By Gabe Mink
For the Press And Journal
The Lower Dauphin Falcons gave up 25 unanswered second-half points vs. Central Dauphin East on Thursday, losing 38-14 to fall to 0-2 on the season.
The squad led 14-13 at halftime, on the road at Speed Ebersole Stadium.
Falcons Coach Greg Kratzer says he is “disappointed that we did not capitalize on opportunities that were present in the first half of the game,” but said that “it’s all part of the growth process for us.”
“Our defense played really well in the first half; they created four turnovers. That is exceptional,” said Kratzer, who is in his first season as head coach after serving as a longtime assistant. “Defensively, Brent Spencer had a nice night, made a great hustle play to get the first strip fumble in the first half.”
Quarterback Aidan Klassen led the Falcon offense, looking for senior Michael Geesaman and Clay Spencer downfield for much of the night.
“Clay Spencer did some dynamic things catching the ball,” Kratzer said about the Falcons junior, who had five catches.
Falcons junior running back Brendan Shaffer scored both his team’s touchdowns, a 65-yard run in the first quarter to put them up 7-0 and a 1-yard carry in the second quarter that made the score 14-7. CD East scored as time expired but the extra point failed.
“Shaffer had a nice night rushing the ball, 88 yards, 2 TDs,” Kratzer said.
But it wasn’t enough. CD East quarterback Kane Everson and the Panther offense had 100 more rushing yards than the Falcons’ 160, and 251 passing yards compared to the Falcons’ 97.
“As a team we need to continue to improve, especially in the area of capitalizing on opportunities,” Kratzer said. “There were some key moments in the first half that could have changed the outcome of the game and we failed to take advantage of them.”
The Falcons return home to face Cedar Crest at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday night, Sept. 16, and then take on Cedar Cliff on the road Sept. 23.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2016 16:31
Written by Larry Etter
While it was far from a perfect game, the Middletown football team still turned in a dominating effort on Friday night at home in a convincing 33-0 shutout victory over Northern York.
On a hot, steamy night in front of a large home crowd at War Memorial Field, the Blue Raiders jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, survived some mistakes in the middle periods that gave the visitors some momentum, but finished strong to post their second win of the new season.
Middletown coach Brett Myers agreed that getting out to the quick two-touchdown lead early may have taken some of the edge off his team’s intensity. But he never doubted the ability of his squad.
“You can’t question how hard these kids play,” he said. “No matter what happened they went hard right through to the end.”
Late in the third quarter, with the Raiders hanging onto the 14-0 lead and the Polar Bears threatening, senior cornerback Jaelen Thompson came up with the biggest defensive play of the night. His interception of a Curtis Robinson pass attempt that he turned into a dazzling 96-yard touchdown return lit the fire the home team needed to regain its dominance. And, then, after the defense held the Bears to a three-and-out, Thompson raced 58 yards for another touchdown on the final play of the third period that locked up the win.
Thompson, of course, had a lot of help from his teammates. While the defense pitched the shutout, the offense rolled up 458 yards combined (306 on the ground and 152 through the air).
Led by the work up front from Ethan Newton, Griffen Radabaugh, Tommy Staker, Trey Michal and Brendan Douglass, Thompson finished with 139 yards on 14 carries while Brady Fox added 96 yards on eight runs before leaving the game with a sore shoulder in the third quarter. Meanwhile, quarterback Chase Snavely completed 6 of 10 passes for 152 yards, connecting with five different receivers in the non-divisional contest.
Early in the opening minutes of the game, the Middletown defense forced a three-and-out and the Raiders took over at their own 49 following a Northern punt. One offensive play later, the home team had the lead after Fox darted through a gap on the right side for a 51-yard touchdown sprint. Joe Cuneo’s PAT gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with just 46 seconds gone.
After the Bears picked up one first down on a 21-yard pass from Robinson to Dylan Baxter and two yards on a short run, Corbin Stetler dropped Robinson for a yard loss and Haden Landis sacked the Northern quarterback for a 6-yard loss to force a punt.
Nine plays later the Raiders owned a 14-0 lead. The scoring drive that started at the 38 was jump-started by a 34-yard hookup from Snavely to tight end Malik Noon.
Catches by Stetler of 10 yards and Ryan Hughes of 16 yards kept the drive moving.
Thompson capped it with a two-yard run at the 3:43 mark of the period. The kick was good. Down 14-0, Northern came back with a long drive that started in the first quarter and moved the ball to the Middletown 25 eight plays into the second. On second and 8 Stetler broke up one pass. On third down Ethan Newton dropped Kyle Swartz for a yard loss. On fourth down Newton pressured Robinson into an errant throw and the drive died at the 26.
The Blue Raiders followed with a good drive that reached the Northern 10 yard line in nine plays. But the first of two lost fumbles in the second kept the Middletown squad from padding its lead. The second one came on a later drive after the Raiders had reached the 17 on a 60-yard catch and run by Thompson. The first half ended with the 14-0 lead still intact.
