncy, while QB Carter Hontz totaled 128 offensive yards (85 passing, 43 rushing) and one TD. Keim totaled six tackles in the Eagles’ win over Halifax, but also picked off one pass.
Scrambling Juniata hoping to bag third straight road success
Hustling to find an opponent since Mid-Penn Liberty rival Newport is on hold due to a COVID-19 issue, Juniata (2-1) landed a Lancaster Catholic side (0-4) that also was looking once Lebanon went on the shelf. Kurt Condo’s resourceful Indians are hoping to continue their road success — Juniata dropped its road opener at Middletown after going 1-6 last season away from home — after holding off Lower Dauphin 21-14 in overtime. QB Jacob Condo passed for 143 yards (16-of-25) and one touchdown in the final moments of regulation to Yaneil Ortiz. Condo then ran for a short TD in OT before Ortiz sacked LD QB Braden Landis to set up a fourth-and-long the Falcons couldn’t turn into a tying score. Ortiz totaled 111 offensive yards (7-68 rushing and 6-43 receiving) and two scores. Manny O’Donell added six catches for 75 yards for the Indians. Lancaster Catholic is scrambling to find a winning formula since the Crusaders have begun 2020 winless. Catholic’s fourth consecutive loss came last weekend with a 24-7 setback to Ephrata.