By Gabe Mink
For the Press And Journal
Lower Dauphin crushed Mechanicsburg on Friday, registering a 55-0 win at Henry Hershey Field thanks to a 34-point first quarter.
The Falcons evened their record at 3-3 on the season and are 2-1 in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division.
They scored 48 points in the first half but were scoreless in the second until less than 30 seconds were left in the game, when freshman running back Isaac Buck scored the first touchdown of his career in an unusual fashion.
With Lower Dauphin on the Wildcats’ 20-yard line, the team was trying to run out the clock. Somewhere between the ball being snapped and quarterback Ryan Kutz taking a knee to end the game, the ball got loose. Buck sprang into action before either team could react and ran into the end zone.
“We were supposed to knee it. It was a messed-up snap and I was like, ‘I’ll just pick it up and do what I gotta do.’” Buck said.
But there was plenty of action long before that play.
In the first quarter, running back Brendan Shaffer busted through the middle of the pile for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. After the Falcons squashed the Wildcats offense, the Mechanicsburg punt rolled dead at the Dauphin 49, giving the Falcons first down and 51 yards to the end zone. A toss from Kutz to wide receiver Clay Spencer covered all 51 yards, and the extra point by Clyde Tamburro was solid.
Again the Wildcats were forced to punt, and the Falcons switched up quarterbacks. Aidan Klassen tossed it to Kurt Cain, who ran untouched up the left side for a 33-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in the quarter, giving the Falcons 21 points.
The Falcons’ Skyler Swartz then intercepted a Mechanicsburg pass at the Falcons 29 yard line. Shaffer took a handoff from Klassen and burned up the field for a 71-yard touchdown at the three-minute mark of the first quarter.
Lower Dauphin’s defense stopped Mechanicsburg again, and a Kutz pass to Spencer was good for a 28-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt was blocked.
The Falcons would score two more touchdowns in the second quarter. One of these was the first touchdown of the season for sophomore Will Bowen, who hauled in a 14-yard touchdown. That gave the Falcons 47 points on the board with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
“It was a good game,” Bowen said. “Even though we were up, we didn’t let off. We were sticking to what we know, playing hard and not letting off the gas.”
Cole Etchberger also had a 1-yard touchdown reception, meaning six Falcons scored touchdowns.
Kutz was 3-4 with one touchdown pass, and Klassen was 1-2 with one touchdown pass. The Falcons had only 47 yards passing.
Coach Greg Kratzer said there isn’t a real strategy behind swapping quarterbacks on a regular basis as he did in this game and in previous ones.
“They’ve both competed. They both do a lot of things really well, and we just determined that they both deserve time,” he said.
The Falcons recorded 21 first downs and rushed for 385 yards, led by 89 for Shaffer and 83 by Cain. Defensively, they picked up two Mechanicsburg fumbles.
“The team executed really well, especially early on,” Kratzer said. “We wanted to run the ball and we ran the ball really well. I thought Shaffer and Kurt and Cole had the hold really well, running downhill.”
Kratzer was empathetic toward Mechanicsburg’s plight.
“They are missing a bunch of guys. They caught the injury bug last week. They are missing two interior linemen and a linebacker, so they were pretty banged up,” he said.
The 3-3 Falcons face Susquehanna Township, also 3-3, at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday.
“Definitely looking forward to next week’s game,” Bowen said. “Good team, good athletes. It’s going to be a fun game.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 11:29
Written by Larry Etter
With the home fans chanting “DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE” and the game on the line, the Middletown Blue Raider defenders gave their fans what they wanted on Friday night.
By stopping four fourth-quarter Palmyra drives, the Raiders were able to hang on for a tense 14-10 victory over the Cougars in a key Mid-Penn Capital Division showdown at packed War Memorial Field Stadium.
The much-anticipated battle for the top spot in the division turned out to be a classic. With both teams coming into the game with identical 5-0 records, coaches, players and fans were expecting nothing less.
