Defense overpowering in victory
By Brett Barnes
It was a night billed as a battle of offensive powerhouses. Milton-Union High School, led by a kennel of running backs that run over, around, and through defenders against Williamsport Westfall High School, led by an all-state quarterback and the Run and Shoot, fling it all over the field, spread offense. Everyone it seemed had been invited to the playoff party except for one group: the M-U Bulldog defense. So you know what they did? THEY CRASHED IT!
Milton’s defense led by Jesse Simpson, Tyler Cottrell and Kenton Dickison hurried, harassed, and hammered quarterback Kent Williamson play after play after play forcing him to commit four turnovers and sacking him four times as the M-U Bulldogs easily defeated the Westfall Mustangs 46-14 in round one of the OHSAA Division 4, Region 16 playoffs.
Often it takes a quarter or so before patterns develop in a football game, but in this game the pattern of play became evident at the coin toss. Westfall won the toss and elected to receive the football, exuding confidence that their offense would score and would score often. Somewhere during the week, the Mustang offense must have thrown a shoe. Nick Fields’ kickoff was fumbled but recovered at the nine yard line. Two dropped passes and a 5 yard run later, the ‘Stangs had to punt.
Under intense pressure, the punt traveled a total of 6 yards, and M-U had the ball first and ten at the Westfall’ 22-yard line. Five plays later, Tyler Brown scored from a yard out, and after the touchdown, Fields added the extra point for an early 7-0 lead. With that touchdown and PAT, the 2012 Bulldogs became the highest scoring offense in M-U football history.
Nerves had played a part in the Mustangs’ first possession, but their next drive also lasted three plays and netted just 3 yards. Again they had to punt, giving M-U the football at their own thirty. It took just 2:07 for the Dogs to score again. David Karns ran for 19, and London Cowan hit Trevor Klosterman on a perfect slant pattern for 18-yards to highlight the drive. Joe Thoele finished it with a 29-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked, but the Dogs led 13-0.
The Mustangs’ third possession also only lasted three plays, and this time they netted minus 12 yards. The punt died at the 46-yard line, and M-U was in business again. This drive featured Tyler Brown. Brown ended the evening with 215 yards rushing, and he began his onslaught during this drive with runs of 1, 27, and 6-yards, the final run resulting in his second touchdown of the game. The two point conversion failed, and it was all M-U 19-0.
Hard to imagine, but Westfall’s 4th possession of the 1st quarter was its worst. This drive lasted just two plays. After an incompletion, Williamson fumbled and the Bulldogs recovered at the Mustang 12-yard line. Brown covered the yardage in just two plays, and after the Fields’ PAT, it was 26-0.
The Bulldog kickoff team must have been tired because on the fifth M-U kickoff of the quarter, Westfall finally got the big play they had been waiting for. Luke Cline returned the kick all the way to the Bulldog 20-yard line. Williamson scored from 5-yards out and a frenzied first quarter finally ended at 26-7.
M-U added a touchdown midway through the quarter when David Karns swept 18-yards making the halftime score 33-7. Westfall’s only scoring threat came at the end of the half, but was denied by a Sam Niswonger interception. At the half M-U had 297 total yards, and the high-powered Mustang offense had been held to 68 total yards.
To their credit, the Westfall coaching staff tried everything they could to get their team back in the game. They started the second half started with an onside kick, recovered by the home team. Williamson began to find his rhythm a bit on the drive and completed two passes for thirty yards before finishing the drive himself from 5 yards out for a Westfall touchdown. 33-14.
The next kick was onside again and produced a mad scramble. This time the ball was recovered by the Bulldogs, and for all intents and purposes the game was over. M-U punished the onside kick decision with a 7-play drive (all runs) that culminated once again in the end zone on a Karns’ 4-yard run and Fields’ extra point, making the score 40-14.
The Mustangs were finished scoring for the evening, and each drive ended in a turnover or loss of downs. Two drives ended when Westfall was intercepted twice on back to back plays (a football rarity). Trevor Klosterman ended a drive with an interception, but he fumbled on the play giving the Mustangs the ball back with a new possession. The very next play Kenton Dickison intercepted ending two drives in two plays.
On its final series of the football game, M-U handed to Thoele on a run that was supposed to wind down the clock, but #81 had other ideas, sprinting 47-yards for the final score of the evening 46-14. The three senior running backs (Thoele, Brown, and Karns) had accounted for seven touchdowns.
With the win, M-U waits to see who and where they play Friday, November 9 in round two. Whoever it is better be ready for a dogfight.