HOLLIDAYSBURG - Hollidaysburg took on a Mars team that was coming off its first loss of the season last week. If there was anyone that wondered how the Fightin' Planets would react coming into Tiger Stadium Friday night, they found out right away.
The Golden Tigers watched sophomore running back Josh Schultheis carry the ball six straight times on a six-play, 67-yard drive, scoring on a 22-yard run that started an offensive explosion that ended in a 49-7 victory for Mars.
The Planets are 7-1 while the Tigers dipped to 3-5.
From the "boat-load of film" Tiger coach John Barton and his staff watched on Mars, seeing it in person was just as amazing for the coach.
"He's the man," Barton said of Schultheis, who carried the ball 23 times for 202 yards and did not play in the fourth quarter. "He's impressive. And as talented as he is, they have other guys who are good, too."
Mars coach Scott Heinauer was impressed with how his club responded to losing last week to Knoch.
"We had a good week of practice, and I thought that was a big factor," he said. "I thought we did what we were supposed to do, but I was very surprised at how well we ran the ball. Hollidaysburg was in a lot of games. They came back against a good Hampton team."
Hollidaysburg, which had just one first down in the first two quarters of play, had its defense on the field a lot in the first half, especially in the second quarter when Mars scored three touchdowns for a 28-0 halftime lead.
"Our kids do block well, and No. 38 [Schultheis] runs well, too, and he runs hard," Heinauer said. "He doesn't go down on the first hit."
It didn't help that starters Greg Dinges, Kaleb Springer and Dan Fleck were on the sidelines in street clothes because of injuries for the Tigers.
Barton didn't say the outcome would have changed had they played, but he knew the task at hand was more difficult because of the amount of youngsters who got serious minutes.
"Our guys that were in there played hard, but what makes it tough is when you face a team that plays the Wing-T as good their guys play it, executed the way they do with the speed they have ... it's just hard," he said.
Hollidaysburg gave its senior night crowd something to cheer about to open the second half. Zane Brunner returned the kickoff 78 yards to the Mars 19. Six plays later, quarterback Brian Urban scored from 2 yards out to make it 28-7.
"That kid looks like a good player," Heinauer said of Brunner. "Then their offense got on track a little bit there. We needed to go out [in the second half] and keep playing. We could have folded our tents up at that point, but we went right back and scored. I was happy to get a running clock."
The Planets returned the favor, marching 74 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 15-yard run by Alex Smith, making it 35-7 with 7:22 to go in the third quarter.
By the start of the final frame, Mars emptied its bench and started using its reserves as 11 different players wound up with at least one carry. The only score in the fourth quarter came on a 2-yard run by Sam King that made it 49-7 with 11:55 to go in the game.
The Golden Tigers wound up giving up 421 yards rushing on 58 carries.
"They are very efficient at running their offense. They run it clean. They just execute well," Barton said.
Hollidaysburg, which still has an outside chance of qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs with a win at Indiana next week, finished with just 128 yards of offense.
"What it felt like was they were winning the battle up front," Barton said. "Even when we did get a push up front, it just seemed like they really closed to the ball very well."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Mars7 21 14 7 - 49
Hollidaysburg0 0 7 0 - 7
M-Schultheis 22 run (pass failed), 9:40
M-Schultheis 20 run (Schultheis run), 10:05
M-A. Smith 14 run (M. White kick), 5:56
M - Schrock 14 pass from Nearhoof (M. White kick), 1:10
H-Urban 2 run (E. Miller kick), 9:59
M-A. Smith 15 run (M. White kick), 7:22
M-Nearhoof 1 run (M. White kick), 4:51
M-King 2 run (M. White kick), 11:55
RUSHING: Mars-Schultheis 23-202, Grosso 1-8, Smith 9-90, Lozzi 5-25, Nearhoof 7-36, Rieger 2-5, King 3-22, Rinamon 1-(-2), Rosswog 1-4, Mincer 6-32, Goddard 1-3. Hollidaysburg-Brunner 6-76, R. Miller 10-15, Hargis 4-9, Ruggery 2-(-3), Urban 7-10, Weaver 1-2, Carnell 1-0.
PASSING: Mars-Nearhoof 2-6-0-33. Hollidaysburg-Urban 4-9-1-19.
RECEIVING: Mars-Schrock 1-14, Lozzi 1-19. Hollidaysburg-Baker 2-11, Davis 1-4, Springer 1-4.