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Mifflinburg drops finale
Reprinted with permission

MIFFLINBURG — In many of the games the Wildcats played this fall 26 points would have been enough for a win.

But it wasn’t the case Friday, as the Mifflinburg defense had no answer for Shikellamy quarterback Garrett Pope and the Braves beat the Wildcats 55-26.

Mifflinburg ends its season 3-7, while playoff-bound Shikellamy is 6-4.



Shikellamy Braves lock up home game
By Matt Corbett 
Reprinted with permission

MIFFLINBURG -- On a chilly night, Shikellamy coach Sam Stroh received an ice-water bath near the end of Friday night's Heartland Athletic Conference Division I game against Mifflinburg.

Stroh didn't seem to mind, though. The dousing signified a big step forward for the Braves program: Shikellamy will host a playoff game next week.

Quarterback Garrett Pope accounted for 302 yards rushing and passing, and the Braves racked up a whopping 526 yards in total offense as they defeated Mifflinburg 55-26 in the regular-season finale at Wildcats Stadium on Friday night.

With the win, Shikellamy (6-4) qualified for the District 4 Class AAA playoffs for the first time since 2004, and reached six wins in a season for the first time since 2003. The Braves will host a D-4 AAA game next Friday against either East Juniata or Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech.

"This means an awful lot. This was a big goal for us to get qualified (for districts)," Stroh said. "We're trying to turn things around here. I'm not saying we're there yet, but this is a good start. We want to prove it's possible."

Pope set the tone on the second play from scrimmage, when he sprinted 68 yards around the left side to give Shikellamy a quick 7-0 lead. Pope had 122 rushing yards by halftime and finished with 169 yards on just 14 carries, including a 10-yard TD run in the third quarter that gave the Braves a 48-12 lead over Mifflinburg (3-7).

Pope also connected with wideout Tyler Pratt on touchdown passes of 23 and 53 yards and Tyson Bly on a 34-yard scoring toss as the Braves, who won their first four games, then lost four in a row, pulled away for their second big win to close the regular season.

"This is two weeks in a row that (Pope) has had a huge game for us," Stroh said. "He's starting to come into his own. He's playing very well right now."

For a while, it seemed like neither offense could be stopped. The Wildcats answered Shikellamy's first TD with their own when Anthony Wagner broke off a 47-yard touchdown run. Later in the first quarter, after the Braves went up 21-6 on TJ Hertzog's nine-yard scoring burst, Wagner hauled in a pass from Alex Vidunas and rambled the rest of the way for a 39-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 21-12 with 1:41 left in the quarter.

But Pope connected with Pratt for the 53-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter, and the Braves continued to amass yards and points after that.

"We're starting to put things together (on offense)," Stroh said. "When we're throwing the ball, teams can't put everybody in the box to stop the run. Our receivers are starting to come around, and our offensive line did a great job tonight."

Wagner, who later scored on a 35-yard run, accounted for three of Mifflinburg's four TDs on the night. But the Shikellamy defense -- which had not produced an interception through nine games -- picked off Mifflinburg quarterbacks three times Friday. Pratt collected two and Bly had the other as the turnovers set up the Braves' offense with good field position.

"(The interceptions) were a positive, but we have to tackle better," Stroh said. "We're giving up too many big plays. Give credit to Mifflinburg, but we have to get away from giving up so many big plays."

Wagner's big night included 97 yards on just eight carries and 49 yards on two catches. But Mifflinburg managed just three first downs after halftime as the Braves converted turnovers into time-consuming drives.

Moscarello comes up big in Dragons win over Wildcats

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LEWISBURG — Lewisburg coach Todd Tilford wasn’t sure exactly what to expect in Friday night’s Little Brown Jug game against Mifflinburg. Between injuries and illness he was missing several key players, including starting quarterback Jay Mathias.

What Tilford did have was an in-tact offensive line, and it turned out to be exactly what Lewisburg needed as it rolled to a 35-6 win over Mifflinburg on a rainy, raw night at Bucknell’s Christy Matthewson Stadium.

With the Heartland Athletic Conference crossover win the Green Dragons improve to 6-1. The Wildcats drop to 3-4.

