By: Chris Masse | Williamsport Sun-Gazette | November 10, 2008
Forgive Cody Haupt if he ran like an angry running back Saturday night. But if you were a standout player who was robbed of a sophomore season due to a back injury and had to watch Montoursville reach the playoffs from the sidelines you might be mad as well.
Haupt released that rage on Towanda Saturday night, rushing for a career-high 260 yards on just 12 carries, returning an interception for a touchdown and scoring six touchdowns total while helping Montoursville steamroll its way to a 56-26 District 4 Class AA quarterfinal win at Memorial Stadium. The No. 3 Warriors (9-2) won a district game for a fourth straight year and meet No. 2 Athens in Friday's semifinals.
"It was tough, I really wanted to play last year and got the news in the preseason and I came back this year and worked hard in the off-season and in the summer," said Haupt, who scored three touchdowns on runs of more than 70 yards and another on a 53 yarder. "I was excited. Our line opened up big holes and I couldn't ask for anything more. There was a lot of room to run and it was fun."
As great as he was, Saturday's game was much more than the Cody Haupt show.
Linemen Nick Dawson, Cody Bitner, Josh Albert, Tony Cascio, Blake Berresford and Jason Marshalek opened up gaping holes against a defense stacked to stop the run. The Black Knights (7-4) were crammed so close to the line that once Haupt had a lane to run through, which was often, he was gone and went the rest of the way untouched.
"The line is getting him through and there's nobody left," Montoursville coach Jim Bergen said. "They're going to shut you down and then bang, you're hopefully going to be able to pop one through."
While Haupt stole the show with his runs, it was Montoursville's passing game that triggered the ambush. Jason Cristini took a bubble screen from Travis Singer 65 yards for a touchdown on the game's second play and the rout was on. Cristini finished with three catches for 94 yards and also set up another touchdown with a 46 yard punt return.
"The coaches saw we had an opening for that play and I had a good block from Aaron Russell and I just ran down the field. That was awesome," Cristini said. "We're hoping to take that momentum into next week."
Singer was making his first playoff start but played like a veteran, completing his first six passes while throwing for 138 yards. The sophomore was 3 for 3 for 98 yards seven minutes into the game and helped set up 14 more first quarter points with first-down passes to Cristini and Marshalek as Montoursville opened up a 21-0 first quarter lead.
Four of Singer's first five completions came on scoring drives. A 28 yard pass to Marshalek early in the third quarter set up Josh Cillo for a six yard touchdown and Montoursville extended its lead to 35-6 after Towanda had pulled within 15 at halftime.
"We had some good play calls that the guys upstairs really opened up what we're trying to do on offense," Singer said. "They had to drop a couple safeties or so sometimes to stop the passing game so they couldn't get as many guys in the box as they wanted to stop our running game and that definitely helped out."
Montoursville has scored 91 points in its last two playoff games against Towanda and Haupt showed the defense could create some offense as well. Just three plays after Cillo scored, Haupt returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown that brought the mercy rule into effect and capped a 21-point flurry in just 4:21.
Haupt initially tipped the ball, but running back Travis Chesla nearly caught it before Cillo jarred it away with a solid hit. Haupt then caught the deflection and ran down the left sideline for his fourth touchdown.
Haupt also led the team in tackles with eight and added a pass breakup while Marshalek and linebacker Zach Kreamer combined for 12 tackles. Montoursville will be meeting Athens for the third time in five seasons and the teams have split the previous two contests.