SAXTON - With 2:59 left to go before halftime and his team leading by 24 points, Tussey Mountain coach Josh Smith was perfectly content with his Titans running the ball and taking all the time off the clock.
TM couldn't even do that because quite simply, Moshannon Valley couldn't stop them as Darrin Sipes took a handoff 47 yards to the house on the fourth play on the drive.
That would be a theme for the night as the Black Knights couldn't shut down the high-powered offensive attack of the Titans as Tussey scored on seven of eight possessions with their first string on the field in a 56-26 Inter-County Conference Silver Division victory on Friday night at the Tussey Mountain Sports Complex.
"Our offensive line did a very good job up front opening massive holes for these guys [running backs]," Tussey Mountain coach Josh Smith said. "We hit some counters and stuff on them pretty well. We were also able to put the ball in the air some and gain some ground that way, which keeps throwing their defense off."
Tussey's Daniel Taylor intercepted backup quarterback Justin Kitko and returnd it 69 yards to pay dirt - which not only gave his team a 49-12 lead with 6.2 ticks left but also kicked the mercy rule into effect for the duration of the second half.
Moshannon Valley (1-2 overall, 0-1 ICC Silver) actually led in the contest, 12-7, at the 7:01 mark of the first quarter following a 65-yard touchdown pass from Eric Sherkel to Kent Stewart, and a 9-yard fumble return by Gabriel Ponist - the only offensive chance the Titans' starters had that they didn't turn into points.
"We made a couple of plays [early]," Moshannon Valley coach Mike Keith said. "Kent made a good catch and good run, then we had a big play on defense when they fumbled the ball and Gabe returned it for a touchdown. We had the momentum, and then we just got our butt kicked from that point on."
However, it was the efficiency of the Tussey Mountain offense that allowed the Titans to jump back on top for good when Kyle Kline burst through the line and into the end zone from 29 yards out, then threw to Daniel Taylor for the two-point conversion to put his team up 15-12 after one quarter of play.
The Titans (2-1, 1-0) broke the game wide open in the second quarter as they put up 34 points. Sipes scored on a 22-yard run, followed by an 11-yard Koty Taylor-Chadwick TD and a 7-yard Taylor TD, which came five plays after a Sipes interception of Kitko, before the final two tallies of the half.
"The thing that frustrated me a little bit was at the beginning of the game, we came out and spotted them 12 [points] and you can't come out and do that," Smith said. "I was happy with the way we responded. [We] came right back, drove down and scored, then started to take control."
Moshannon Valley lost starting quarterback and leading rusher Eric Sherkel (70 passing yards and 53 rushing) for the game when he went down with what he described as "stiffness in my neck" around the 10-minute mark of the second quarter. Kitko took the QB reigns but was eventually knocked out of the game for good himself by an unknown injury that left him hobbling.
Taylor would put Tussey on the board to open the half on a 65-yard run. Curtis Wentz drilled his sixth PAT of the evening to end the TM scoring.
"It felt good," Taylor said of the win. "Our line had good holes and our backs ran good all night."
Third string quarterback Levi Frailey capped off a 12-play, 64-yard drive when he called his own number from 3-yards away at the 1:11 mark - breaking a 49-0 run by Tussey Mountain.
The Titans' second string played the entire final stanza and failed to cross the goal line.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Moshannon Valley 12 0 6 8 - 26
Tussey Mountain15 34 7 0 - 56
TM- Sipes 11 pass from Q. Barnett (Wentz kick), 8:03.
MV-Stewart 65 pass from Sherkel (pass failed), 7:16.
MV-Ponist 9 fumble return (run failed), 7:01.
TM-Kline 29 run (Taylor pass from Kline), 5:12.
TM - Sipes 22 run (Wentz kick), 11:52.
TM-Taylor-Chadwick 11 run (Wentz kick), 6:55.
TM-Taylor 7 run (Wentz kick), 4:59.
TM-Sipes 47 run (Wentz kick), 1:10.
TM-Taylor 69 interception return (kick failed), 6.2.
TM- Taylor 65 run (Wentz kick), 9:48.
MV-Frailey 3 run (pass failed), 1:11.
MV- Thomas 3 run (Thomas run), 1:58.
RUSHING: Moshannon Valley- Elder 8-42, Sherkel 9-53, Kitko 3-35, Hamilton 1-6, Thomas 4-30, Frailey 8-36. Tussey Mountain- Sipes 11-122, Taylor 6-91, Taylor-Chadwick 2-(-6), Black 3-(-4), Kline 6-55, Wentz 6-71, Rankin 3-12, Sitch 2-21.
PASSING: Moshannon Valley- Sherkel 2-5-0-70, Kitko 1-8-2-5, Frailey 1-3-0-6. Tussey Mountain- Q. Barnett 5-8-0-82, L. Barnett 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Moshannon Valley- Stewart 2-70, Demko 1-5, M. Krupa 1-6. Tussey Mountain- Sipes 1-11, Taylor 1-17, Taylor-Chadwick 1-32, L. Barnett 1-13, Park 1-9.
INTERCEPTIONS: Tussey Mountain- Sipes, Taylor.
TEAM STATISTICS MVTM
Rushes-yards 33-202 39-362
Passing (c-a-i) 4-16-2 5-9-0
Yards passing 81 82
Total yards 283 444
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-30 7-35
Punts-avg. 4-32.3 1-27.0