By: Rich Rogers | Towanda Daily Review | November 19, 2011
TOWANDA - After winning 35-20 in last week's first round playoff game, the Black Knights found themselves on the losing end of the same score last night as their season came to an end at the hands of the Bloomsburg Panthers, 35-20.
The Panthers do-it-all star quarterback Blake Rankin accounted for all five of his team's scores. To show just how dominating his performance was, the Panthers ran 48 offensive plays on the night; 44 of those plays were either Rankin runs or Rankin passes.
Bloomsburg received the opening kickoff and went right to work. Rankin set the tone early, going 25 yards over the right side on the first play of the game. From there, mixing runs and short passes Bloomsburg moved to the Towanda 1 where on 4th and goal, Rankin raced around the right corner on a naked bootleg for the score. Adam Naessig added the extra point, and Bloomsburg led 7-0 at 6:05.
The Black Knights would answer right back, marching 65 yards in eight plays to the Bloomsburg 15 yard line where Mason Roof would carry over the left side for the score. But an illegal procedure penalty brought the ball back and a 4th and eight incomplete pass ended the threat.
Towanda's next scoring opportunity came on its following possession. A huge 48-yard completion from Trey Sites to Zack Ripic set them up deep in Bloomsburg territory. But the drive would stall and Ripic's 47-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Towanda would finally get on the board on their next series, driving 53 yards in five plays. The key play being a 40-yard scamper by Sites for the score. Mason Roof added the extra point, and at 7:28, the score was tied 7-7.
John Klingerman would excite the Bloomsburg crowd by taking the ensuing kickoff 80 yards. But a block in the back penalty would bring it back and the teams would going into halftime tied at 7-7.
The teams traded punts for most of the third quarter before the Panthers drove to the Towanda 18, where on 4th down Rankin found Tanner Thrush wide open over the middle for the score. Naessig's kick was good, and with :38 seconds left in the third, Bloomsburg led 14-7.
Following a three-and -out, the Panthers would strike again, this time on a long pass from Rankin to Klingerman. On the play, a Towanda cornerback slipped, leaving Klingerman wide open down the right sideline, as he raced in untouched for the score. The extra point attempt was blocked, and Bloomsburg led 20-7.
Forced to play catch-up, Sites was immediately intercepted at his own 31 yard line. Following a five-yard penalty, Rankin would weave his way through the Towanda defense for a 33-yard run to the three. The Black Knight D-line would stiffen for three straight stops, but on 4th and one, Rankin's Q.B. sneak up the middle was successful and Bloomsburg extended its lead to 28-7 following the two point conversion.
Towanda roared right back, traveling 66 yards in seven plays. Zack Ripic took a hand off over the right side from 13 yards out, and Roof's PAT cut the lead to 28-14 with 4:21 left.
However, a failed onside kick attempt left the Panthers with a short field, and Rankin would capitalize once more, this time with a 28 yard catch and run to Klingerman. Naessing's final try of the night was good, and the lead was extended to 35-14.
Jordan Dawsey would give the Towanda faithful one final chance to cheer, as he took the ensuing kickoff and raced 85 yards for the score. Roof's last kick was wide right, and the final margin was set 35-20.
Rankin led all rushers on the night with 163 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns, while he completed 13 passes for 183 yards and three scores.
Trey Sites rushed eight times for 80 yards and a score, while Mason Roof added 33 yards on eight carries. Sites was also 13-27 passing for 154 yards with one interception.
Towanda finishes a fine season with 10 wins and two losses, while Bloomsburg advances to next week's District IV AA final at Mount Carmel.