By Gabe Mink
For the Press And Journal
After last week’s loss to CD East, Lower Dauphin Coach Greg Kratzer said that his team needed to “capitalize on opportunities.”
During Friday’s game vs. Cedar Crest, they started to do that. The Falcons won 10-7, putting their record at 1-2 on the season.
But it wasn’t easy. The game was in doubt until the final minute.
The Falcons scored all of their points in the first half of the game at Hersheypark Stadium.
Lower Dauphin scored first in the first quarter, on a field by Clyde Tamburro.
Then, with a little more than 10 minutes left in the second quarter, Lower Dauphin junior Clay Spencer got behind the defender down the sideline and caught a Ryan Kutz pass at the 30-yard line, running it in for the Falcons’ one and only touchdown of the game. The 53-yard completion was the first touchdown pass of the season for Kutz, the backup sophomore who also handles punting duties.
“Clay’s deception and speed make him a weapon,” Kratzer said. He had three catches for 75 yards vs. Cedar Crest.
Midway through the third quarter, the Falcons almost padded their lead. Brendan Shaffer and Michael Geesaman busted through the line as Cedar Crest attempted a 26-yard field goal, blocking the kick. Shaffer picked it up and ran it 78 yards to the end zone. But a penalty against Lower Dauphin brought it all back.
Cedar Crest eventually got on the board late in the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run.
With Lower Dauphin leading 10-7 with about a minute and half left in the game, a fumble gave the ball back to Cedar Crest, which moved the ball from the Falcons’ 46 to their 19.
Under pressure, Cedar Crest quarterback Logan Horn fired the ball downfield, hoping for the game-winning touchdown, but Brent Spencer intercepted the pass in the end zone with 41 seconds left on the clock.
“I am extremely proud of what these guys have accomplished,” Kratzer said, calling the game an “ugly one but a win.”
“I’ve been telling them all week that it’s a few plays that can define a game,” he said.
Shaffer led Lower Dauphin in rushing, with 19 carries for 99 yards. Starting quarterback Aidan Klassen was 7 for 16 for 95 yards and one interception. Kutz finished 3 for 3 for 66 yards, including the long touchdown. Senior Kurt Cain and junior Cole Etchberger both recorded 9 tackles on defense.
Next up is a visit Friday, Sept 23, to 3-0 Cedar Cliff as Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division action gets underway.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 15:54
Written by Larry Etter
The Middletown Blue Raiders made the most out of a road trip to West Perry on Friday, registering a dominating 35-6 victory over the Mustangs in a final tuneup before the start of Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division play.
The Blue Raiders will play host to East Pennsboro at 7 p.m. Friday at War Memorial Field in a battle of 3-0 teams. Both will be looking to establish themselves as the division leader.
The Blue Raiders started fast Friday and owned a 20-0 lead with 6:42 left in the first quarter. That lead swelled to 35-0 late in the second quarter and the game was played with the mercy clock running throughout the second half.
The Mustangs, held scoreless by Middletown’s starting defense, finally scored with just 2:10 left in the game, their lone points coming against the Middletown reserves.
Jaelen Thompson ran for 160 yards and scored three touchdowns on just nine carries, all in the first half, and Brady Fox picked up 61 yards and a score on just three rushes before sitting out the second, third and fourth periods while nursing a sore shoulder.
Quarterback Chase Snavely completed all six of his passes for 140 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown connection with Tre Leach.
“Jaelan is fast and has really learned to trust his blockers up front,” coach Brett Myers said.
After his first two kickoffs bounced out of bounds to start the game, West Perry’s Jake Quaker got his third attempt to stay on the field and Dylan Andree smothered the ball at the Middletown 47, giving the Blue Raiders excellent field position. Snavely went to the air immediately, hooking up with Ryan Hughes for 8 yards.
Following a holding penalty, Fox went 14 yards for a first down at the host’s 43. On the next play, following a West Perry penalty, Snavely found Leach 10 yards downfield for a completion. After juking past a defender near the 30, Leach used his speed to go the distance for the quick touchdown. Joe Cuneo made extra point kick and the Raiders led 7-0 with 10:41 left in the opening segment.
Led by the work of Hunter and Haden Landis, Dustin Holliman, Tristan Maxwell, Blake Jacoby, Griffen Radabaugh, Chris Plummer, Laron Woody, Bob Graham, Leach and Corbin Stetler, the Middletown defense shut out the Mustangs in the first half. The Mustangs mounted a serious drive late in the first period, but the march died at the Middletown 14.
After forcing a three-and-out on West Perry’s first offensive possession, the Raiders took over at their own 19. On first down, Fox broke free for a 43-yard run to the West Perry 38. One play later, Tyreer Mills made a juggling catch for a first and goal from the 5. Thompson capped the drive with a three-yard run off the right side with 8:37 left. The kick was good.
Two plays into West Perry’s ensuing possession, Maxwell recovered a fumble at the home team’s 38 and set up Middletown’s third score. On third and 5, Stetler pulled in Snavely’s pass, good for 24 yards, to the 4. Fox went into the end zone standing after cutting through a center/guard gap and following the lead block of Justin Mayersky for the tally. The kick failed but the Raiders now led 20-0.
Taking over at the 6:40 mark following the kickoff, the Mustangs put together a solid drive, mixing the run and the pass in a steady march down he field. The first quarter ended with the Mustangs facing a fourth and 9 at the 17. But the threat died on the first play of the second quarter when Haden Landis, Maxwell and Jacoby sacked West Perry quarterback Cameron May for an 8-yard loss at the 25.
The Raiders needed just one play, a 75-yard sprint by Thompson, to pad their score. Thompson got all the space he needed on the right side and then simply used his speed to outrun the Mustang defensive backs to the end zone. That run, plus the PAT, pushed the Middletown lead to 27-0 less than 60 seconds into period number two.
The Mustangs followed with another good drive that reached the Middletown 30 before the Raider defense again put the brakes on the march. Plummer broke up a fourth down pass to end the threat.
Not content to ride out the remainder of the first half with the 27-point cushion, the Middletown offense went right back to work. The Raiders started off with a Snavely-to-Leach connection of 25 yards. Thompson followed a holding penalty with a 14-yard run and Stetler’s catch was good for 12 yards and a first down at the 34. From there Thompson carried three straight times, the last one good for a 15-yard touchdown at the 3:39 mark. Thompson then added a two-point conversion run to make it a 35-0 game.
Leach intercepted a Mustang pass later in the period and Thompson added a pair of runs covering 21 and 12 yards as the Raiders ran out the first-half clock.
The Mustangs started off the second half with another promising drive, but, once again, the Middletown defense kept the home team from scoring. On fourth and 7 from the Middletown 11, Hunter Landis put the pressure on and forced a hurried throw that was broken up by Stetler to end the threat.
With the clock running, Jose Lopez, Antonio Gamble, Abel Botterbusch and Kyle Truesdale shared the running duties as the Raiders ran off the final 5 minutes of the third quarter.
Their efforts moved the ball to the West Perry 32 five plays into the final frame, but the drive ended just inches short of a first down on fourth-and-five. With the Middletown reserves on the field, the Mustangs finally broke the scoring drought with 2:10 left in the game.
“This game gave us a chance to play a lot of kids. Getting them on the field to gain experience is important to us,” Myers said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 15:17
By Mitch Spear
For the Press And Journal
The Blue Raiders second week of games on the 2016 season had three close, hard-fought matches, with Middletown scoring only four goals but picking up three wins.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2016 16:46
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