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HS FOOTBALL: Scranton Prep Rolls Over Montoursville

November 25, 2018
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HS FOOTBALL: Scranton Prep Rolls Over Montoursville

DUNMORE — It had the potential for a disastrous start. Scranton Prep fumbled on the game’s first play deep in its territory. Montoursville recovered and had the chance to seize momentum in Saturday’s PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal. However, the Cavaliers defense wouldn’t allow it. It forced a stop on downs, setting the tone for the rest of the game as Scranton Prep rolled to a 45-7 victory over the District 4 champion Warriors at Dunmore High School’s Veterans Memorial Stadium. “That (first) play got me a little worried,” said Scranton Prep senior quarterback Leo O’Boyle, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns. “But our defense came out really determined in this game. They made some great plays and made a huge stop for us. “We just kind of took off from that point.” Junior Tucker Johnson ran for 108 yards, while senior Ben Jones added 89 rushing yards and two scores as the District 2 champion Cavaliers (13-1) had 477 yards total offense. They advance to the state semifinals against a familiar foe — District 3 champion Middletown, which beat Conwell-Egan in its quarterfinal Friday night, 21-14. Day, site and time of game will be announced. Middletown has ended Scranton Prep’s season each of the last two years. “Our kids up front played phenomenal, Leo played phenomenal — everybody played great,” Scranton Prep coach Terry Gallagher said. “We got the win and now we get another opportunity.” Defensively, the Cavaliers held Montoursville (11-3) to 28 rushing yards (198 total) and forced three turnovers. “We had a tough time figuring out what we were going to be able to do to possibly get some yards and move the chains,” Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. “We hang our hat on running the football and play-action passing. That’s where our big plays come from. If you can’t run the football, there’s no such thing as play-action passing.” Senior defensive lineman Dan Belardi led Scranton Prep with seven tackles (six solo), including one for loss. Johnson added five tackles (four solo) from his linebacker spot, including two for loss, along with one pass breakup and an interception. Senior linebacker Mitchell Simon also had five tackles (three solo). “Our coach always preaches to come out like we’re down 7-0 and fly to the ball,” Belardi said. “I really thought we did that. Nothing in the run game. We just fought hard and did what we were taught.” There was no bigger stand than on the possession after Montoursville’s Ryan Keen recovered a Johnson fumble at the Cavaliers 28 on the opening play. Logan Ott was held to two yards each on first and second down. After an illegal procedure penalty pushed the Warriors back five yards, junior defensive end Jake Aebli sacked quarterback Hunter Shearer for a two-yard loss. On fourth down, Johnson broke up a pass to turn the ball over on downs. The offense responded with an eight-play, 69-yard scoring drive capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass down the middle from O’Boyle to Michael Greco. The first of Alec Buttner’s six extra points made it 7-0 with 6:09 left in the first quarter. Following a three-and-out by Montoursville, the Cavaliers went on the march again, covering 88 yards in 10 plays. Again, the drive culminated in an O’Boyle-to-Greco touchdown pass, this time from six yards out, to make it 14-0 with 11:17 left in the second quarter. Buttner’s 25-yard field goal with 5:11 left in the second gave Scranton Prep a 17-0 halftime lead. Then, after Montoursville punted away the opening possession of the second half, the Cavaliers put together a 17-play, 85-yard scoring drive that lasted six minutes. Five times on the march they converted on third down and Jones finished it off with an 11-yard, second-effort touchdown run that made it 24-0 with 3:37 to go in the third quarter. A 42-yard completion from Shearer to Ott on the ensuing possession moved the Warriors to the Scranton Prep 11. But Carter Odell halted the threat with an interception in the end zone. That set up a 58-yard touchdown burst by Jones on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 31-0. “The first touchdown I just didn’t go down. I kept driving my feet and I got in eventually,” Jones said. “The second touchdown, the gap just opened up and I just ran for daylight. “I’ve waited patiently all year for my chance. My number was called and I just did what I had to do.” An interception by Johnson set up O’Boyle’s third touchdown pass of the game — a 17-yarder to Brendan Colleran — to extend the lead to 38-0 with 10:22 left in the fourth. Fittingly, the defense capped the scoring for the Cavaliers when Odell scooped up a fumble and returned it 64 yards for a score with 7:12 remaining. Montoursville spoiled the shutout with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Shearer to Jaxon Dalena with 5:04 left. Contact the writer: swalsh@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 ext. 5109; @swalshTT on Twitter

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