Another promising Middletown drive that opened up the second half eventually ran out of gas at the Northern 10 and caused some uneasiness on the home side. That unease was further increased when Northern put together a solid drive that was keyed by a 19 yard run by Robinson, a 10-yard dash by Swartz and a catch by Joey Razzano that went for 30 yards.
But on second and 7 from the 10, Robinson’s hurried throw was picked off by Thompson inside the five and the speedy senior raced and picked his way the length of the field to the north end zone for the six-pointer with 1:52 left in the third.
That defensive touchdown and Thompson’s 58-yard scoring run following a three-and-out by the Bears suddenly pushed the Middletown lead to 26-0 as the third quarter ended.
Following another three-and-out for the Bears to start the final frame, the Middletown offense, with Jose Lopez and Antonio Gamble running the ball, ran 7 minutes off the clock before losing another fumble at the guests’ 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Trey Lebo’s interception and runback put the Middletown offense back on the field at the Northern 11. Kyle Truesdale’s dash up the middle covered the distance and Cuneo’s kick locked up the 33-0 win with 3:32 left.
The Bears never made it to midfield before the time ran out.
The Blue Raiders travel to West Perry on Friday night, Sept. 16, for another non-divisional game and are scheduled to start Capital Division play the following Friday at home against East Pennsboro.
To see more photos of the game by Bill Darrah and Jodi Ocker, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 15:59
The Middletown boys and girls cross country teams got their seasons underway at home
Tuesday, Sept. 6 vs. Northern York and Trinity.
To see more photos of the cross country meet by Jodi Ocker, check out our print edition or click here for our E-edition.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 15:03
The Blue Raiders boys soccer team began its 2016 campaign against the Harrisburg Cougars with a 10-1 victory at home Sept. 2.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic was great balance coming from the Raiders offense as eight of the 10 goals were tallied from different players.
Despite the score indicating a strong Raider performance, it was Harrisburg that nearly struck first by staying connected and combining on several one- and two-touch passes leading into the offensive third before a shot just wide of net.
The Raiders got on the scoreboard first with a combination of passes that resulted in Blake Gill spotting David Alcock making a good run about six yards out from goal. Alcock did not hesitate to bury the shot in the back of the net for the Raiders first goal of the season.
The second score resulted when the Cougar's keeper came off his line to challenge the heavy touch that came from the flank. The 50/50 challenge from the wing and the keeper resulted in the ball bouncing to Thomas Einholf, who scored with the keeper out of position.
The third and final goal of the first half resulted from a good defensive effort from Alcock, who won the ball back from the Cougar attack and found the feet of Gill. Gill placed a perfect through ball to Jacob Spear. The Harrisburg goalie began to come of his line to meet the through ball. However, he quickly realized he would not be able to challenge for the ball. Spear, seeing, the keeper off his line, lifted the ball for the Raider 3-0 lead.
Harrisburg continued to battle and had two great scoring chances of their own but came up empty.
In the second half, the Raiders added to the lead when Gill slotted a second perfectly placed ball to Nate Nelson for Raider goal No. 4. Blake was not finished. After recording three assists, he tallied a goal from a determined dribble and a well-placed shot.
Goal No. 6 for the Raiders came from a nice pass from Donovan Brady to Einholf, who took on his defender and shot the ball past the Harrisburg keeper for his second of the contest. Down 6-0, Harrisburg continued to press. The Cougars scored on a bouncing ball heading back to the 18. As the Middletown defense attempted to shield the ball back to Middletown keeper Avery Williams, the Harrisburg forward stepped around the defender and took a touch on the ball and placed the ball in the vacated net.
Shortly after Harrisburg got on the scoreboard, Tyrelle Gallatin placed a nice ball to Conner Golden, who made a good diagonal run and placed the ball to the right side of the keeper for the 7-1 lead.
In the 18th minute of the second half, Jarod Frekot whipped a good cross to Nelson far post for his second goal. Again, the Harrisburg attack showed some life when a Raider foul in the box resulted in a Cougar penalty kick being awarded. Thomas Lee now in goal for the Raiders came up big and pushed the attempted penalty shot wide as he dove to his left.
The Raiders got goal No. 9 off a strong throw-in from Cole Colden to Gallatin, who headed the ball past the Harrisburg keeper. With less than four minutes to go, Conner Golden was fouled about 18 yards out, awarding Middletown with the direct free kick. Frekot took the kick and shot it near post past the keeper for what turned out to be the final goal of the game.
The Raiders returned to action Tuesday against Trintiy and return home against East Pennsboro on Thursday. They complete action this week on Saturday, away against Bishop McDevitt.
The junior varsity team was idle and will see their first action on Tuesday.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 16:14
Written by Larry Etter
Every story has three components: a beginning, a middle and an end. The same can be said at times about sporting events.
Such was the case in Middletown’s 27-7 victory over Lower Dauphin on Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium on a beautiful evening for football.
