|08-19 | 10:00 am|
|08-25 | F|
|09-01 | F|
|09-07 | F|
|09-15 | F|
|09-22 | F/OT|
|09-29 | 7:00 pm|
|10-06 | 7:00 pm|
|10-13 | 7:00 pm|
|10-20 | 7:00 pm|
|10-27 | 7:00 pm|
By: Ed Weaver / August 26, 2023 / Photo: Dr. Robert Bair
Montoursville's Christian Banks scored three first half touchdowns en route to a 49-0 season opening shut out of Wellsboro on Friday, August 25.
Banks got things started for the Warriors on their second play of scrimmage, breaking multiple tackles as he scampered for 33 yards into Hornet territory. Eight plays later he plowed his way into the end zone to score the season's first touchdown with 6:38 remaining in the opening quarter.
"He's grown a lot, he was a freshman last year and played a lot of linebacker, he put in a ton of work over the off-season in the weight room," Montoursville head coach Joe Hanna said. "He has really good vision and he's quick and we're happy with what we've seen so far. He's just a sophomore so he's a work in progress but he's learning."
Banks must be a pretty quick study, because after the Hornets' opening drive stalled after just three plays, he went right back to work. Banks carried the ball twice on the Warriors' ensuing drive, one for 12 and the second for 11 that capped the drive for their second touchdown of the evening, pushing the lead to 14-0 over Wellsboro. Banks added his final score of the night with 4:29 left in the opening half on another one-yard scoring jaunt, followed by Wyatt Fry's third extra point, to increase the Warriors' lead to 21-0.
And that's where Bryce Eberhart picked up.
The Montoursville quarterback completed 9-of-13 passes on the night for 115 yards with two touchdowns. With 7 seconds left in the half Eberhart rolled out to his left to find James Mussina open for the score, further increasing the Warriors' lead to 28-0.
Eberhart's second touchdown came on their opening drive of the second half. Starting at the Wellsboro 43, runs by Banks moved the ball down inside the 40. Eberhart then found Evan Bloom on a 14-yard pass on 3rd and 6 down to the Wellsboro 25. Two more Banks runs, and a Wellsboro offside penalty, moved the ball down to the Wellsboro 5. From there Eberhart connected with Dylan Keyte, pushing the Warrior lead to 35-0 just over the midway point of the third quarter. But Eberhart wasn't done as he scored his next touchdown on the defensive side of the ball.
On 2nd and 13 from the Wellsboro 35, Eberhart picked off a Will Gastrock pass and returned it the opposite way untouched, making it 42-0 in favor of Montoursville.
Montoursville's final score happened as the third quarter came to a close. As the Hornets were forced to punt, Montoursville's Michael Reeder fielded the ball at his own 40-yard line, caught the edge near the Warriors' sideline, and out-raced the Hornet defense on his way to a 60-yard punt return touchdown.
Wellsboro had the ball the majority of the 4th quarter as they put together a 12-play drive, their longest of the evening. Starting at their own 29 the Hornets picked up four of their seven first downs of the game on the drive, and moved the ball inside Montoursville territory for the first time. However, back-to-back penalties got Wellsboro behind the sticks and they were forced to punt. Montoursville ran two plays to close out the game, dropping the Hornets to 0-1 to begin the 2023 season.
Wellsboro ran 37 plays for 93 yards, while the Warriors accumulated 258 yards on 42 plays. Wellsboro also was called for 8 penalties for 53 yards.
Gastrock led the Hornets with 61 yards through the air, completing 6-of-15 passes. He also rushed 11 times for 10 yards. Junior Ryder Bowen picked up 27 yards on 8 carries, and he and senior Hayes Campbell caught three passes each, Bowen had 16 yards receiving while Campbell was the leader with 45 yards. Bowen made 9 stops from his middle linebacker position to lead Wellsboro, while Gastrock added 6 tackles and Campbell and junior Jacob Dean made 5 tackles each.
"We're young. We started eight freshman and sophomores, four of them freshman, and they're getting their first taste of Varsity football against a 3A school with 50 kids," head coach Matt Hildebrand said. "It's to be expected, we're going to get better as we progress through the season. The score isn't what we wanted but I'm proud of these kids. They refused to quit and continued to fight the entire game. We're putting these kids in a real tough position, we're asking them to do things that most schools don't ask of their freshmen. I'm proud of them, we just need to have a short memory, get back to practice and get ready for next week."
Next week Wellsboro travels to Muncy.