SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — Over the years, Mount Carmel has developed a reputation as a ground-and-pound team that puts together long, methodical drives and uses its array of running backs to wear down an opposing defense.
The run game is still the Red Tornadoes’ bread and butter, but lately Mount Carmel has not only developed a potent passing threat, but has been striking quickly. The Red Tornadoes did that once again Friday at South Williamsport and their defense turned in another strong performance to beat the Mounties 55-13.
“We definitely have some skilled players and some speed at those positions on offense and our passing game is really coming along,” said Mount Carmel coach John Darrah. “It doesn’t happen all the time, but we’ll take it when it does.”
A week after scoring four touchdowns on its first nine offensive plays in a shutout over Hughesville, Mount Carmel had three single-play drives that ended in touchdowns as well as a two-play drive and a pair of four-play drives, all of which ended in the end zone. Tom Reisinger threw for 100 yards and three touchdowns on just four completions in five attempts, while John Ayres ran for 157 yards on six carries.
The Red Tornadoes also continued their recent stretch of defensive dominance, holding South Williamsport to just 84 first-half yards and a total of 156 for the game.
“We’ve got some veterans out there on defense and they really understand the scheme and what’s going on and we keep having good practices that get better each week,” said Darrah. “We’ve played South three straight years now so our guys were familiar with them and not only do we have veterans, but guys are playing their responsibilities.”
The Red Tornadoes put up 480 yards overall, including 338 in the first half as they took a 42-7 halftime lead, which enabled the clock to run for the entire second half due to the mercy rule. They were able to do so despite committing nine penalties for 105 yards in the first half.
Mount Carmel scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns on the first of Reisinger’s three touchdown passes. The first TD was a 29-yard pass to Noah Berkoski, which was followed by a Shane Weidner 42-yard run on the second play of Mount Carmel’s next drive. It remained a close game early in the second quarter after South found the end zone with 10:38 remaining in the second when Austin Nash hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Flick to make it a one-score game, 14-7.
That was as close as the Mounties would get, however, as Mount Carmel answered almost immediately despite starting from their own 17 on its ensuing possession. The offense needed just four plays to score on a 34-yard pass to Jack Chapman from Reisinger. Ayres also ripped off a 44-yard run on the drive that would have been longer, if not called back due to a penalty.
Mount Carmel then made it 28-7 on South’s next possession when Weidner returned an interception 62 yards for a score with 6:49 left. The Red Tornadoes then proceeded to score two more touchdowns on as many touches on their next two drives, first on an 80-yard touchdown run by Ayres and then on a 34-yard screen pass to Avery Demko in which he caught the pass only about 3 yards in front of the line of scrimmage and then weaved in and out of traffic on route to the end zone.
“I thought coming into the game that Mount Carmel probably had the best defense that we’ve seen,” said South coach Chris Eiswerth. “They run the 4-3 very well and are very physical and we knew it was going to be tough to do a lot of good things against them. I was hoping we could make a few plays here and there, and early on we did move the ball and scored, but then we gave up some big plays.”
Tyler Owens added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second half for the Red Tornadoes to cap the Mount Carmel scoring.
About the only thing that went wrong for the Red Tornadoes were penalties, as Mount Carmel committed 10 for 115 yards.
Darrah commented, “Our guys are really aggressive and sometimes that happens, but there were way too many tonight. So, we’ll have to address that and use our heads a bit more.”