Howard Hanna Professionals

Making A Buzz

By: Chris Masse  /  September 7, 2006  /  Photo: Craig S. McKibben, Jr

South WilliamsportSouth Williamsport fullback Patton Bartholomew was stopped, but he kept churning his legs. He carried four Wellsboro defenders on his back and gained an extra five yards.

The run did not result in a touchdown and ultimately, the drive stalled.

But Bartholomew's hard-nosed run sent a message.

South was not going to settle for another opening-night loss.

Jarred Caroway intercepted two passes, the South defense allowed just 140 yards and the Mounties held off a late Wellsboro comeback, winning their season-opener, 12-6 Friday at Rodney K. Morgans Stadium. It was the first time South won its season opener since 2000.

"The first game was big for us," Caroway said. "We knew that coming in and we had to win. No matter pretty or ugly we had to win."

Caroway sealed the victory when he intercepted Tim Shaw's second-down pass at the Wellsboro 40-yard line with 38 seconds remaining. It seemed a fitting end for a defense that, except for a brief fourth-quarter breakdown, controlled the line of scrimmage and continuously made big plays.

Twice in the first half, South stopped Wellsboro inside the 10-yard line. In the second half, the Mounties limited Wellsboro to 51 yards and forced two turnovers.

"We're definitely more aggressive than we have been in the past," South coach Chris Lusk said. "This is a game we had to win. To reach our goals we had to win this game. It wasn't pretty but we were able to do it."

South took a 12-0 lead on Mike Fessler's 20 yard touchdown run with 2:42 remaining, but Wellsboro made a spirited comeback. After Chester Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the South 32-yard line, Shaw needed just three plays, two passes and a one yard run, to give Wellsboro its first touchdown and cut the deficit in half.

The Green Hornets forced a three-and-out on South's ensuing series and gained possession with 57.2 seconds remaining and no timeouts. After an incompletion, South hurried Shaw, who threw up a pass that Caroway easily intercepted.

Shaw threw and ran for over 100 yards in last year's season-opening win over South. But other than one 29 yard scramble, the Mounties contained Shaw this time, holding him to 95 yards of total offense.

"We knew he would be running back and forth trying to get the ball downfield (on the last play) and we just played our base defense and just make the read on the quarterback," Caroway said. "The defense got in his face so the interception was easy."

Like South, Wellsboro returned several starters from last year's team. The Hornets showed signs of offensive promise when they marched inside the 10-yard line twice in the first half. The defense also showed its potential, keeping South out of the end zone on three straight second-half possessions after it crossed midfield.

"We have some things we have to work on and there's things we can improve upon," Wellsboro coach Chris Morral said. "We have a heck of a talented team. There's a lot of talent there and a lot of experience there. We've got to get better for down the road and we will."

Linebacker Sam Bellinger helped key Wellsboro's defense. The junior was making his first start, but seemed to be involved in every play and was crucial in helping Wellsboro have a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

"I saw a lot of good things out of our guys," Morral said. "We're going to be fine. We'll bounce back from it."

Caroway threw a second-quarter touchdown pass to Eric Smithgall who caught four passes. Fessler also played well in his first start, rushing for 125 yards on 27 carries.

Howard Hanna Professionals
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Team Stats Box Score
Score 6 12
1st Downs 9 16
Pass Yards 65 79
Rush Yards 62 193
Total Plays (Yards) 45 (127) 62 (272)
Punts (Avg. Yards) 4 (27.3) (0.0)
Penalties (Yards) 3 (11.5) 2 (20)
Turnovers 4 2