“The way our offensive line came out, I couldn’t be any prouder,” said Tilford. “With all the injuries and illnesses, I was a little hesitant (about how the game would go).”

Sophomore running back Merle Moscarello was a big beneficiary of the offensive line’s efforts using 15 carries to run for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

“The offensive line — wow,” said Moscarello. “That’s all you can say — wow.

“When we ran inside they killed people.”

“The offensive line was all there and Merle kept getting better,” said Tilford. “We told our line to keep going.”

Moscarello got the Green Dragons on the board in Lewisburg’s second possession of the game when he ran five yards into the end zone. Two-and-a-half minutes later he broke free for a 26-yard TD run. His third score came at the beginning of the second quarter.

The Wildcats broke up the Green Dragons next possession when David Borisov intercepted a pass, but with less than four minutes left in the half Lewisburg got the ball again and drove 72 yards for another TD. Nate Brown had been blocking for Moscarello but at the end he got the call and drove the final four yards with 1:13 left to play in the half.

But Brown wasn’t finished. After the kickoff return Mifflinburg quarterback Alez Vidunas completed a pass only to have Brown strip the receiver on the 27-yard line and run the ball back for what would be Lewisburg’s final touchdown of the game.

It was the second time in as many games that Brown ripped the ball from his opponent’s hands after a catch.

“Nate had a rip like that last week,” said Tilford. “This time he put it away.”

Mifflinburg took away the Lewisburg shutout in the fourth quarter when Matt Brooks made a nice 13-yard TD run.

Sophomore Cam Cassels was poised in the quarterback spot for the Green Dragons, completing four of five passes for 46 yards.

“It’s always fun to play Mifflinburg,” he said.

Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler said that while it was hard to lose by such a wide margin, he still thought his team could rebound.

“We can get back on track. We have three more games and playoffs are still a possibility.”

Fueling Dressler’s optimism was the return of running back Anthony Wagner who saw some limited action Friday night and Dressler said should be 100 percent next week when the Wildcats play Danville. Matt Brouse is also making a recovery.

Dressler had nothing but kudos for the Green Dragons on Friday.

“They have a good team,” he said. “I wish them all the best.”

Tilford is hoping for just that when Lewisburg entertains Mount Carmel next Saturday at Milton.

“Hopefully we’ll get healthy and have a competitive game next week.”


Moscarello runs for three scores in rout
By Todd Stanford    

Reprinted with permission

LEWISBURG -- Just call him "Merle Hazard."

The Lewisburg sophomore running back's real name is Merle Moscarello. But trying to tackle him can be a hazard to defensive players' health -- and Friday night's game a Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium was a perfect example.

Moscarello powered, bulled, and stiff-armed his way to 144 rushing yards and three touchdowns -- all in the first half -- as Lewisburg crushed Mifflinburg 35-6 in a Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game.

"(Moscarello) just keeps getting better," Green Dragons coach Todd Tilford said. "He's really getting comfortable in the offense."

The Green Dragons (6-1), who have won three in a row after their only loss, keep the Little Brown Jug for the second year in a row.

"It always feels good to beat a rival," Moscarello said. "We're all really glad we did it today."

Moscarello scored on runs of 5, 26, and 5 yards. His backfield mate, Nate Brown, added a 5-yard scoring run in the second quarter and later had a defensive touchdown.

"You can't say enough about the (offensive) line," Moscarello said. "They were amazing today."

Lewisburg gained 266 yards on the ground on 51 rushes. By contrast, Mifflinburg (3-4) could never get its running game started. The Wildcats had just seven yards on the ground at halftime, by which time they trailed 35-0.

"They pursued well, they tackled well," Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler said. "They were quick and swarming. We knew that coming into the game."

The Wildcats' lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter. Mifflinburg's Matt Brooks blocked a punt by Moscarello and the Wildcats recovered at the Lewisburg 35. Five plays later, Brooks ran it in from 13 yards out.

That drive marked the first time that Mifflinburg got into Lewisburg territory. The Wildcats also committed four turnovers on the night.