The Blue Raiders committed many mistakes and probably made the outcome much closer than it should have been. Flagged for 10 penalties, including three personal fouls, and victimized by a pair of lost fumbles, the Raiders hurt themselves a number of times by missing out on several opportunities that should have led to more scoring. Those errors allowed the Cougars to stay in the game right up to the final horn.
Things got interesting right away when Palmyra’s Alon Rhette returned the game’s opening kickoff 58 yards to the Middletown 24. But, after the Cougars reached the 9 yard line, the Middletown defense held and Palmyra had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Griffin Weidler.
Middletown’s highly rated offense took the field at the 34 following the kickoff and went to work against Palmyra’s defense that was ranked as one of the area’s best.
Ethan Newton, Tommy Staker, Griffen Radabaugh, Trey Michal, Brendan Douglass and Malik Noon paved the way up front for runners Jaelen Thompson and Brady Fox as the Raiders moved down the field. A key play of the drive was a 17-yard pass connection from Chase Snavely to Tre Leach on fourth and 11. Four plays later, Snavely scored on a 1-yard sneak. Donovan Brady’s kick gave the Raiders a 7-3 lead with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
Three plays into Palmyra’s ensuing drive, linebacker Laron Woody recovered a fumble by Rhette at the Middletown 47. A pair of runs by Thompson — which officially put him over the career mark of 3,000 yards — and then another 17-yard connection from Snavely to Leach, and a carry by Fox moved the ball to the Palmyra 24. A catch and run by Thompson and a Cougar penalty put the Raiders on the doorstep of the visitors’ goal line as the first quarter came to an end.
But, rather than padding their lead, the Raiders shot themselves in the foot with a series of mistakes. A pair of false starts plus a personal foul penalty moved the ball back to the 25 and essentially took away the scoring threat. A pair of incomplete passes on third and fourth downs had the home team come away empty.
But the Middletown defense made amends by stopping the Cougars at the 38 after Palmyra had earned one first down. Led by Blake Jacoby, Hunter Landis, Bob Graham, Haden Landis, Tristan Maxwell and Jonah McCoy, the Raiders forced a Palmyra punt. Corbin Stetler’s pressure on punter Hunter Dorn caused an errant kick that went just 19 yards and the Middletown offense was set up at its own 43 with 7:33 left in the first half.
And it took the Blue Raiders just one play to add to their lead. Thompson darted through a gap on the right side and kept his balance on two attempted tackles as he found ample running room. Getting a great downfield block from Noon, Thompson went the distance on his 57-yard touchdown sprint. With the 14-3 lead, the Middletown side was breathing a little easier. But, unfortunately, the euphoria did not last long.
Starting at the 31 following the kickoff return, Palmyra caught the Raiders in a run blitz and Rhette took off on a 69-yard touchdown run that quickly pulled the visitors to within 14-10 with just less than seven minutes on the first-half clock. Little did anyone know at that point that the score would hold up throughout the remainder of the game.
The Blue Raiders had another chance to score on their following drive, however. Starting deep in their own territory after the kickoff, the Raiders ran five straight times, reaching the 32. On third and 4, junior wide receiver Ryan Hughes made a great catch for 30 yards and a first down at the Palmyra 38.
But, two plays later, the hard-hitting Palmyra defense recovered a fumble at the 27 to stop the march. After the Raider defense made another successful stand, the Middletown offense got the ball back with 48 seconds left. Stetler’s run of 37 yards to midfield ended the first half.
The Blue Raiders opened up the second half with another promising drive, but, like the others, the march ran out of downs at the Palmyra 30. A pair of Middletown penalties aided Palmyra’s drive that reached the Middletown 22 in seven plays. But key back-to-back stops by middle linebacker Hunter Landis brought up a fourth and 10 and a short pass from Peter Robinson to Carl Reigle came up short of a first down.
