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Volleyball action

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The Middletown Blue Raiders
volleyball team took on Lower Dauphin last Tuesday and fell 3-0. The team’s record for the year is 4-3 overall, and 4-2 in the Mid-Penn Conference Colonial Division.

For more Middletown volleyball photos by Don Graham, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition.






















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Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 15:58

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RAIDERS ON A ROLL: Big showdown with East Pennsboro turns into a rout as Middletown moves to 4-0

image002Photo by Bill Darrah -- Middletown running back Jaelen Thompson celebrates his four-touchdown night against previously undefeated East Pennsboro.

The Middletown varsity football players earned the right to walk around school this week with their chests puffed out and their heads held high. Beating a team like East Pennsboro by a 50-14 score will do that for a team.

But this group of players is not one that will let that success get the better of them. They have the humility and intelligence to keep their emotions in check as they go about their quest for a winning season. And head coach Brett Myers knows that.

“These kids worked hard all week in practice and deserved this win,” he said. “They play for each other and help each other to be successful.”

There were some questions coming into the game with unbeaten East Pennsboro, especially after the Panthers had ended the Blue Raiders’ season in a convincing win last year in the first round of District III playoffs. And, like the Raiders, the Panthers carried a 3-0 record into Friday’s Capital Division opener for both schools.

But, in a classic example of a total team effort, the Blue Raiders struck early and established themselves on both sides of the ball in what turned out to be a surprising rout over their shocked guests in front of a huge crowd at War Memorial Field.

While the offense was rolling up nearly 400 yards on the ground and another 162 through the air, the defense, for the most part, effectively shut down East Pennsboro’s hard-charging offense throughout the game.

For the Raiders, Jaelen Thompson ripped through East Penn’s defense for 255 yards and four touchdowns while backfield mate Brady Fox ran for 125 yards and a score in the big victory. Balancing things out, quarterback Chase Snavely threw for 162 yards and a touchdown, connecting with six different receivers, in a highly efficient outing.

The Blue Raiders wasted little time establishing themselves early in the game. Taking the opening kickoff for a 10-yard return by Malik Noon to the 42, the Raiders scored in just seven plays to take the initial lead.

Runs by Thompson and Fox, along with a pair of pass completions from Snavely to Tyreer Mills, moved the ball to the East Penn 8. A holding penalty erased a gain to the one, but Fox picked up 11 yards on a catch and run and then the junior running back capped the drive with a 4-yard run through a center/guard gap for the touchdown. The kick missed but the Raiders led 6-0 with just under 9 minutes left in the opening quarter.

The defense forced a Panther punt on East Penn’s first possession and Mills caused some excitement when he returned the kick 70 yards for an apparent touchdown. But the score was wiped out by a penalty instead and the Raiders had to start from near midfield.

Following a Panther penalty, Snavely hooked up with Noon for 14 yards and 11 with Ryan Hughes to the 19. Fox took it from there and gave the home team a 12-0 lead at the 5:47 mark. Another PAT attempt missed.

18 Ryan HughesPhoto by Jodi Ocker -- Ryan Hugnes looks for yardage.

Back-to-back defensive plays by Mills and Laron Woody forced another East Penn punt after the Panthers had picked up one first down. But the Raiders, too, were forced to punt after initially gaining a first down. A short kick gave the guests good field position at their 47 and the quarter ended with the Raiders leading 12-0.

Keyed by two pass completions by quarterback Payton Morris and a 15-yard throw by Nicholas Karoly on a fake punt, the Panthers reached the Middletown 12 yard line in six plays. Stud running back Onasis Neely capped the drive at 8:29. With the extra point kick good, the Panthers now trailed by 12-7 and raised some concerns among the Middletown fans. But those concerns were washed away in a hurry on the Raiders’ ensuing possession.

Following Abel Botterbusch’s 15-yard kickoff return, the Middletown offense was set up at the 35. On first down Thompson darted through a gap up the middle and then used his blazing speed to outrun the Panther defenders 65 yards for another Raider touchdown.

Snavley’s 2-point pass to Fox pushed the home team’s lead up to 20-7 with just over 8 minutes left in the first half. Starting at their own 41 following a short kickoff the Panthers were again set up with good field position.

But the Middletown defense took care of business at that point. Haden Landis dropped Noah Alejandro for a yard loss on first down and Hunter Landis sacked Morris for a four-yard loss on second down. A third down pass fell incomplete, forcing another Panther punt.

Hunter Landis tackles the QBPhoto by Jodi Ocker -- Hunter Landis tackles the East Pennsboro quarterback.