"Our defense has been playing really well," Tilford said. "We were worried about them making the big play, and we got enough pressure to contain the big play. That was the key."

Lewisburg drove to the 1 on its first possession, but Mifflinburg held and took over on downs. The Green Dragons' offensive line then started opening chunks of daylight for Moscarello and the other backs, and the home team scored on four of its next five possessions.

"Coaches talked all week about how we have to go to the whistle," Dragons right guard Sean Charest said. "We just kept ... pushing harder until the whistle."

The oddest play of the night occurred late in the second quarter. Just three plays after he scored to make it 28-0, Brown -- playing at his linebacker spot -- ripped the ball from Mifflinburg tight end Shawn Schreck and raced back 26 yards for the score.

"He had a rip out last week too," Tilford said of Brown. "He put the nail in there."



Cardiac 'Cats win again

By Todd Hummel
Reprinted with permission

MIFFLINBURG -- Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler watched Jersey Shore's game-winning field goal attempt go wide left and furiously looked for his offense to send on the field to run out the clock.
But after a few seconds, the first-year coach realized time had actually run out and he could finally breathe a sigh of relief as his Wildcats survived a frantic final minute against winless Jersey Shore to hold on to a 20-19 Heartland Athletic Conference Division I victory.
"I think I need a doctor," Dressler joked after his team won its third consecutive game.
Mifflinburg saw Jersey Shore score a touchdown with 1:01 left in the game to pull within a point, but a poor snap on the extra point caused the ball not to even make the goal post, leaving the Wildcats lead intact. Jersey Shore then recovered the onside kick and drove to the Mifflinburg 11. The Bulldogs had the game-winning touchdown called back on a penalty with 10 seconds left in the game and then Jersey Shore kicker Caleb Barnhart just missed the game-winning 33-yard field goal to the left as time expired.
"Our guys just survive," Dressler said. "They keep fighting to the end of the game and we literally had to do that in this one."
The Wildcats (3-3 overall, 2-2 HAC-I) played their best offensive game of the season, spreading the ball around. Six different Mifflinburg players carried the ball and quarterbacks Alex Vidunas and Barry Tomasetti completed passes to four different receivers. Mifflinburg rolled up 406 yards of total offense, it's top output of 2009. Once again injuries bit the Wildcats though as Vidunas missed the second half when he was injured on Mifflinburg's final drive of the first half.
"Our focus the whole season has been getting better and that's really allowed the kids that have had to step in to play well. The kids have been awesome about just working hard to improve," Dressler said.
Mifflinburg got off to a bit of slow start on defense as Jersey Shore attacked the Wildcats by running quarterback Taylor English out of the pistol formation. English carried the ball six times for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as Jersey Shore took a 13-8 lead into the locker room.
The Wildcats moved the ball in the first half; Vidunas threw for 151 yards, including a 63-yard TD pass to David Borisov in the first quarter. But Mifflinburg also hurt itself with penalties, getting flagged five times in the opening half, including a chop block that took a touchdown off the board.
Mifflinburg took the lead on the first drive of the second half, going to the ground game to control the clock with a 10-play drive that took five minutes off the clock. Tomasetti hit Kaleb Snyder with 12-yard touchdown pass to give Mifflinburg a 14-13 lead after the two-point conversion attempt failed. Snyder caught seven passes for 90 yards in the game.
Meanwhile, Mifflinburg had solved the Jersey Shore offense for most of the second half, holding them without a point and to just three first downs.
The Wildcats added an insurance score when Shawn Hurst was wide open on a first-and-25 play for a 51-yard catch and run from Tomasetti and a 20-14 lead with 11:15 left in the game.
Mifflinburg stopped a Jersey Shore drive on downs at its 11 with seven minutes left in the game, but Mifflinburg was forced to punt.
The Bulldogs drove 58 yards in seven plays to pull within 20-19 on English's third touchdown run of the game with 1:01 left in the contest. English finished the game with 117 yards rushing.



High school football notebook: Wiand, Wildcats step up

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Not helping Mifflinburg in its grind-it-out win over Milton on Friday was the absence of senior running back/linebacker Anthony Wagner, who missed the game due to a dislocated shoulder he received in the previous week's game against Central Columbia.

