By Gabe Mink
For the Press And Journal
Lower Dauphin gave up two touchdowns in the first quarter vs. Susquehanna Township on Friday and couldn’t recover, losing 26-7 in the Falcons’ Homecoming game.
Lower Dauphin’s Kurt Cain scored their only touchdown with less than two minutes left to avoid the shutout at Hersheypark Stadium.
“We needed more effort,” Cain said of the Falcons’ defense. “Our offense wasn’t really giving us anything.”
The team stands at 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division. Susquehanna Township is 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the Mid-Penn.
The turning point in the game came right before halftime. With Susquehanna up by 12 and less than 30 seconds on the clock, the Indians punted the ball into Lower Dauphin territory. There was confusion as to which player on which team made contact with the ball first.
“From my vantage point, the box and everybody else, Susquehanna touched it first, so it would have been dead right there,” coach Greg Kratzer said.
One referee ruled that Susquehanna touched it first and one ruled that Lower Dauphin’s Clay Spencer touched it first. It eventually was ruled that Susquehanna Township had recovered the muffed punt at the Lower Dauphin 6 yard line.
“That was their call, and they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do.” Kratzer said.
A sack pushed back Susquehanna. However, as time ran out, Jalik Smith hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass, putting the Indians up 19-0.
The Indians opened up the fourth quarter of the game with their final touchdown of the night in the first 30 seconds. Cain’s short touchdown run capped the scoring.
“It’s the same thing we’ve talked about earlier in the year. We can’t make that many mistakes in the first half,” Kratzer said. The Falcons had four turnovers in the first quarter of the game.
“The bottom line, the turnovers, some of them were our fault and some of them were not necessarily our fault,” he said.
Falcon quarterbacks Ryan Kutz and Aidan Klassen shared time. Klassen was 6 of 10 for 60 passing yards. Kutz was 3 of 9 passing for 34 yards. Kutz carried it twice for 5 yards and had the team’s only fumble.
Junior running back Brendan Shaffer led the team with 38 rushing yards; he added a sack on defense. Senior defensive end Justin McIntyre had the other Falcons sack of the night.
The Falcons play host to the Cumberland Valley Eagles on Friday.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:56
Written by Larry Etter
Following their tense win over Palmyra the previous week, the Middletown football players filed out of the locker room with looks of disgust on their faces.
Sure, they had won the big showdown with the Cougars, but it was the way they had won that had them upset. Mistakes, penalties and missed chances nearly cost them the victory, and they were disappointed in their performance.
The Blue Raiders traveled to Camp Hill on Friday with chips on their shoulders and a strong desire to show, not only themselves, but their coaches and fans that they were better than that. And the host Lions ended up on the receiving end of the Raiders’ ire. Starting off strong on defense and precise on offense the Raiders crushed their hosts 49-14, proving their point.
“Yeah, they weren’t happy last week. But sometimes you need a little adversity to stay focused,” Middletown coach Brett Myers said after the rout at Camp Hill’s Seibert Park. “They worked hard this week and got the job done.”
Myers had his regular stars to thank for the win.
“Jaelen Thompson and Brady Fox ran very well, and Chase Snavely had a big game, too,” he noted. “But,” he added, “make sure you give credit to the linemen. They blocked well and had a great game.”
Credit can also go to the defense, a unit that held Camp Hill running back Bill Williams to 0 net yards rushing.
With their own Homecoming festivities coming this weekend, the Blue Raiders totally wrecked Camp Hill’s own celebration on a cool night that was nearly perfect for football.
Jumping out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, the Middletown squad rolled to a 35-7 halftime advantage. Two more scores in the third period put the game away early and the Blue Raiders cruised to the victory, raising their unbeaten streak to seven games.
Fox, a junior, ran 14 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns while Thompson finished up with 86 yards on 15 carries and a pair of scores to lead the way. Snavely completed 8 of 13 passes for 210 yards and two touchdown connections with junior receiver Tyreer Mills.
Everyone anticipated a good, hard-hitting football game and that’s exactly what the Mid-Penn Capital Division contest turned out to be. And it showed early when the Middletown defense forced a fumble that the Raiders recovered on Camp Hill’s opening drive.
Two plays after a Laron Woody interception was erased by a penalty, Camp Hill receiver Jordan Moore lost the ball at then end of an 8-yard gain. The Blue Raiders took over at their own 46.