It took the Middletown offense a bit longer to score this time, but the Blue Raiders padded their lead with 2:56 left in the second stanza. Thompson carried three times for 31 yards, Fox ran twice for 15 lengths and Leach caught a 10-yard pass to keep the drive moving. Following a delay penalty, Thompson covered the last 12 yards, starting to his left and then angling back to the right for the score. On a bit of a trick play, Leach passed to Hughes for the two-point conversion that gave the Raiders a 28-7 advantage.

Tyler Mason gave the visitors a lift, however, when he returned the Middletown kickoff 63 yards to the Raiders’ 14. Leach’s tackle saved the touchdown and turned out to be one of the key plays of the game. After a holding penalty by the Raiders gave the Panthers a first and goal at the 7, Leach came up big again when he recovered Neely’s fumble at the 10 to kill the threat. With 2:32 left in the first half the Blue Raiders had the opportunity to run out the clock and take their 21-point lead into the halftime break.

But, thanks to a lot of help from his friends up front, Thompson again found some running room. Dashing through the gap those teammates gave him, Thompson never stopped running until he sped into the south end zone at the end of his 90-yard touchdown sprint. And just that quickly the Raiders owned a shocking 34-7 lead.

The Panthers had another golden opportunity to put some points on the board after recovering a muffed punt by the Raiders with 1:15 left in the half. But, again, the Middletown defense wiped out that opportunity. On third and 16 following a couple miscues by the Panthers, Haden Landis ran down Morris for a 19-yard loss to end the first half.

The Panthers finally did break into the scoring column for the second time on the first possession of the second half. Neely set up the score with a 62-yard run and Morris passed to Trent Fries three plays later for the touchdown with 10:18 left. The extra point made it a 34-14 game and gave the guests a bit of a lift. But that didn’t last long after the Raiders got their hands back on the ball.

A 32-yard kickoff return by Mills set up the Middletown offense at the East Penn 48. Fox ran for 12 yards on first down and Snavely hooked up with Hughes for a 36-yard touchdown connection one play later for the quick score. Stetler caught Snavely’s pass for two points that pushed the Middletown advantage up to 42-14 with 9:33 still left in the third quarter. Before the period was officially over the Raiders would score again to put the game totally out of reach.

The score came at the end of an 82-yard drive that took 13 plays and nearly six minutes to complete. After a penalty had wiped out one touchdown run by Thompson, guard Griffen Radabaugh saved the march with his fumble recovery two plays later. On the next play Thompson went 10 yards for the tally, his fourth of the game, with 2:40 left. Fox ran in the two-point conversion and gave the Raiders an overwhelming 50-14 lead. The Panthers made it as far as the Middletown 22 midway through the fourth quarter before running out of downs.

On the ensuing possession Fox took off on a 63-yard jaunt that moved the ball to the East Penn 15. The Middletown reserves took over from there and reached the one-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. East Pennsboro made it as far as the Middletown 45 before the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 14:46

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Getting kicks with soccer

graham Rowan Sessa getting ready to shoot on goalPhoto by Don Graham -- Rowan Sessa (r) gets ready to shoot on goal vs. Camp Hill.

Check out Middletown Blue Raiders action from the fall season

To see more photos of Blue Raiders' girls and boys soccer by Bill Darrah, Don Graham, and Debbie Spear, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 13:20

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Lower Dauphin takes fall Keystone Cup

Lower Dauphin came out on top among four schools competing for the Keystone Cup in scholastic athletics. The competition, in its inaugural year, will continue in winter and spring sports.

Four school athletic directors organized this tournament to draw interest to nonleague games, said Jim Hazen, Lower Dauphin community relations coordinator. Lower Dauphin is competing with Governor Mifflin in Berks County, Hempfield in Lancaster County and Dallastown in York County.
The winning school will receive a trophy and bragging rights, Hazen said.

The schools receive 6 points for first place, 4 points for second place and 2 points for third place finishes in each sport tournament. All sports are counted for the cup, except football. The school districts each offer the same sports, except Hempfield, which does not have girls and boys volleyball and boys lacrosse teams.

Lower Dauphin earned 34 points for fall sports, winning for boys cross country, field hockey, and girls and boys soccer. The district’s girls volleyball took second place and tied for second in girls tennis and girls soccer.

Dallastown finished second for fall sports with 28 points, followed by Hempfield, 26, and Governor Mifflin, 8.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 12:29

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Boys soccer stands at 5-1 on season

David headerPhoto by Debbie Spear -- David Alcock goes up for a header vs. Camp Hill on Sept. 15.

By Mitch Spear
For the Press And Journal

The Middletown Blue Raiders boys soccer team split a pair of contests last week to stand at 5-1 on the season.

For the full story, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Press And Journal.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 12:26

Hits: 784