Titans ride momentum from Day’s play
SAXTON — Tussey Mountain freshman Aaron Day was just merely doing his job when the ball found its way into his arms.
Day scooped the ball off of teammate Cole Weist’s shoulder and ran the final 6 yards for a touchdown that broke open a close game with Claysburg-Kimmel as the Titans kicked off the season with a 42-28 victory over the Bulldogs on Friday night at Dick L. Hess Memorial Field.
“We preach to these kids to get 11 guys around the ball. If you do, good things are going to happen,” Tussey Mountain coach Anthony Sottasante said. “The more guys you have around the ball when it turns loose, the better chance you have to get ahold of it.”
After Claysburg scored on a 20-yard pass play from Corey Chamberlain to Kobe Harr less than 2 minutes into the second half to tighten the score at 16-12 in favor of TM, Weist took a hand-off and gained 2 yards before he had the ball poked out of his hands and roll up his arm and around to the back of his shoulder where an alert Day was able to pick it off and cap off the TD run.
“So, I was just pushing behind Weist and all of the sudden I see the ball on his shoulder,” Day said. “Then I saw it, grabbed it and just trucked the whole pile for a touchdown for my team. I’m just proud of the whole team today and how we played in general.”
The score at the 8:55 mark of the third was the first of 20 unanswered points that allowed Tussey to seize complete control on the game and take a 36-12 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The Day play was just one of a series of strange plays that went in the Titans’ favor on the evening.
“It’s tough when you have all the self-inflicted wounds that we had tonight,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Matt Bilchak said. “We had the punt block, they had the called interception — they’re just freak things that you just can’t do if you’re going to win football games. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch the breaks tonight and Tussey did.”
Following a scoreless opening quarter where the defenses took center stage, TM literally stole their first touchdown. With the Bulldogs backed up at their own 5, Chamberlain tried handing off to Zach Claycomb but Tussey’s Noah Foor read the play and didn’t let the exchange take place as he ran the ball 3 yards for the game’s opening points.
C-K answered right back though as Chamberlain hit Harr for a 16-yard strike, then the two failed to connect on the two-point conversion to keep the score at 8-6.
The Titans only needed one play as QB Matt Leonard and Brady Villa, who hooked up for 137 yards on five catches, got together on a 62-yard pass play to send their team into the half up 16-6.
Following Day’s TD, Chamberlain found Claycomb on a 12-yard strike that he struggled to haul in before giving it away to Tussey. The Bulldogs’ coaching staff didn’t think he ever had control of the catch but the officials ruled in favor of the Titans.
Kaden Lucko plowed his way in from 1-yard out to cap off that turnover at the 5:57 mark of the third to push the score to 28-12.
On Claysburg’s ensuing possession, they were forced to punt and Tussey Mountain once again found itself on the right side of the play as Chad Morningstar blocked Zachary McCarty’s punt, then recovered it to set up a Weist 1-yard touchdown run on first down to raise the margin to 36-12.
“We knew going in Tussey was going to be physical and that they were a good football team,” Bilchak said. “We had some big plays, but we just couldn’t string enough of those plays together to consistently get the results that we wanted.”
McCarty was able to get revenge as his interception of Leonard set up a Chamberlain 5-yard TD pass to R.J. Helsel for the score and Chamberlain two-point conversion to close the gap to a two score (36-20) with 8:52 remaining.
Lucko closed out the Tussey Mountain scoring and put the game completely out of reach with a 26-yard burst to paydirt with just 1:24 left to go.
“They had nine starters back on defense. For us to put up 42 points up is pretty expressive,” Sottasante said. “You know, we’re going to get better on offense every week. We’ve got some execution things to clean up, but that’s normal this time of year.”
Harr would reached the end zone for the third time in the game to end the scoring — this time on a 61-yard sprint down the right sideline with 51.2 showing on the game clock.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel 0 6 6 16 — 28
Tussey Mountain 0 16 20 6 — 42
TM–Foor 3 interception return (Co. Weist run), 5:53.
CK–Harr 16 pass from Chamberlain (pass failed), 4:22.
TM–Villa 62 pass from Leonard (Co. Weist run), 4:05.
CK–Harr 20 pass from Chamberlain (run failed), 10:06.
TM–Day 6 fumble recovery (run failed), 8:55.
TM–Lucko 1 run (run failed), 5:57.
TM–Co. Weist 1 run (Leonard pass from Foor), 3:59.
CK–Helsel 5 pass from Chamberlain (Chamberlain run), 8:52.
TM–Lucko 26 run (run failed), 1:24.
CK–Harr 61 run (Helsel pass from Chamberlain), 51.2.
TEAM STATISTICS CK TM
First downs 14 13
Total yards 271 387
Rushes-yards 37-135 39-204
Yards passing 136 183
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 17-25-2 13-22-1
Punts-avg. 6-23.2 3-23.0
Fumbles-lost 4-1 3-0
Penalties-yards 3-28 4-37
RUSHING–Claysburg-Kimmel, Chamberlain 8-(-22), Harr 7-81, Helsel 11-36, Claycomb 6-12, Shawley 5-8. Tussey Mountain, Co. Weist 23-110, Lucko 6-52, Leonard 1-0, Gorey 7-44, TEAM 2-(-2).
PASSING–Claysburg-Kimmel, Chamberlain 17-25-2-136. Tussey Mountain, Leonard 13-22-1-183.
RECEIVING–Claysburg-Kimmel, Harr 5-70, Oakes 1-4, Claycomb 2-14, Musselman 6-44, Helsel 1-5, Shawley 2-(-1). Tussey Mountain, Co. Weist 1-(-1), Lucko 3-21, Gorey 4-26, Villa 5-137.