A Fox run of 18 yards and a catch by Mills that went for 19 set up Fox’s five-yard touchdown run at the 6:39 mark. Fox went left and fought his way into the end zone for the score. Mr. Automatic, Donovan Brady, added his first of seven extra point kicks and the Raiders led 7-0.
The Lions went nowhere on their ensuing possession and were forced to punt. Starting at the Camp Hill 47, the Middletown offense struck quickly, the 6-play drive capped by a Snavely-to-Mills connection of 33 yards. Set up on the left side, Mills ran a post to the middle and used his speed and moves to score the touchdown at 3:58.
Following the score, Bob Graham dropped Williams for a pair of losses on the Lions’ second and third plays to force another Camp Hill punt. With a 19-yard return by Mills, the Raiders were back on offense at the hosts’ 46. On third and 4, Chris Plummer went high in the air to snag Snavely’s throw and the play went for 24 yards to the 16. Fox went in from the 8 two plays later to give the Raiders a 21-0 lead with 2 seconds left in the first quarter.
Camp Hill’s Zack Kuntz caught a pair of passes covering 14 and 19 yards to keep the Lions’ possession moving and it appeared as if the hosts were ready to score. But Middletown’s pass defense tightened up and Mills broke up a fourth down throw in the end zone to end the threat.
Taking over at their 22, the Raiders needed just three plays to pad their lead. On first and 10 at the 32, Mills took off on a streak down the field and Snavely lofted a perfect pass, hitting Mills in stride at the 40. From there it was no contest as Mills raced to the end zone with Middletown’s fourth touchdown. At that point the Raiders lead had grown to 28-0.
On Camp Hill’s first play, Kyle Truesdale, subbing for the injured Corbin Stetler, held Williams to a 1-yard gain on a pass play. On second down Williams was smothered in the backfield and lost the ball that was recovered by defensive end Tristan Maxwell. The 11-yard loss gave the Raiders a first down at the Camp Hill 20. Thompson took it from there with a great run. Starting right and finding the lanes clogged up, Thompson changed direction and instead found room on the left side, darting into the end zone with 4:44 left in the first half. And just that quickly the Blue Raiders were well out in front 35-0.
The Lions finally did get on the scoreboard on their ensuing possession when Williams got open down the middle and scored on a 61-yard pass play with 1:35 left. With Thompson’s 11-yard run and a pair of pass completions from Snavely to Ryan Hughes and Fox that covered a combined 25 yards, the Raiders threatened again. But the Lions intercepted Snavely’s next pass at the 2 yard line to prevent further scoring. Using that turnover as momentum, the Lions were on the move. But Tre Leach’s interception inside the 5 yard line ended the hosts’ hopes for a score and the first half ended with the Raiders out in front 35-7.
A bit of trickery by the Lions that caught the Raiders by surprise started off the second half with some excitement for the home side. A successful onsides kick gave the Lions the ball at the Middletown 48. On first down, a well-executed halfback pass from Williams to Moore went the distance and cut the Middletown lead to 35-14. But, thanks to the solid work of the Middletown defense, that turned out to be the Lions’ big show of the game.
Unfazed by the early strike by their hosts, the Blue Raiders came right back and showed they were the better team. Runs by Fox and Thompson, along with a reception by Hughes that went for 19 yards, quickly moved the ball to the Camp Hill 2 yard line. Following a false start by the Raiders, Thompson scored from 7 yards out to cap the march. The Raiders now led by a commanding 42-14 score with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders inflicted further damage when, two plays into Camp Hill’s offensive series, Mills intercepted a pass and set the stage for yet another Middletown score.
Shaking off a holding call the Raiders got a lift when the Lions were flagged for a personal foul and, following a Snavely-to-Fox connection of 22 yards, the offense had a first down at the 15. With Ethan Newton, Tommy Staker, Trey Michal, Griffin Radabaugh, Brendan Douglass and tight end Malik Noon leading the way, Fox got the call. Picking his way through the defense, Fox scored with 6:16 left and pretty much iced the Middletown win as the Raider climbed to a 49-14 lead.
The Lions threatened to score again on a long drive that started late in the third and carried into the fourth. But the Hunter Landis- and Laron Woody-led defense shut down the drive at the Middletown 16. Taking over from there, the Raiders ran four minutes off the clock before their first punt of the game.
After reaching the 35 against Middletown’s second defense, the game ended when Dustin Holliman, Doug Carpenter and John Etter ganged up on Moore following a short run as the clock ran out.
Next Up: Boiling Springs
The Middletown Blue Raiders will play host to Boiling Springs in this year’s annual Homecoming football game at War Memorial Field, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.