In the beginning it was Lower Dauphin that dominated the early minutes, scoring a quick touchdown on the game’s opening possession, and giving the impression that the Falcons might be on their way to another big win in the battle for the Iron Spoke trophy.
The Falcons had won all four of the games of the revived series coming into the new season. The story changed, however, in the middle as the Blue Raiders evened things up. And, in the end, the Raiders completely took control and claimed the victory in the backyard rivalry showdown.
Asked if he was concerned following the quick start by the Falcons and some mistakes by his team, Middletown head coach Brett Myers said, “No I really was not worried. I knew these kids had it in them to fight back and do well.”
Playing without starting senior linebacker Hunter Landis could have been a problem for the Raiders. The concern grew when the defense lost another starting linebacker to a penalty and ejection to start the second quarter. But the team forged on without them.
“We had other players step up when we needed them,” Myers noted.
This was how the story began. Following a 44-yard kickoff return to start the game, Lower Dauphin’s quick scoring drive was aided by a personal foul penalty against the Middletown defense. The march was capped by an 11-yard run up the middle by workhorse Brendan Shaffer and the Raiders found themselves in a 7-0 hole with two minutes gone in the game.
On their first offensive possession the Raiders picked up a pair of first downs but were stopped at midfield by the Lower Dauphin defense.
Getting the ball back at their own 20 following a Tristan Maxwell punt that rolled into the end zone, the Falcons ground out a 10-play drive that carried them to the Middletown 44.
But, on first and 15 following Lower Dauphin penalty, Aidan Klassen’s high throw caromed off his receiver’s hands and Middletown cornerback Tyreer Mills was in the right spot to make the interception. With the pick, Mills raced 61 yards to the far end zone for the equalizer. Donovan Brady’s PAT tied the game at 7-7 on the final play of the first quarter.
Three plays into Lower Dauphin’s possession to start the second period, Middletown linebacker Justin Mayersky pounced on a Falcon fumble at the home team’s 36. Two plays later, junior running back Brady Fox darted through a hole on the left side and burned through the Falcons’ defense for a 30-yard touchdown sprint.
The extra point kick was blocked, but the Blue Raiders now led by a 13-7 count and the fans on both sides could feel the momentum had turned even though the 13-7 score held up through the remainder of the first half.
The Blue Raiders had the ball to start the second half but were forced to punt. On the return the Raiders were called for two personal fouls and the Falcons found themselves with excellent field possession at the Middletown 28.
But, rather than give up a score to their hosts, the Raider defense, keyed by stops by Maxwell and Bob Graham, stopped the Falcons in their tracks. And, although the Middletown offense went nowhere on the ensuing series, the tide was turning in the Raiders’ favor during the middle periods.
The blue and gold defense came up big again when sub safety Kyle Truesdale intercepted Klassen on third and 5 at the Middletown 29.
It took just one play, an electrifying 71-yard connection between Chase Snavely and Mills, for the Raiders to pad their lead.
On the play Mills ran a post pattern, caught Snavely’s perfect pass near midfield and then outran safety Brent Spencer to the end zone for the six-pointer. Brady’s kick made it a 20-7 game with just a couple minutes left in the third quarter.
The Falcons threatened again when Klassen hooked up with Michael Geesaman for a 35-yard gain to the Middletown 21 and a short run by Skylar Swartz moved the ball to the 18 on the final play of the period. But, once again, the Raiders came up big on defense when Jonah McCoy intercepted Klassen in the end zone early in the fourth.
Starting at their own 20 the Raiders had little trouble moving the ball against the tiring Falcons.
“We knew we were wearing them down physically as the game wore on,” said assistant coach Bob Pelletier, who also serves as the team’s strength and conditioning leader.
Runs by Fox and Jaelen Thompson, along with a huge 43-yard pass from Snavely to Corbin Stetler, carried the Raiders into Lower Dauphin territory.
Fox capped the drive, cutting up through the right side from four yards out for the touchdown. With the successful PAT the Middletown side literally guaranteed itself a win with its 27-7 advantage.
Following a three-and-out by the Falcons the Blue Raiders were threatening again but lost a fumble at the Lower Dauphin 25. The turnover went unrewarded, however, as the defense held firm and forced another Falcon punt.
From that point on it was simply a matter of ball control and running out the clock.
Thompson, Fox and Snavely took care of that, running for positive yards behind Ethan Newton, Tom Staker, Griffin Radabaugh, Trey Michal and Brendan Douglass.
Thompson finished with 114 yards on 20 carries while Fox closed the game with 99 yards and two touchdowns on 14 runs.
“Jae and Brady are Jae and Brady. We know what we have with them,” Myers said of his stellar running backs.
Snavely completed 4 of 7 passes for 133 yards in the win while his counterpart Klassen connected on 13 of 19 tosses for 114 yards. Shaffer led the Falcons’ ground game with 63 yards on 16 carries.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 15:57