With the ball again in their hands, the Raiders picked up a huge play when Snavely and Tyreer Mills hooked up for a 49-yard gain to the Palmyra 25. Thompson’s run to the 20 on the final play of the third quarter had the home team in scoring position yet again. But, once again the Raiders were denied. A missed connection on a fourth down pass attempt stopped the drive in its tracks.
With 11:19 left in the game, Palmyra tried to turn the defensive stop into a possible game-winning offensive drive. After the guest team picked up one first down, Rhette was held to just one yard on two carries and a motion penalty brought up a third and 14 from the 32.
Maxwell broke up Peterson’s pass and forced the Cougars to punt that was partially blocked by Stetler. Taking over at the Palmyra 40 the Raiders got a big lift when Fox broke free on a 32-yard run to the 8 yard line. But, once again, the tough Palmyra defense turned the Raiders away with its second fumble recovery of the game.
With 8:11 left, the Cougars were back on offense at their own 10 yard line. But this Middletown defense was not going to give in to Palmyra’s pressure. Rhette was held to just 3 yards on two carries and McCoy came up big with a key pass breakup on third and 7. But it was like déjà vu all over again as the Raiders could not capitalize on good field position. After a penalty, the Raiders went for a first down on fourth-and-3 at the 35 and came up short.
As the tension filled the air inside the stadium the Cougars were back on offense with 5:33 left. After Palmyra gained one first down, the Middletown defense once again showed its muscle. On third and 7 McCoy, on a corner blitz, dropped Rhette for a 6-yard loss. One play later Woody and Graham stopped Peterson well short of a first down and the Raiders took over at midfield with 3:28 on the clock. A block in the back call against the Raiders wiped out a first down and had the Middletown squad facing a 4th and 9 two plays later.
Lined up in punt formation, the Raiders gambled on a run by Leach. But, according to the spot, he came up just short on the fake and the Cougars’ offense was back on the field facing one more try for a rally. Out of timeouts Palmyra had just 1:35 to work with.
A holding call against the Cougars set them back on their own 27 facing a first and 24 with time winding down. After picking up 15 yards on two passes Peterson lost four yards on a fumbled snap and a final pass under pressure fell incomplete with just 3 seconds left in the game.
Middletown visits Camp Hill (4-2 overall, 1-2 in the Mid-Penn Capital) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 15:54
Written by Dan Miller
A mid-season coaching change in the boys soccer program became official on Monday, Sept. 26 when Middletown Area School Board voted 5-0 to approve the firing of head varsity coach Larry Kapenstein.
The board also accepted the resignation of boys' junior varsity soccer coach Robert Alcock. Both moves were made effective as of Sept. 14.
Approved as interim head boys' varsity soccer coach for the rest of the school year at a pro-rated stipend of $8,430 was Chelton Hunter. The board approved Tyler Roberts as interim boys' JV soccer coach at a pro-rated stipend of $2,740.
Kapenstein was removed without explanation going into the team's Sept. 15 game against Camp Hill, despite the varsity soccer squad getting off to a 5-0 start. The team lost the game against Camp Hill under Hunter.
Kapenstein and Alcock had coached together for years before they were brought on board in 2014 to lead the soccer program by Middletown Area School District.
District Superintendent Lori Suski has declined comment on the moves, saying the decision to fire Kapenstein is a "personnel matter."
Kapenstein in an email to the Press And Journal also declined comment.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:08
Written by Larry Etter
Middletown’s junior varsity football team remained unbeaten following a 35-14 victory at East Pennsboro on Monday, Sept 26.
Heading into the game, the young Blue Raiders had recorded wins over Lower Dauphin, Northern and West Perry.
After a lethargic start, the Raiders fell behind the host team 7-0 in the first quarter but tied the game 7-7 with 4:33 left in the second period on a 16-yard scoring pass from Scott Ash to Jose Lopez and Cole Senior’s kick.
