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Game gets away from Mountain Lions

HARRISBURG — While some might scoff at the final score of 49-20 Friday night, even Altoona’s loss to state-ranked Central Dauphin (No. 3 in Class 6A) at Landis Field in suburban Harrisburg looks like a step in the right direction for the rapidly rebuilding Mountain Lions’ program.

Coach Vince Nedimyer Jr.’s group is clearly competing against top Mid-Penn Commonwealth opponents, including the host Rams, who had outscored Altoona a combined 111-7 in the 2018-19 meetings.

Play of the game: A one-possession game at halftime (21-13 CD), the Rams really seized control after an 11-play, 63-yard scoring drive opened the third quarter. On Altoona’s ensuing drive, blitzing LB Shamarr Joppy sacked QB Marcus Day, forcing a fumble that was recovered by teammate Darrion Thomas. Three plays later, Joppy’s 7-yard TD run gave Central Dauphin a 35-13 lead with 4:42 left in the quarter.

Player of the game: The Rams deliver punches from all over the field, but we’ll give the honor to Joppy for his sack/forced fumble and also because he totaled a game-high 87 rushing yards and two scores on just six carries. For the Mountain Lions, Day hung in tough against a beefy, fast and disciplined Rams defense, leading his team with 69 yards rushing on 12 carries, and adding 84 yards on 5-of-10 passing.

Unsung hero(es): For CD, starting tailback Timmy Smith did enough damage (9-69 rushing; 2-15 receiving) to keep the Mountain Lions’ defense honest and open more electrifying holes for big-play studs like Joppy, Malachi Bowman (3-38 rushing, 4-48 receiving, kickoff return TD) and Tyrell English (8-49 rushing). Smith was also the opposite of unsung, landing homecoming king honors at halftime. For Altoona, Kyle Murray was a quality contributor in all three phases of the game.

Most vital statistic(s): Altoona won the first-half turnover battle 1-0, with an interception by Aaron Carothers after his offense went downfield and scored on the opening drive (15-yard toss left TD run by Jake Adams). However, the Rams forced three turnovers in the second half (two interceptions and a fumble) to help the hosts cement control.

Central Dauphin coach Glen McNamee quote: “It was a good challenge. Hats off to Altoona. They are much improved and they really came out with a nice plan. They were fired up and brought their ‘A’ game, so our kids had to feel that, deal with it, and I loved the way they responded to it.”

Nedimyer quote: “We have confidence in every one of those kids. We have a great group of seniors who’ve done a great job of leading this team. To be honest with you, we wanted to see where we stacked up. I could not have been more excited to come down here and see this group come out and play against that group. Because in years past, it’s been, ‘Oh, it’s Altoona.’ But we’re getting to the point where it’s, ‘Oh, it’s Altoona, we gotta play.'”

Notable: Altoona FB Ethan Stroup, who rushed for 234 yards in last week’s win over Chambersburg, zipped for 31 yards on his first carry Friday night. But his next 10 carries netted just 22 yards as he finished with 11 totes for 53 yards and a TD. … Day’s five completions found five different receivers, with the longest play being a 47-yard connection with Tyreke Green in the second quarter to help set up Stroup’s 3-yard TD run. … After CD scored on all three third-quarter possessions to turn a 21-13 halftime lead into a 42-13 advantage, Altoona finally answered with a TD (10-yard run by Day) early in the fourth. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Smith and recovered by the Lions’ Ethan Hileman, but offsetting penalties forced a re-kick. Bowman took that kickoff back 84 yards for a score, eliminating any lingering hopes of an Altoona comeback.

Records: Altoona (2-2 overall, 2-1 Mid-Penn Commonwealth); Central Dauphin (4-0 overall, 4-0 Commonwealth).

Next week: Altoona is expected to play State College in the District 6 Class 6A final. Central Dauphin visits school district rival Central Dauphin East.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Altoona 6 7 0 7 — 20

Central Dauphin 7 14 21 7 — 49

First Quarter

A–Adams 15 run (kick failed), 9:38.

CD–Bowman 11 pass from Mosey (Stauffer kick), 3:50

Second Quarter

CD–Ficca 22 pass from Mosey (Stauffer kick), 8:08

CD–Joppy 56 run (Stauffer kick), 3:49

A–Stroup 3 run (Palilla kick), 1:00

Third Quarter

CD–Smith 8 run (Stauffer kick), 7:51

CD–Joppy 7 run (Stauffer kick), 4:42

CD–English 5 run (Stauffer kick), 1:16

Fourth Quarter

A–Day 10 run (Palilla kick), 9:10

CD–Bowman 84 kickoff return (Stauffer kick), 8:44

TEAM STATISTICS A CD

First downs 14 22

Total yards 290 444

Rushes-yards 41-206 35-282

Yards passing 84 162

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 5-11-2 16-24-1

Punts-avg. 5-35.6 0-0

Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-yards 2-12 8-58

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–Altoona, Day 12-69, Stroup 11-53, Yost 12-39, Adams 2-18, Spriggs 2-14, Murray 2-13. Central Dauphin, Joppy 6-87, Smith 9-69, English 8-49, Bowman 3-38, Mosey 4-24, Chase 3-12, Ficca 1-4, Sauers 1-(-1).

PASSING–Altoona, Day 5-10-1-84; Alwine 0-1-1-0. Central Dauphin, Mosey 16-22-1-162; Travis Linn 0-2-0-0.

RECEIVING–Altoona, Green 1-47, Robinson 1-17, Dokes 1-8, Petucci 1-7, Murray 1-5. Central Dauphin, Joppy 6-51, Bowman 4-48, Ficca 4-48, Smith 2-15.

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