Titans romp to title
BEDFORD – The last time Tussey Mountain tasted victory in a district final, none of the players on the current roster was even born.
The year was 1988, and the Titans captured their first title.
Flash forward to the here-and-now, and the current players have only heard stories of teams in the past.
On Friday night at Bison Stadium in Bedford, the 2013 Titans etched their names in the record books alongside that first title team as they scored 42 straight points in cruising past top-seeded Berlin Brothersvalley, 42-14, in the District 5 Class A championship.
Tussey will face either Sto-Rox or North Catholic in the PIAA playoffs next weekend.
“It feels amazing to win District 5 … We had this dream all season long,” Tussey Mountain’s Daniel Taylor said. “We were down at first, but we just pulled together and came back.”
After getting embarrassed on the first play of the game when Berlin sophomore Braden Fochtman, who led all rushers with 119 yards, ran up the middle for a 67-yard touchdown, the Tussey Mountain offense responded by going three and out on two straight possessions.
However, the defense held on the Mountaineers’ first chance in the second quarter as Berlin had to punt from its own end zone – a 38-yard punt by David Krouse.
Tussey started with the ball in Mountaineer territory (47-yard line), and immediately leading rusher Darrin Sipes gutted the Berlin defense for a 29-yard gain to the 18.
Fellow 1,000-yard rusher, Daniel Taylor, followed suit and went 18 yards up the middle to put the Titans on the board at 9:44. Curtis Wentz added the extra point to tie the game.
“There wasn’t a whole lot we did differently offensively [in the second quarter],” Tussey coach Josh Smith said. “We just had to figure out what they [Berlin Brothersvalley] were doing and what they were trying to shut down. It took us a little bit … but we really got it rolling then.”
“We had it going there early,” Berlin coach Doug Paul said. “They just grabbed momentum from us and never gave it back. They took us completely out of our game plan. We don’t have the passing attack to be able to get back in the game.”
In a game with two explosive offenses, that was the only time the score was knotted.
“We knew we were going to have adversity, we just had to overcome it,” Sipes said. “We had to bounce back, pick everybody up, not get down and just [do what we had to do] to move on.”
Tussey Mountain forced another three and out, and the Titans were back in business as the three-pronged rushing attack of Taylor, Sipes and Kyle Kline got them the 40 yards they needed to reach paydirt. Kline ran up the middle from 5 yards out to give his team a lead they didn’t relinquish with 6:42 before the half.
“We had no doubt in our mind that we could back,” Taylor said.
The wheels continued to fall off for Berlin Brothersvalley on the ensuing drive as Fochtman took his eyes off an option pitch from quarterback EJ Custer, and Titan Quinn Barnett picked up the fumble 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage at the Berlin 25.
Barnett made good on the hustle play as he needed just one play to find a wide-open Wyatt Brumbaugh, who got past the Mountaineer defense, in the end zone for a 25-yard TD pass.
“He [Barnett] made a good read,” Brumbaugh said. “They [Berlin] jumped the underneath route, I just kept running and was wide open.”
Wentz added the point after to increase the lead to 21-7 and then ended a promising 13-play Berlin drive when he sacked Custer for a 14-yard loss on a fourth and 6 from the TM 15.
After the teams exchanged punts to open the second half, the Titans once again took over in prime field position at the Berlin 30.
Taylor ran for 9 on first down, then Sipes had runs of 7 and 13 before Taylor pounded his way past the goal line from the 1 to give his team a three-touchdown lead.
“We may not be the biggest offensive line the the world,” Smith said. “But our kids do a great job with our scheme. We like to use our aggressiveness, our strength and our speed – they execute well.”
Berlin was unable to get much going again as it was forced to punt. Another bad punt by Krouse, a 16-yarder off the side of his foot, set the Titans up at midfield with 3:46 left in the third.
Tussey began to eat up time as Barnett completed four passes on the drive, including an 11-yarder to Taylor, and then two straight to Sipes for 21 – one of which was a 10-yard strike on fourth and 6 that kept the drive alive.
Sipes, who led the Titans with 90 rushing yards on 14 carries, earned a 2-yard TD just five plays later.
“We have great leaders, and Darrin [Sipes], especially, is one of them,” Smith said. “He plays a very physical style of football. He has a strong drive, just like a lot of our players. He’s a special player.”
The struggles continued for Custer and the Mountaineers as the senior signal caller was picked off by Sipes who returned it 63 yards to the house – kicking the mercy rule running clock into effect following Wentz’ sixth extra point.
“They got some great ball players on that team,” Paul said. “It’s tough [to defend them], but fundamentally, we didn’t play a very good defense game.”
Bryce Fochtman gained 52 of his 58 yards on the last Berlin drive of the game, albeit with Tussey Mountain’s starters on the sidelines waiting to celebrate, including an 8-yard plunge that ended the scoring drought and set the final with 3:14 left in the game.
“We knew we had to beat this team,” Sipes said. “We came into this game, and everybody was predicting against us. We knew we just had to score points and shut them down on defense.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain0 21 7 14 – 42
Berlin Brothersvalley7 0 0 7 – 14
BB-Bra. Fochtman 67 run (Sprowls kick), 11:44.
TM-Taylor 18 run (Wentz kick), 9:44.
TM-K. Kline 5 run (Wentz kick), 6:42.
TM-Brumbaugh 25 pass from Q. Barnett (Wentz kick), 5:12.
TM-Taylor 1 run (Wentz kick), 6:13.
TM-Sipes 3 run (Wentz kick), 10:34.
TM-Sipes 63 interception return (Wentz kick), 9:06.
BB-Bry. Fochtman 8 run (Sprowls kick), 3:14.
RUSHING: Tussey Mountain-K. Kline 7-20, Taylor 12-63, Sipes 14-90, Q. Barnett 3-3, Black 1-3, Mitchell 1-0, Lemin 1-(-4). Berlin Brothersvalley-Bra. Fochtman 20-119, C. Belcher 6-22, EJ Custer 5-(-1), Ta. Cahill 2-8, DeArmitt 3-6, Bry. Fochtman 9-58.
PASSING: Tussey Mountain-Q. Barnett 5-11-0-63, Mitchell 0-0-0-0. Berlin Brothersvalley-EJ Custer 6-19-1-74.
RECEIVING: Tussey Mountain-Brumbaugh 1-25, Taylor 2-17, Sipes 2-21. Berlin Brothersvalley-Bra. Fochtman 1-6, DeArmitt 1-5, Stockwell 3-42, Bry. Fochtman 1-21.
INTERCEPTIONS: Tussey Mountain-Sipes. Berlin Brothersvalley-None.