By: Rick Vargason | Towanda Daily Review | September 22, 2007
The Towanda Black Knights and Canton Warriors went to battle Friday night in Towanda as the Knights hosted just their second home contest in their new digs, the Endless Mountains Sports Complex. The Warriors came out early on a warpath, but the Knights rose to the test as they went on to a 24-7 victory to remain undefeated on the year at 4-0.
Canton took the opening kick out to its 30-yard line and went to work. A Lucas Bailey 6-yard sweep coupled with a Tyrell Wheeler 14 yard blast pushed the ball out to midfield. Two more Bailey runs moved the pigskin to the Towanda 40-yard line as the speedy senior picked up 55 yards in the first half. However, a poor center-to-quarterback exchange pushed the Warriors back to the 48-yard line. It was one of three missed exchanges in the first half that helped aid the Knights' defense and eventually thwarted the drive.
On second-and-18, quarterback Reese Holmes dumped off a screen pass to Brock Parker that was snuffed out by senior Knight linebacker Adam Harris for a six yard loss. Bailey ran for an 11 yard gain on third down but Canton was forced to punt, pinning Towanda inside its 20-yard line.
On second down Knight quarterback Jake Lamphere was picked off by Warrior defensive back Korey Peterson at the Towanda 33-yard line, where the Warriors smelled blood. A holding penalty on the interception return started the Warrior drive at the Towanda 49-yard line. Bailey raced around the right side on first down for a 23 yard gain to the Knight 26-yard line.
Wheeler punished the Towanda defense for seven more yards to the 19-yard line, but another fumbled exchange from center Kris Foster to Holmes lost two yards, setting up third-and-five from the Towanda 21-yard line. This time the Black Knight defense caged up Bailey for a yard loss, but a 15 yard facemask penalty moved the ball to the Towanda 11-yard line with a first down. Following a procedure call against the Warriors, Holmes found Parker in the right flat and the latter was knocked out of bounds at the Knights' three-yard line. Following a Canton three yard loss, Holmes threw incomplete on fourth down.
"If we finish off those two drives it's a different game," stated a distraught Canton coach Miller Moyer Jr. "We had field position early and didn't do anything with it."
Towanda took over at its own six-yard line, where Harris took over as he ripped through Warrior defenders for gains of 10 and 20 yards to help move the ball out to the 47-yard line before the close of the first quarter. The 228-pound senior shredded the defense for 97 yards on 13 carries as the leading ground gainer on the night.
On the first play of the second quarter Lamphere threw a rope as he hit R.J. Baker in stride over the middle at the Canton 35, where Baker outraced Bailey to the right corner of the endzone for the game's first strike, covering 53 yards. Dakota Roof booted the extra point for the 7-0 lead with 11:45 left in the half.
Following a three-and-out by the Warriors, Towanda took over at the Canton 49-yard line. An 11 yard pass from Lamphere to Baker pushed it to the 36-yard line and on fourth-and-three from the 29-yard line, Harris pummeled over the left side of offensive linemen Billy Gardner and Matt Davidson for a 13 yard pickup to the Canton 16-yard line.
Two plays later Lamphere bootlegged left and screened back right to a wide-open Harris, who highstepped past the Warrior defenders for the 12 yard score. Roof kicked the point after and the Black Knights led 14-0 with 6:30 to go in the half.
After an exchange of punts Canton had possession at its own seven-yard line following a muffed punt return. Two runs by Wheeler set up third-and-11 at the six-yard line, where Holmes rolled right and threw an interception to Lamphere at the 23-yard line, who raced down the sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the Canton one-yard line. Cameron Sullivan danced over the right side for the score and following Roof's third point after Towanda led 21-0 with 36 seconds left in the half.
Neither team could mount any offense in the third quarter as both teams combined for five punts with neither team moving the sticks. Canton's initial possession of the second half started inside Towanda territory at the 45-yard line, but two sacks, one by Harris and the second on an Anthony Dinelli-Matt Davidson combo, battered the tall 200-pound Holmes and brought out the punting unit.
The fourth quarter was a flag-fest as the guys in black and white threw the yellow hankie 12 times as the game turned sloppy. With 10:40 to play, Towanda had possession at its 26-yard line when Parker stepped in front of a Lamphere pass at the 32-yard line and eluded two Knights on his way to paydirt to cut into the lead, at 21-7 following Marty Rockwell's point after with 8:47 to play. However, Towanda answered with a 40 yard drive, capped by Harris' 30 yard jaunt to the 20-yard line. Roof came on to boot a 30 yard field goal to finish the scoring of 24-7 with 5:02 to play.
"They're (Canton) a good team and I said that all week. Jamie (Coach Wecker) did a good job of making some adjustments early on. But they're going to win some games. I was overall pleased with how we played," Towanda coach Craig Dawsey said.
Lamphere finished 7-of-11 for 104 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Baker reeled in four catches for 81 yards and a score. Holmes finished 6-of-15 for 50 yards with two interceptions. Towanda totaled 263 yards of offense while the Knights' defense stiffened, yielding just 98 total yards. Towanda hosts Wellsboro next Friday while Canton plays North Penn at Troy at 7:00 p.m. Saturday.