By Michael Bullock and Andy Shay:
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.
1. Dominant ground game fuels Line Mountain effort
Receiving triple-figure efforts from quarterback Jacob Feese and running back Garret Laudenslager for the second consecutive week, Line Mountain motored past Upper Dauphin 46-22 in the Mid-Penn Liberty debut for both squads. Laudenslager rushed 15 times for 244 yards and touchdowns covering 19, 64 and 41 yards — all in the second half. Feese, meanwhile, churned out 140 yards on 18 attempts, scoring on runs of 1, 10 and 42 yards for a Line Mountain side (1-1, 1-0) that rolled up 403 rushing yards (45 carries) against the host Trojans. Feese attempted just three passes, completing two for 34 yards. Brandon Carson’s Eagles also scored on a 34-yard fumble return by Cameron Smeltz, who didn’t play in Line Mountain’s season-opening loss at Camp Hill. Up next for Carson’s squad is a home date against Halifax (0-1, 0-1), which dropped a 41-26 decision to Juniata despite a fine all-around effort from junior Bryce Enders. Enders rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns, caught four passes for 29 yards and a third score and registered 13 tackles defensively. Ryan Stahl added 48 receiving yards and a TD for Earl Mosley’s Wildcats, but he also numbered 10 stops on defense. One key for Halifax will be protecting quarterbacks Micah Deitrich and Carter Enders from a determined Line Mountain pass rush featuring Dominick Bridi and Laudenslager coming off the edges.
2. Newport looking to remain unbeaten
Riding three big yet divergent plays from junior Andrew Bates, Todd Rothermel’s Newport Buffaloes cuffed Susquenita 20-6 last weekend on the road. Bates picked up a muffed lateral and returned it 30 yards for the Buffs’ first score, points that came just 48 seconds into the Perry County showdown. Then, several minutes later, Bates wheeled 84 yards on a quarterback keeper that bumped the ‘Port’s lead to 12-0. Newport’s final touchdown came on the first play of the second quarter, as Bates hooked up with Will Davis for a 19-yard score then found Adam Reich on the ensuing two-point try. Thomas Pyle added 75 yards on 19 carries for the Buffs (2-0, 1-0), while Mason Huggins recorded 11 defensive stops. Up next for Newport is a trip to Mercersburg for a Mid-Penn Liberty scrap with James Buchanan (0-1, 0-0). The Rockets, who lost their opener to Big Spring, did not play last weekend.
3. Upper Dauphin and Susquenita still chasing first victories
Despite holding a narrow lead at one first-half checkpoint, Upper Dauphin (0-2, 0-1) couldn’t slow down a Line Mountain ground assault that piled up more than 400 yards on the ground in a 46-22 loss to the visiting Eagles. Chance Crawford played valiantly in defeat for Kent Smeltz’s Trojans, rushing 12 times for 89 yards and one score, catching 10 passes for 88 yards and accounting for a pair of two-point tries by throwing one pass and running for the other. Preferring to maintain possession by throwing short- and medium-range passes, quarterback Tyler Cleveland completed 19 of his 34 attempts for 193 yards and an eight-yard score to Hayden Harner, who snared a handful of passes for 61 yards. Susquenita (0-2, 0-1) will pull into Trojan Stadium also looking for its first victory after falling to Boiling Springs and Newport. While Scott Acri’s Blackhawks were outgained 277 to 248, Susquenita lost four fumbles and were victimized by three big plays. Austin Kenny accounted for the lone Blackhawks score, crashing over from 3 yards out late in the first half to pull Acri’s club within 20-6. Neither side cracked the goal line after the break.
4. Juniata one to watch
Newport is 2-0, but the other Liberty squad that I have my eye on as a player is Juniata. The Indians’ junior quarterback Jacob Condo, who checks in at 5-11 and a healthy 215 pounds, has thrown for more than 300 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception. He’s also rushed for a couple scores. And remember, Juniata played Middletown in Week 1. So keep an eye on the Indians … I am.