Late in the first half, the Raiders went ahead 14-7 on a 30-yard pass between Ash and Devin Lee.
Middletown’s third touchdown was set up by a fumble recovery two plays into the second half. Following a six-yard run by Gage Radabaugh, Lopez broke free on a sweep left and raced 32 yards for the six-pointer. The kick made it a 21-7 lead for the Raiders.
With 3:16 left in the third quarter, the Middletown offense was back in business at the hosts’ 47. Runs by Lopez, Radabaugh and Antonio Gamble led the way in the drive that was capped by Lopez’s 9-yard scoring run.
After forcing another East Pennsboro punt early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders took over at their own 30 with 9:01 left. Again Lopez got the call on a sweep left. On the run, the speedy freshman made two quick cuts, one juke move and his speed to race 70 yards for the tally. Senior’s PAT made it a 35-7 lead.
The Panthers did get another touchdown with 6:26 left, but that was as close as they would get. After the Panthers recovered a Middletown fumble near midfield, Josh Brown’s sack of the East Penn quarterback for a 15-yard loss on first down took away the host’s last chances and the Raiders were able to run out the clock to lock up the win.
Saturday’s game vs. Trinity was canceled.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:00
By Mitch Spear
For the Press And Journal
Rainy weather limited the Middletown Blue Raiders soccer team to one game last week, but they registered a win, doubling up on East Pennsboro, 4-2.
The Sept. 27 game started off poorly for the Raiders as Sebastian Oliveira, East Pennboro’s leading scorer, was able to shake his defender and score from a wide open position less than 6 yards out from goal. The Raider defense responded well, however, as they limited Oliveira with few chances throughout the remainder of the game.
In the 10th minute, the Raiders earned the equalizer from Nate Nelson, who took a good first touch and shot low to the far post off the pass from Blake Gill.
Oliveira did get one more opportunity to put East Pennsboro back up one, when he received nice service on a through ball run. Feeling the pressure from the Raiders’ defense as it was closing down on him from behind, he rushed the shot to send it high, wide of the goal frame.
The Raiders countered for the remainder of the first half by playing high, central and direct. Grant Zemanek, the East Pennsboro keeper, was able to easily sniff this out by playing a high line and collecting the ball before the Raiders attackers could get a foot on it.
The second half was a much better effort, as the Raiders varied the attack and played both wide and central. With this balanced attack, the Raiders kept the ball deep within the attacking third of the field and were rewarded with a series of multiple deep throw-ins and corner kicks.
The Raiders pulled ahead when Conner Golden passed the ball from the corner of the goal box to Thomas Einholf. Einholf struck the ball well near post past Zemanek to make it 2-1 Raiders.
In the 50th minute, Gill extended the lead after Golden pressured the defense in deep which resulted in a defensive miss clear that fell to the foot of Gill. Gill struck the ball low from about 13 yards out that just touched the inside of the near post before hitting the back of the net, putting the Raiders up 3-1.
Gill finished with his second goal of the night from a well-placed corner kick taken by Jacob Spear. Gill’s header came off with pace and gave the East Pennsboro keeper no chance in keeping it out of net.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, a handball in the box was awarded to East Pennsboro. Jordan Moore did well with the penalty kick as he placed the ball mid-height, side netting as Thomas Lee was diving to his left, resulting in the last goal of the evening and a 4- 2 final.
Thomas Lee finished the game with 6 saves.
With the victory, the Raiders improve to 8-3 on the season. They were scheduled to action Tuesday, Oct. 4 at West Perry and finish the week with an important home game on Thursday, Oct. 6 against the first-place Lions of Camp Hill. To add to the excitement, Thursday’s home game at 7 p.m. is also Middletown Blue Raiders Senior Night.
The JV improved to 8-2 losses with a 1-0 final against East Pennsboro Tuesday night.
The single goal came from Jacob Idowu in the first half.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 13:52