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Blue Raider football team travels to Northern York, comes home with victory

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

Posted 9/5/18

Perhaps it was fitting that the Blue Raiders had to turn in a workmanlike effort on Labor Day weekend in a well-earned 29-6 victory at Northern York High School on Friday night.

After all, the …

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Blue Raider football team travels to Northern York, comes home with victory


Perhaps it was fitting that the Blue Raiders had to turn in a workmanlike effort on Labor Day weekend in a well-earned 29-6 victory at Northern York High School on Friday night.

After all, the Polar Bears did everything they could to try to stop Middletown’s long, regular-season winning streak. They even had a display of fireworks prior to the game to put some extra life into their efforts.

But, as it turned out, the Middletown team was not to be denied.

The Raiders had their own display of fireworks early in the game. The first was on a fumble recovery by linebacker Gage Radabaugh on Northern’s fifth play from scrimmage at the Middletown 37.

The second one came one play later when Jose Lopez broke free on a 67-yard touchdown run that spotted the Raiders an early 6-0 lead. On the play, Lopez cleared the line through a gap on the right side and outran the Northern defense for the score.

But that double lightning bolt of the turnover and electric run did little to discourage the Polar Bears’ determined effort. Following the kickoff, Northern put together a solid drive down the field and appeared ready to post a tying score.

With quarterback Chris Barrett at the controls, the Bears reached the Middletown 19 through the air and on the ground, the big play coming on a Barrett-to-Tyler Yohn pass that went for 34 yards.

But consecutive key stops by Trayvon Joseph, Adonis Taveras, Chris Joseph, Morgan Billman, Cole Senior and Lamar Ventura stopped the drive in its tracks.

Unfortunately, Billman — a two-way starter — was hurt on his tackle and did not return.

“Luckily we have veteran linemen who can step in when someone gets hurt,” Middletown coach Brett Myers said. And he and line coach Mike Dupes were able to insert other players to successfully fill the void.

Northern’s defense played tough throughout the first half and it, too, stopped a drive midway through the second quarter. A pass from Scott Ash to Richie Sykes, along with runs by Lopez and Sykes, moved the Raiders to the Northern 21 before the march fizzled.

The Bears picked up one first down on their ensuing drive but, once again, the Middletown defense held, forcing a punt that Ventura returned to the 36.

The Blue Raiders’ third display of fireworks came just one play later when Ash hooked up with Chris Joseph on a 10-yard toss that turned into a blazing 64-yard touchdown connection. With Anthony LaVia’s kick, the Blue Raiders led 13-0 with 4:05 left in the first half. The lead held up heading into the halftime break.

Barrett’s pass interception on Middletown’s third play of the second half led to Northern’s lone score of the night. The touchdown came on a 41-yard pass from Barrett to Tim Geiser with 7:18 left in the third quarter. Following the touchdown and kickoff runs by Sykes and Lopez moved the Raiders on their next possession. But, again, the Northern defense held on and, aided by a Middletown holding penalty, the drive ended at the Bears’ 31.

But the Bears got very little following the turnover on downs.

A pass breakup by Antonio Bryant on third and 6 forced a Northern punt with time winding down in the third. With Ethan Miller, Joey Gusler, Senior, Matt Lugo and Quincy Reinnagal paving the way up front, Lopez and Sykes got the drive moving and the Blue Raiders reached the Northern York 27 on the final play of the quarter.

Following a motion penalty on the first play of the fourth, Ash took a keeper 7 yards, Lopez ran for 8 on a play that the Bears were flagged for a facemask penalty, and Sykes ran three straight times for a first and goal at the one.

Ash took it in from there, LaVia added the kick and the Blue Raiders earned a 20-6 cushion.

On first down from the 30, Radabaugh sacked Northern’s second quarterback, Jordan Heisey, for a loss. Two plays later Senior dropped Kyle Swartz 8 yards behind the line forcing a Polar Bear punt. The Raiders picked up two more points on the next play when the center snap sailed over the head of punter Tommy Molsky and into the end zone for a safety.

Following the free kick, the Blue Raiders drove down the field, keyed by a 24-yard screen pass from Ash to Lopez, in a time-killing march. And, although the drive ran out of downs at the Northern 5, the Raiders locked up the victory when Sykes returned an interception 12 yards for a defensive touchdown with 1:19 left in the game.

Middletown’s defense held the Polar Bears to just 45 yards on the ground in the win. Offensively Lopez rushed for 174 yards on 22 carries, Sykes earned 59 yards on 12 runs and Ash completed 4 of 8 passes for 126 yards.

The Blue Raiders (2-0) are scheduled to play host to Bishop McDevitt (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at War Memorial Field. 

JV team wins, 30-0

On Saturday morning, the Middletown junior varsity team shut out Northern York 30-0 in their first game of the season.

The Blue Raiders broke a scoreless tie early in the second quarter when Tim Wagner returned a pass interception 70 yards for the score. Tajae Broadie’s run for two points gave the home team an 8-0 lead.

The Raiders padded their lead to 16-0 on a 39-yard run by Jules Nester with 1:07 left in the half. The run was keyed by a terrific downfield block by Ryan Goff.

In the third quarter, the Raiders scored again on a 15-yard pass from Dylon Zettlemoyer to Nester, who also added the run for two points that gave the Middletown side a 24-0 lead.

Broadie’s 45-yard touchdown run with 4:12 left in the third closed out the scoring.

Avery Williams took away the Polar Bears’ scoring threat in the fourth quarter with his pass theft in the end zone with 4:01 left in the game.

Broadie ran for 147 yards on just 10 carries and Zettlemoyer completed 5 of 6 passes for 58 yards.

The defense held Northern to less than 20 yards on the ground.