Tussey jumps all over ’Dawgs
CLAYSBURG – With undefeated Mount Union looming on the horizon for Tussey Mountain, Friday night’s matchup with Claysburg-Kimmel could have been a classic trap game for Titans coach Josh Smith and his club.
Tussey was 6-1 and the Bulldogs were 1-6. In fact, Claysburg gained 32 yards on its first two plays of the game, courtesy of quarterback Lucas Ebersole and receivers Logan Johnson and Austin Roudabush.
“They had a nice little drive going there, but we continue to cause turnovers,” said Smith, who watched Andrew Black pick off Ebersole on the third play of the game. The Titans then turned it on big time, scoring 21 first-quarter points en route to a 49-7 Inter-County Conference win.
“Our guys have had pretty good focus all year. They know the deal,” Smith said of the next two weeks, which feature Mount Union and Everett. “And then the playoffs start and seeding is important to us. But just as important is playing your best football of the year.”
The Titans did that in the first half, scoring six touchdowns on six first-half possessions.
“We knew coming in that Tussey was going to be very difficult to stop. We knew they had a high-powered offense,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Gabe Walter said. “I know they lost (Darrin) Sipes, but they have (Daniel) Taylor back and their quarterback (Quinn Barnett) is very disciplined. He carries out everything. He is the best progression quarterback I’ve seen in the ICC in a long time. Those guys can move the ball.”
Behind the running of Taylor, Barnett, Drew Sitch and Curtis Wentz, the Titans scored three first-quarter touchdowns. Taylor scored on runs of 56 and 2 yards while Sitch scored on a 3-yard run. Taylor finished with 111 yards on just six carries.
“We run Quinn more this year than last year to add another aspect of our offense to defend,” Smith said. “But throwing is important to us because we know teams are going to load up the box on us. We have to make it tough to defend us.”
In the second quarter, the Titans did work on their passing game as Barnett hit Taylor with a 22-yard scoring strike while Mike Mitchell caught a 25-yard touchdown pass.
For Claysburg, Walter watched one of his top offensive weapons, Johnson, go down with a leg injury early in the second quarter. He did not return.
“He is someone who could hurt us,” said Smith.
Walter knew losing the senior back was costly but did not use it as an excuse.
“We lost our biggest weapon on offense, but we cannot allow heads to hang,” he said. “We came in pretty banged up and it got worse, but it is what it is and we will suit up 11 and get them ready to play.”
Wentz, who kicked seven extra points, scored from 1 yard out to end the first half with the Titans up 42-0. Sitch returned the second-half kickoff 68 yards to start things off, giving his team first-and-goal from the 2. Wentz scored on the first play from scrimmage, making it 49-0 and from there, it was all backups for Tussey.
Claysburg was able to put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter behind the running of sophomore tailback Jakob Dodson, who carried 12 times for 59 yards. With 6:42 to go in the game, Cole Hypes scored from 1 yard out. The Austin Hunter PAT kick set the final at 49-7.
“That is always the expectation,” replied Walter, when asked if he still saw effort despite the lopsided score. “I liked the way we came out in this game with those strikes down the field. I felt like we were going to score there, but we’ve got to take care of the ball. We’ve got to finish drives.”
Smith isn’t a fan of the mercy rule, which kicked in the entire second half. But resting starters for one night – with an important part of the season on the horizon – was not a bad tradeoff.
“When you don’t have them, a half can take forever,” he said. “You wonder if someone would get hurt, but I am pretty sure we won’t be doing that from now on.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain21 21 7 0 – 49
Claysburg-Kimmel0 0 0 7 – 7
TM-Taylor 56 run (Wentz kick), 9:40
TM-Taylor 2 run (Wentz kick), 6:24
TM-Sitch 3 run (Wentz kick), 3:21
TM-Mitchell 25 pass from Barnett (Wentz kick), 11:35
TM-Taylor 22 pass from Barnett, 6:51 (Wentz kick)
TM-Wentz 1 run (Wentz kick), 1:20.
TM-Wentz 2 run (Wentz kick).
CK-C. Hypes 1 run (Hunter kick) 6:42
RUSHING: Tussey Mountain-Sitch 6-28, Taylor 6-111, Barnett 4-49, Wentz 8-60, Rhoat 4-(-13), Curfman 1-3, Lemin 2-5, Baker 4-9, Zelanko 3-22, Rankin 1-(-3), TEAM 1-(-1). Claysburg-Kimmel-Johnson 5-16, C.Hypes 3-(-1), Roudabush 4-12, Ebersole 4-(-17), Dodson 12-59, J. Hypes 2-2, Zembower 1-5.
PASSING: Tussey Mountain-Barnett 5-6-0-108, Rankin 0-1-0-0. Claysburg-Kimmel-Ebersole 6-19-2-86, Chamberlain 1-3-0-10.
RECEIVING:Tussey Mountain-Mitchell 1-25, Wentz 9, Black 1-19, Taylor 2-55. Claysburg-Kimmel-Gergely 1-26, Roudabush 1-14, Johnson 3-35, C. Hypes 1-11, Dodson 1-10.
INTERCEPTIONS: Tussey Mountain-Lemin, Black.