With Wagner out of the lineup, Wildcats' coach Jason Dressler needed some of his younger players to step up against the Black Panthers. Enter Michael Wiand, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound freshman running back/linebacker for Mifflinburg. Wiand's one-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter gave Mifflinburg a 16-12 victory in the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I matchup. He finished with 49 yards rushing on 10 carries.

"You miss an athlete like (Wagner). Obviously your team feels it," said Dressler. "But we had several kids that came out and stepped up and did what they needed to do to get the job done."

In regards to Wiand, Dressler said, "We don't look at each other as (freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors), we are just looking for competitors and for guys to get on the field and get the job done. Mike is one of those guys."

A FOUL DRIVE: The late touchdown Mifflinburg scored against Milton to win their HAC-I matchup almost wasn't needed.

The Wildcats had a perfect opportunity to put six points on the board and take at least a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter after they were the beneficiaries of 60 yards worth of penalties the Black Panthers committed during the drive,

Milton was flagged for three unsportsmanlike penalties, one other personal foul and a procedure penalty that helped Mifflinburg move the ball from the 50 all the way to the Black Panthers' 4. But Milton made up for it as Cody Shaffer intercepted the next pass from Alex Vidunas in the end zone.



Mifflinburg rallies past Milton for 16-12 win - Wildcats have won two straight

By Chris Brady
Reprinted with permission

MIFFLINBURG — On a night when Mother Nature was the only real controlling force, Mifflinburg made the big plays when it needed to and rallied for the Heartland Athletic Conference-I win, 16-12, over Milton at a soggy Wildcats Stadium.

Credit the offensive line during a 70-yard, fourth-quarter, game-winning drive, a freshman running back and a host of Milton mental mistakes for the victory.

Mifflinburg improved to 2-3, 1-2 HAC-I. Milton falls to 1-4, 0-4 HAC-I.

“Coming in this week we knew we matched up well with Milton,” said Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler. “We told them it would be a fight to the finish. We did what we had to on defense and they fought to the very end. I’m so proud of this team.”

With a steady rain falling throughout, Mifflinburg jumped up early, taking advantage of a short field and what would be the first of many Milton penalties on the night as Travis Schreck ran in from 11 yards with 5:24 left in the first quarter. Shawn Hurst ran left to tack on another two points to give the Wildcats the early 8-0 lead.

With the rain continuing to fall, and coming down at a steadier clip, Milton began to use its size and power to chip away at the Wildcats’ defense. Bobby Turnbaugh and quarterback Colton Murray found their footing as Milton got on the board with a Murray scamper right from 10 yards out to trim the lead to 8-6. The two-point attempt failed.

With Mifflinburg knocking on the door, Milton came up with a big play as Cody Shaffer picked off Alez Vidunas at the goal line and setting the Panthers up on the Wildcat 20. From there, it was a steady dose of Turnbaugh and Murray as the Milton line worked its way upfield. Facing third-and-nine from the 30, Murray dropped back and found Shaffer for the touchdown with 2:52 left as the Panthers took a 12-8 lead. The two-point conversion failed again.

Milton was eating up chunks of yardage and continued the trend into the second half. The Panthers also continued the trend of flags. Milton was flagged 14 times for 131 yards in the game, including 3 unsportsmanlike penalties and three personal foul flags.

Mifflinburg didn’t fall victim to the flag, however the Wildcats had trouble hanging onto the football in the second half, putting it on the ground six times and turning it over three.

“They had so many opportunities to turn their heads, especially with all the fumbles, but they kept fighting,” said Dressler.

Schreck, who had been a spark in the first half, went out with an injury late in the third quarter and that’s when freshman Michael Wiand stepped in and stepped up.

Down with 9:10 to go and the ball on their own 30, the Mifflinburg offense got on track and made its push. Vidunas hooked up with Kaleb Snyder on a pair of pass plays, including a 16-yard completion on fourth-and-10 from the Milton 30 to keep the drive going.

