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Midd-West stumped in PHAC opener

Warriors ride strong rushing attack to win

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Montoursville's Rocco Pulizzi (6) is forced out of bounds by Midd-West's Corey Reinard during the first quarter of the high school football season opener on Friday at Montoursville.

MONTOURSVILLE — Brad Hatter expected a challenge from Montoursville’s offensive and defensive fronts. He didn’t quite expect the way the two units dominated Midd-West in the Mustangs’ welcome to the PHAC on Friday night.

The Warriors’ defensive line lived in the Midd-West backfield, helping force four interceptions. The offensive line paved the way for three scoring runs of at least 28 yards. Midd-West managed just 104 yards of offense as it dropped its season-opener to the Warriors, 56-7, at Memorial Stadium.

“They were maybe even more so of a challenge than we expected,” Hatter said. “I thought we had some good lines up front on both sides of the ball and we might be able to take advantage of our size. But they’re quick and they’re aggressive. They read the run and they’re coming downhill. It’s hard for us to simulate that in practice.”

The defending District 4 champion Warriors were relentless defensively, pushing past Midd-West’s offensive line at every dropback by quarterback Christian Regester. The Mustangs’ junior signal-caller completed just one pass in the first quarter for zero yards, and just two in the first half for 12 total yards. Twice he was intercepted in the first half by Montoursville’s Dillon Young, the first as he was hammered from the blind side as he threw.

Life was just as tough for Midd-West’s run game as it had negative rushing yards in the first half, and only 38 total yards on 27 carries for the game.

“We had some open receivers and stuff like that, but we didn’t have enough time to get those passes off,” Hatter said. “Credit to their defensive line and their gameplan and how they got after us.”

Montoursville wanted to ease its offense into the game. Junior quarterback Maddix Dalena was making his first career start. The offensive line was replacing four starters from last year’s state quarterfinal team. So coach J.C. Keefer wanted to focus on getting his playmakers the ball in space.

That’s why Dylan Moll caught an easy bubble screen early in the first quarter. And once in the open field, Moll was tougher to tackle than the wind. He scored from 44 yards out on that bubble screen. He added a 47-yard touchdown run on the Warriors’ next series when he broke through to the secondary and got the safety all twisted up.

Rocco Pulizzi (11 carries, 130 yards), scored the next two touchdowns on runs of 28 and 47 yards. Both times he broke free at the line of scrimmage and outran the defense to the end zone.

“It’s hard to simulate that in practice for the kind of speed and how physical he runs the ball,” Hatter said. “It was tough sledding for us. We got behind the 8-ball and things snowballed quickly on us and we weren’t able to recover.”

“You give Rocco or Dylan Moll a crease, and it’s good luck,” Keefer said. “Right off the bat we were throwing those screens because I felt the matchup that benefited us was our skill guys against theirs. I wanted to give our line a chance to get their feet underneath them. Being their first start, I didn’t know what was going through their mind or how they were feeling. But I knew what Dylan Moll and those guys were thinking. They’ve been there before.”

Montoursville outgained Midd-West last night, 379-104. In his first varsity start, Dalena threw for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Montoursville’s defense forced four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Midd-West’s lone score came when Regester hit Corey Reinard for a 40-yard touchdown strike in the second half.

“We’re going to have to come back and keep working to get better,” Hatter said. “That’s a good football team in Montoursville. They’re quick, strong, physical and they took it to us.”

Montoursville 56, Midd-West 7

Midd-West 0 0 0 7 – 7

Montoursville 21 14 21 0 – 56

First quarter

Mon – Dylan Moll 44 pass from Maddix Dalena (Dillon Young kick), 9:11

Mon – Moll 47 run (Young kick), 5:34

Mon – Rocco Pulizzi 28 run (Young kick)

Second quarter

Mon – Pulizzi 47 run (Young kick), 8:32

Mon – C.J. Signor 1 run (Young kick), 2:26

Third quarter

Mon – Signor 3 pass from Dalena (Young kick), 5:41

Mon – Isaiah Fenner 44 interception return (Young kick), 3:35

Mon – Marco Pulizzi 46 interception return (Young kick), 2:01

Fourth quarter

MW – Corey Reinard 40 pass from Christian Regester (Ethan Schlief), 10:06

MW Mon

First downs 6 15

Rushes-yds 27-38 28-182

Com-att-int 4-15-4 13-19-1

Pass yards 66 197

Total yards 104 379

Fumbles-lost 4-2 4-0

Penalties-yards 2-17 6-31

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing-Midd-West, Hunter Wolfley, 13-36; Austin Dorman, 5-17; Caden Wolfley, 3-14; Shawn Lightner, 1-(-1); Christian Regester, 5-(-28). Montoursville, Rocco Pulizzi, 11-130, 2 TDs; Dylan Moll, 2-48, TD; Dylan Blackwell, 5-20; Zach Barnes, 1-5; Dylan Bennett, 2-4; C.J. Signor, 3-1, TD; Bryce Eberhart, 1-(-8); Maddix Dalena, 3-(-18).

Passing-Midd-West, Christian Regester, 4-15-4, 66 yds., TD. Montoursville, Maddix Dalena, 12-18-1, 179 yds., 2 TDs; Bryce Eberhart, 1-1-0, 18 yds.

Receiving-Midd-West, Corey Reinard, 3-66, TD; Hunter Wolfley, 1-0. Montoursville, Dylan Moll, 4-84, TD; Dillon Young, 2-42; Dylan Bennett, 2-32; C.J. Signor, 2-20, TD; Zach Barnes, 1-18; Ethan Lepley, 1-4; Rocco Pulizzi, 1-(-3).

INTERCEPTIONS – Montoursville, Dillon Young (2), Marco Pulizzi, Isaiah Fenner.

RECORDS: Montoursville (1-0); Midd-West (0-1).

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