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Points bubble over in Raider win; Boiling Springs keeps it close early, but MAHS pulls away

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

Posted 10/3/18

It was probably fitting that the big home crowd was treated to a surprise flyover by a military jet early in the first quarter on Friday night at War Memorial Field.

The Blue Raiders got off to a …

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Points bubble over in Raider win; Boiling Springs keeps it close early, but MAHS pulls away


It was probably fitting that the big home crowd was treated to a surprise flyover by a military jet early in the first quarter on Friday night at War Memorial Field.

The Blue Raiders got off to a fast start on offense as senior quarterback Scott Ash completed 3 of 4 passes for an even 100 yards in that opening period and finished up with 232 total yards and three touchdowns on 9 of 11 passes in Middletown’s 51-14 victory over visiting Boiling Springs.

The Blue Raiders also ran for more than 300 yards in the win to go to 5-1 on the season, despite the soggy conditions of the grass playing surface on the historic field. Head coach Brett Myers said the wet, muddy turf had some adverse effects on both offensive and defensive play at times that kept the visiting Bubblers in contention before the Raiders broke things open in the second quarter.

“Just feel it. It’s like walking on a sponge,” he said of the turf that had been watered down from rains earlier in the week.

Both teams went to the air early. The Blue Raiders scored on a 70-yard pass connection from Ash to junior wide receiver Chris Joseph on the first play from scrimmage for a 7-0 lead.

Boiling Springs answered quickly, lighting up their side of the scoreboard with a 69-yard pass from Zack Vonstein to Tayven Kelley that tied the score at 10:44. Boiling Springs then recovered a muffed short kickoff at the Middletown 47 and went right back to the air on first down. But Richie Sykes intercepted Vonstein on first down to turn back the threat.

Ash connected with Lamar Ventura for 21 yards and 9 yards to Sykes to start off the Raiders’ possession. But the Middletown side nearly failed to take advantage of the turnover as a rash of penalties kept the team from progressing.

Six penalties could have derailed the home team, but it survived and padded its lead to 14-7 on a 20-yard run by Jose Lopez with 7:20 left in the first period. Those penalties and several others (the Raiders were flagged for 15 in the game) had Myers and his team fighting the errors and a determined Boiling Springs throughout the game.

Penalties also aided the Bubblers in an 8-play, 56-yard drive that tied the score at 14 with 3:41 left when Vonstein connected with Mike Wagner for the equalizer.

The home team fans became concerned when Drew Uhler intercepted Ash just 14 seconds later. But the defense, led by Trayvon Joseph, Ventura, Cole Senior and others, stopped the Bubblers after the guests had picked up one first down. Three of four plays went for negative yardage, including a sack by Senior on fourth and 16 and the Blue Raiders took over at their own 41.

Sykes took it to the house on first down, breaking a tackle at the 40 on his way to a blazing 59-yard scoring run with less than a minute left in the first quarter. With Anthony LaVia’s kick, the Blue Raiders led 21-14 and the Middletown team went on a tear from that point on.

With 9:52 left in the second quarter, Lopez scored on a 25-yard run to up the lead to 28-14. Later in the first half, the Middletown defense had the Bubblers pinned back at their own 15 following a good punt by Avery Williams. An intentional grounding call against Vonstein on third down moved the ball back to the 1. Rather than trying to punt from there, Bubbler kicker Josh Otto stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety that pushed the Raiders up to a 30-14 lead.

Starting at their own 45 following the free kick, the Raiders lost two yards on first down. But one play later Ash hit Chris Joseph down the middle and the speedy receiver went the distance to give the home team a 37-14 lead.

The Blue Raiders dodged a bullet when Boiling Springs recovered a muffed punt at the Middletown 38 with 3:43 left in the first half. Despite a pair of personal fouls against the Raiders, the drive died at the 15 when Tymir Jackson recovered a fumble by Kelley with 26 seconds left.

The Bubblers put together a good drive to start the second half, but Boiling Springs came up empty when the march stalled at the 23.

The score remained at 37-14 until the Raiders finally broke the second half stalemate with 2:41 left in the third quarter. Odell Greene started off the drive with an 11-yard run and Lopez carried twice for 17 yards before breaking free on a 49-yard sprint to the end zone. Almost stopped for a loss, Lopez sidestepped his way out of trouble and took off on the long scoring run that put the Blue Raiders up by 30 points.

With time winding down in the third period, the Middletown offense was back on the field at its own 35. On first down Sykes broke free on a 40 yard run to the Bubbler 25. One play later, Ash fired a dart to Jarrod Pugh on a post pattern for the Raiders’ final touchdown of the night.

The 51-14 score set the “mercy clock” in motion, and Myers cleared his bench, letting his backup players finish the game. With 7:36 left in the game Jackson got the call on eight of 10 plays, picking up 57 total yards to wind down the clock.

Myers was pleased with the win but concerned with penalties.

“What did we have, 20 penalties?” he asked afterward. But he also said that his team played hard and acknowledged that this game came between the previous week’s emotional win over Steel-High and an upcoming showdown with Milton Hershey, a game that will be played at the Spartans’ field on Thursday.

Lopez ran for 146 yards on 12 carries and Sykes added 115 yards on five carries in the win. Chris Joseph caught 4 passes for 147 yards and Ventura had a pair of catches for 45 yards.