Wiand, powered by his offensive front, churned for 29 yards on the drive, including the final yard for a touchdown on third-and-goal with 3:43 left.

“That was all line,” said Wiand. “That wasn’t me.

“It was slippery. It was horrible. You couldn’t plant.”

Even given the conditions, and the struggles offensively, Wiand said the Wildcats were confident.

“We fight to the bitter end,” he said. “We were confident.”

That confidence has been building and has now built itself into a two-game win streak with Jersey Shore coming to town next week for Mifflinburg’s homecoming.

“I’m so proud of this team,” said Dressler. “They work so hard.”

Murray finished with 121 yards on the ground for Milton. Turnbaugh had 66 yards on the ground. Milton outgained the Wildcats, 233-94, on the ground.

For Mifflinburg, Vidunas threw for 104 yards and Wiand finished with 45 yards on nine carries.

Both defenses had huge plays during the game. Milton’s defense snuffed out a fourth-and-one deep in its territory when Logan Spangler and Tyler Pardoe stopped Schreck.

Mifflinburg’s David Borisov had two big pass break-ups late as Milton was driving.



Wiand's late touchdown lifts Wildcats
By Brian Holtzapple

Reprinted with permission


Mifflinburg 16, Milton 12

MIFFLINBURG -- One week ago Mifflinburg scored a late touchdown to come back and edge Central Columbia by a single point.

In Friday's Heartland Athletic Conference Division I showdown with Milton, Mifflinburg once again found itself trailing late in a ball game and desperately needing a touchdown to go ahead. But could the Wildcats pull off some late-game magic two weeks in a row?

Michael Wiand made it a resounding yes as he scored on a one-yard touchdown run with less than 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to give Mifflinburg a much-needed 16-12 victory at Wildcats Stadium.

"It was absolutely a big win," said Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler. "Coming in this week we knew we matched up well with Milton. ... We just had to do some things, and being on a wet field obviously complicated matters. "We just hung in there and I told the guys that it would be a fight until the final buzzer once again, and it was," Dressler added.

Trailing 12-8 in the fourth, the game-winning drive for Mifflinburg (2-3, 1-2 HAC-I) began at its own 30, and after a 16-yard pass from Alex Vidunas to Kaleb Snyder, the Wildcats marched 69 yards in 10 plays before getting a first down at the 1.

With its back against the wall, the defense for Milton (1-4, 0-4) stood firm as the Black Panthers stuffed two quarterback sneak attempts by Vidunas. Then on 3rd-and-goal, Vidunas handed the ball off to Wiand, who had no problem charging into the end zone for the decisive score.

Moments later Vidunas' conversion run put Mifflinburg up 16-12 with 3:43 left.

"(The touchdown) was all (offensive line). It was not me at all," said Wiand. "It was a huge hole and I just carried the ball.

"We are going to fight until the bitter end. We were confident that we were still going to come out (in the second half) and slap them in the mouth," added Wiand.

"(Wiand) is a competitor," Dressler said. "Football is in his blood and he just comes out and gives it all he has. He's been doing it all year."

Despite the touchdown, Mifflinburg wasn't out of the woods yet as Milton got the ball back with plenty of time left on the clock.Beginning from its own 26, Milton put together an eight-play drive to get all the way down to the Mifflinburg 23.

The Black Panthers' drive stalled when quarterback Colton Murray slipped and fell on the water-logged turf for a seven-yard loss on 4th-and-6. "Our kids came out in the second half and scored that touchdown we needed to put us on top, and we did enough on defense to stop Milton and get the job done," said Dressler. "I just love to see the guys fight until the very end.

They don't give up whatsoever though they had plenty of opportunities to hang their heads, but they didn't."

The Wildcats took an 8-0 lead 6:36 into the first quarter on an 11-yard run by Travis Schreck and a conversion run by Shawn Hurst. Milton would score all 12 of its points in the second quarter after Murray scored on a 10-yard run before throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cody Shaffer. Both of Murray's conversion passes failed.

"A win like this makes me so proud of the team," Dressler said. "We have Jersey Shore coming up and this win will definitely provide a lift and give us confidence."