By: Al Robinson | Towanda Daily Review | October 16, 2010 | Photo courtesy Ed Boardman
TOWANDA - Friday night's Towanda Homecoming football game will not be remembered as one of the classics in the ancient rivalry between the Black Knights and the Athens Wildcats. Towanda was a heavy favorite, and they showed that stature was deserved by scoring two touchdowns in the first two minutes. Despite a highlight film performance in the first half by tailback Casey Shipposh, the Wildcats could never climb back into contention, and in the second half Towanda controlled Shipposh while wearing the Wildcats down on the chilly, drizzly, windy night.
Towanda received the opening kickoff and needed only thee plays to march 65 yards, highlighted by Mason Roof's 37 yard run. Cody Miller hooked up with Caleb Willey for the final 20 yards, Mason Roof kicked the extra point, and the Knights were on top with just a minute gone. Things got even better for the home team when Athens fumbled in the backfield on their first play from scrimmage and Towanda recovered. Miller wasted no time hitting Jordan Dawsey across the middle on first down for a 13-0 lead, which remained the score as the extra point kick was wide right.
Towanda held Athens three-and-out on their next two series, but the Knights' offense began to sputter as well. "I think we got a little bit flat. We thought the game was over," said coach Craig Dawsey after the game, adding "I told the kids all week Athens is well coached and they will come to play." Carrying repeatedly for big chunks of yardage on the outside, Shipposh led Athens back, scoring on a 24 yard sweep with 1:38 left in the opening quarter. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving the score 13-6.
Athens penetrated to the Towanda 34-yard line near the midway point of the second quarter, but Athens quarterback Nick Carl was sacked near midfield on fourth down to put the Knights in good field position. Miller rambled for 28 yards as part of the five play drive and flipped a shovel pass to Roof for the final six yards. Roof's kick stretched the Knight's margin to 20-6.
For the fourth time, Zach Ripic's booming kickoff sailed into the end zone, but Shipposh gained 18 yards on first down for Athens. Left with third and long, Carl threw an unwise pass that Miller picked off for Towanda, giving the Knights possession at the Athens 26-yard line. Quickly it was first and goal at the nine-yard line, but a block in the back moved them outside the 20-yard line. Miller then hit Willey in the end zone with Roof's kick making the halftime score 27-7.
Having seen his defense shredded by Shipposh for 119 yards, Coach Dawsey made adjustments at halftime that, for the most part, shut down the Athens speedster in the second half. "One of our linebackers wasn't flowing the way he was supposed to flow, but once we made the adjustment he did well," the coach related. Towanda was not out of the woods, however, as early in the third quarter Miller was picked off by the Wildcats' stellar linebacker, Justin Schlosser, who rumbled 61 yards to paydirt. Again the two-point attempt failed, but Athens was still alive at 27-12.
Athens also proved vulnerable to the interception when Miller stepped in front of a Carl aerial and returned it 22 yards for the backbreaking score with only 16 seconds left in the period. With Roof's conversion the margin was 34-12 and the Wildcats were on the ropes.
Towanda removed all doubt early in the final period, executing a 67 yard drive in five plays capped by Roof's 31 yard jaunt to the end zone with 8:10 remaining. Sophomore Austin Schoonover produced his own highlight with 3:18 remaining on the clock. He slashed into the end zone from 12 yards out, and then ran the same play for the final two points.