Boiling Springs is 0-7 for the season and 0-4 in the Mid-Penn Capital Division.
This will be the first time the Raiders will host the Bubblers on Homecoming weekend. The two teams have met six times with each team winning three games. The Raiders were victorious in 2008, 2009 and 2015. Middletown won 49-14 last fall.
Homecoming games have been played since 1963 and previous teams have been successful in 31 of the 53 games. Last year’s 49-13 victory over Palmyra snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Raiders.
— Larry Etter
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:41
By Mitch Spear
For the Press And Journal
The Middletown Blue Raiders boys soccer team dropped a pair of games last week to go to 8-5 overall and 6-5 in the Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division.
They cling to one of the last remaining 10 playoff spots for District III with five games remaining.
West Perry 2, Middletown 0
The road game Oct. 4 started with the Blue Raiders taking control and moving the ball at will against the West Perry Mustangs. The Raiders found it difficult to find clear shooting lanes within the box as West Perry dropped numbers to congest the area.
West Perry seemed to keep a one- or two-forward system for most of the game, which worked well as it only took one long clearance to Joey Wright. After several touches, he placed the ball beyond the reach of Thomas Lee, in goal for the Raiders, to give the West Perry Mustangs a 1-0 advantage.
The Raiders seemed unfazed by the goal and continued to dominate play. Within minutes they generated several scoring chances of their own, but were unable break onto the scoreboard.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the half, Blake Gill was able to find a little room less than 10 yards out but was unable to score compliments of a blocked shot. The last several minutes of the half, the Raiders were able to find multiple shooting lanes but consistently shot high or wide of the goal frame.
The second half was more of the same. With the lead, the Mustangs were content to sit back and put additional players in the defensive third. The Raiders got two more high percentage chances, one from Anthony Lavia that was sent just wide near post and one off a direct kick about 30 yards out that bounced around multiple times before Nate Nelson headed the ball just over the crossbar.
West Perry made it 2-0 when an unnecessary foul about 35 yards out was issued. On the pursuing direct kick, the Mustang’s Scott Messner blistered a shot into the net.
The Raiders dominated the stats in shots taken, shots on goal, and total possession, while the Mustangs were opportunistic in their few chances and made good on two of their six shots.
Camp Hill 3, Middletown 2
Thursday, Oct. 6 was senior night for the Raiders, one likely that will not be forgotten by the Raider players.
The Raiders faced off against Camp Hill, who is sitting in first place in the Mid-Penn Capital Division. The game was perhaps the best soccer played by the Raiders this season.
The first chance came to the Lions when an initial shot was saved by Lee. His fingertips pushed the ball wide, but hit the post and gave their offense a second chance that was sent high.
The Raiders responded moments later when a header from Gill beat the keeper to his right. The attempt, however, was cleared away from the goal mouth from the Camp Hill defense. The Raiders were the first to tally when the Camp Hill defense had difficulty clearing a ball directed on goal from Cole Golden. The ball eventually found the foot of David Alcock, energizing the crowd by putting the Raiders up 1-0.
The Raiders nearly doubled their lead when Thomas Einholf took a direct kick that was not cleanly handled by Lions keeper Noah Smeriglio, but was unable to finish the rebound.
Camp Hill got the equalizer from a deep throw-in that went over the arms of Lee and was chested away from the goal mouth from Cole Golden holding far post. The clearance fell directly to Abdullahi Hassan, who headed to the back of the net to tie it at 1.
Once again, the Raiders regained the lead when Donavan Brady took the direct kick that fell to the foot of Alcock, who worked the ball free to Conner Golden, who scored from near range to make it 2-1.
Once again, Camp Hill responded when a low driven cross from Noah Resuta rolled slowly across the face of goal to Noah Miccio, making a delayed run far post for the equalizer.
The second half played similar to the first with several chances from both teams, but no scores.
With the regulation tie, the game was sent to sudden death overtime. It was not until two minutes remained in the first extra time that the Lions were able to get the game-winner. A direct ball from Quinn Pickering was neatly collected by Resuta. Resuta standing around center of the goal box, cut back to change his direction and created the small separation from the Raider defense to squeeze a ball low and just beyond the fingertips of Lee sprawling to his left.
The JV team ended the week with two scoreless draws thanks to a strong defense and some great goaltending from Dane Ebersole in Thursday’s campaign vs, the Camp Hill Lions. Their record is now 8-2-2.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 11:43
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