By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Down on their own 30, Montoursville’s Aaron Cole took the snap and handed it off to running back Clay Stoner. Then, in the blink of an eye, the season all but ended.
Mount Carmel senior nose guard Vinny Candelora found himself in the backfield, ripped the ball right out of Stoner’s hands and kept on running 27 yards with open grass in front of him into the end zone.
The score dealt a huge blow to Montoursville, putting the Warriors in a 21-point hole, as the Red Tornadoes moved on to the District 4 Class AA championship with a 48-20 win over Montoursville on Friday night in the semifinals at Memorial Stadium.
“They’re a good football team, don’t get me wrong, but we beat us tonight,” Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. “We were the better team. (If) we don’t make mistakes, we win. We made the mistakes. They didn’t (and) we lose. Bottom line.”
Those mistakes were five turnovers — four fumbles — that allowed Mount Carmel’s offense to take advantage.
“When you’re in the playoffs, you don’t turn the ball over. If you keep care of the ball, you’re going to win,” Mount Carmel coach Carmen DeFrancesco said. “Turning the ball over, it’s a recipe for disaster. Our kids came here on a mission. We were ashamed of our performance up here (in a regular season loss) and rightfully so and it was great to see our kids respond this way.”
Mount Carmel rushed for more than 300 yards in the win and Lucas Klingerman led the way on the ground. The senior back ran for a team-high 283 yards on 26 carries and two scores — on the heels of a record-setting performance there last month — including ending his night with a 53-yard TD run.
The Red Tornadoes offensive line and tight end Eric Joraskie continually kept Montoursville’s defensive line from making huge stops.
“Klingerman’s an incredible back and it’s great to have somebody like that behind our offensive line,” Joraskie said. “We have a big, strong offensive line and this week and last week, they just took over the game and absolutely dominated and we kept pounding the rock and it’s working for us.”
Montoursville took an early 13-0 lead against Mount Carmel, before the Red Tornadoes scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the lead.
From there, Mount Carmel stayed in control, never relinquishing the lead. The Red Tornadoes allowed just one Montoursville touchdown in the second half.
Despite the four touchdown margin of defeat, the Warriors moved the ball on the ground against Mount Carmel, including Clay Stoner leading the way for 115 rushing yards and a touchdown while Matt Krezmer ran for 59 and a score.
For the Red Tornadoes, the key came down to attempting to slow down Stoner, which they did. After rushing for 95 yards on 12 carries in the first half, Stoner was limited to just 20 yards on 10 carries in the second.
“We went into halftime to make some adjustments and we told our backers just key on (Stoner). They’re going to give him the ball, he’s a great back. He’s like a firecracker,” DeFrancesco said.
Zack Wasilewski’s arm helped Mount Carmel move the ball as well. The junior threw for two touchdowns, including a nice pass right over Stoner’s head to Tyler Kwiatkowski near the back of the end zone to give Mount Carmel its’ 20-13 lead with just 24 seconds to go in the second quarter.
Wasilewski also threw a 28-yarder to Joraskie and the 6-foot-4 tight end also ran in a one-yarder for the Red Tornadoes first score of the night.