Trojans get key win in district race
MOUNT UNION – B.J. Loner’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns were the difference in what turned out defensive battle between a pair of high-powered offenses.
Mount Union took with those two scores a 27-25 victory over Tussey Mountain, and more important, the Trojans took their playoff seeding into their own hands.
“They were absolutely enormous,” Mount Union coach Dayton Shugarts said. “That kid somehow just seems to step it up and make those plays. He does it with him feet. I can’t say enough about him. He is a super kid. B.J. just seems to stand out.”
Mountain Union came in riding a streak of three straight 50-point or more games while Tussey Mountain had piled up 40 or more in six straight.
Both of those streaks came to a screeching halt.
It didn’t take Mount Union long to answer Tussey Mountain’s quick score that started the game.
Mount Union piled up five first downs including a 26-yard Loner run to set up Dylan Smith’s one-yard touchdown run to even the game at 7-7 just six minutes into the contest.
A big sequence came for the Trojans with around six minutes to go in the first half.
The Titans’ Darrin Sipes seemingly scored what would have been a 38-yard touchdown, but a holding call negated the touchdown.
On the next play, the center-quarterback exchange went awry and Mount Union recovered at its own 26-yard line.
Mount Union then made a huge play on third-and-long when Loner ran 19 yards for a first down.
The Trojans offense stalled again though, forcing Klayton Heffner’s fourth punt of the night.
They were able to force a Tussey Mountain three-and-out on the following possession and get the ball right back.
A pair of Walker completions set up Darrian Stapelton’s one-yard touchdown run and gave the Trojans a 14-7 lead with 28 seconds remaining in the first half.
Mount Union got a gift six seconds later.
Tussey’s Quinn Barnett hit Tyler Runk with a pass over the middle with what would have almost surely been a touchdown, but Runk dropped the perfect pass.
On the next play, Tussey Mountain had another bad snap and Mount Union recovered.
The Trojans elected to take a knee in Titan territory with three seconds left in the opening half and take the 14-7 lead into the locker room.
Mount Union, with a little help from a pair of Tussey Mountain turnovers, held the explosive Titan offense to seven first half points and 111 yards on offense.
The Mount Union defense made another big play with the Tussey Mountain offense deep in Mount Union territory when Loner picked off Barnett’s fourth-down pass to keep the game 14-7 in the Trojans’ favor.
Tussey Mountain finally score with 1:38 left in the third quarter when Kyle Kline took a pitch and hit Lance Barnett for a five-yard touchdown on a halfback pass to make it 14-13 after the extra point attempt hit the upright.
The Mount Union offense stalled on its next possession and Sipes took a carry around the left end for a 78-yard touchdown, his second touchdown of the night, to give the Titans a 19-14 lead.
“That Sipes kid … once he’s running up the field, we’re in trouble,” Shugarts said. “He can run. He’s the real deal. I watched him on film and he’s better in live action than he is on film.”
The Trojans made that lead last 13 seconds. Mount Union ran a reverse on the ensuing kickoff and Loner outran the entire Tussey Mountain defense for the go-ahead touchdown.
Loner’s second touchdown of the night, a 15-yard reception, was followed by a blocked extra point, making it an eight point Trojans advantage.
Tussey Mountain scored when Lance Barnett got behind the Mount Union defense to make it 27-25.
“We gave up a couple big plays,” Shugarts said. “Our secondary bothers me. We just can’t cover a good passing team.”
Tussey Mountain couldn’t convert the two-point play.
The Titans then recovered the ensuing onside kick. Quinn Barnett’s desperation heave with 13 seconds left was picked off by Smith and Mount Union claimed victory.
Mount Union celebrated the careers of 15 seniors on its senior night.
Mount Union improves to 8-1 and will conclude the regular season Nov. 1 when the Trojans travel to Penns Valley.