NTL FOOTBALL: CANTON TAKES ADVANTAGE OF TOWANDA TURNOVERS IN WIN
(2022-09-16)BY CHRIS MANNINGNorthern Tier Sports Report
TOWANDA — Very early on Towanda was giving Canton some trouble but about halfway through the first quarter Brenen Taylor made something happen. The veteran linebacker scooped up a fumble, and returned it to the house for the first of nine Warrior touchdowns on the day en route to their 63-0 win over the Black Knights in NTL football action Friday.
“He’s a kid that plays with high energy, and great effort,” Canton coach Tyler Sechrist said. “I’m glad to see him get the touchdown.”
Taylor had two defensive touchdowns on the day, returning an interception for the final score of the first half that saw Canton go up 49-0.
“It’s not all on me, our line’s putting pressure on the quarterback and our (defensive backs) are covering well,” explained Taylor. “I do the job that coach Bellows tells me to, and I end up in the right spot.”
It’s the second fumble recovery for a touchdown in as many weeks for Taylor, but the pick is a new one for him this season.
“It’s like of last year at Hanover,” he said. “The ball came straight to me, and I just saw green. I saw Riley had a good block on my left, and Hayden a good block on my right, and it was nothing but end zone.”
The Warriors saw a lot of the end zone, taking advantage of two early Towanda fumbles to go up 14-0 late in the first half to help them shake off some early game jitters.
“Sometimes the beginning of games are weird,” Sechrist said. “It just takes a little time to get your feet under you, to get the nerves out, and those defensive touchdowns were huge.”
Their ground game was strong once again, as they rushed for 249 yards on 34 carries, led by Riley Parker’s 131-yard effort, and two scores, on eight touches - all in the first half.
Ben Fitch was second on the team with seven carries for 74 yards and two scores, while Hayden Ward and Bailey Ferguson each had rushing touchdowns.
It was through the air, though, that Canton made good progress, not recording an incompletion as their four quarterbacks went a combined 7-for-7 for 82 yards, and a touchdown. Austin Allen led the way, going 4-for-4 for 59 yards and a score.
“Special teams, defense, offense, everything rolled really nice tonight,” said Sechrist. “So just that getting started, and sometimes it’s hard to start early.”
Towanda did have a strong start, showing up for their homecoming crowd. They forced Canton to punt on their opening possession, then was driving themselves when the ball slipped out of Flynn’s hand as he went to throw, and got picked up by Taylor.
The Knight fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Canton scored again, and it went downhill for Towanda from there. All in all, Towanda had six turnovers on the day, and Canton scored off four of them.
Riley Vanderpool led the Knights on the ground with 44 yards on 15 carries, while Flynn was 2-for-11 for 23-yards and two interceptions. Will Shrawder led them in receiving with a 27-yard catch.
On the opening drive Canton went 34-yards on their first two plays to get to midfield, but got off schedule on a Towanda sack. The Knights would eventually forced a punt, taking over at their own 10-yard line.
It appeared they would have a 3-and-out, but a running into the kicker call gave them new life. After a 15-yard run from Vanderpool on the fifth play of the drive, Flynn was trying to escape some Canton pressure, and tried to throw under duress when the ball slipped backwards. Taylor scooped it up and went 25-yards to pay dirt for the first score of the game.
Ferguson added the point after and it was 7-0 at the 6:09 mark of the opening quarter.
Then, in the ensuing kickoff, Towanda’s Andrew Barker lost the ball as he found a seem up the middle. Canton jumped on it, and were in business at the Towanda 29-yard line.
They would need just six plays to get into the end zone, ending with a 13-yard run from Parker down the right side of the field. Ferguson’s kick was good, and it was 14-0 with 3:31 on the clock.
After a 4-and-out from Towanda, Bellows returned the punt to the Knight 5-yard line. Hayden Ward then finished off the drive on the first play, punching it in from 5-yards out. Ferguson nailed the PAT, and it was 21-0 with 1:57 left in the opening quarter.
Towanda would punt again, with Canton taking over at their own 47-yard line. It took them six more plays to go 53-yards to pay dirt, the key play being a 31-yard hook up of Allen to Bellows to get them down to the Knight 11-yard line. Two plays later Allen found Hayden Ward for an 8-yard touchdown catch. Ferguson added the PAT, and it was 28-0 with 9:33 left in the half.
The Warriors forced another Towanda punt, and on the first play from scrimmage, Parker took a Ferguson pitch, and went 68-yards to the end zone. Ferguson hit the point after, and the Warriors led 35-0 with 7:48 on the clock.
The Knights would get a first down on their next drive, but a Vanderpool fumble was fallen on by Canton, giving them prime position at midfield. It would take the Warriors three plays to go 48-yards, with a 22-yard Parker run setting up a Ferguson 5-yard scoring rush. He added the PAT and it was 42-0 with 5:19 left in the half.
The final touchdown of the second quarter came with 4:25 on the clock as Taylor stepped in front of a Flynn pass, and returned it 45-yards to the end zone. Ferguson’s kick was good, and it was 49-0 with 4:25 on the clock.
Towanda did get some offense going on their ensuing drive. Barker returned the ensuing kickoff to the Warrior 34-yard line, with Flynn hitting Mitchell Mosier for a 14-yard gain on fourth down to get to the 20, and a new set of downs. However, back to back sacks by Hayden Ward on third and fourth down ended the Knight threat.
There was no scoring in the third quarter as the team’s traded possessions, but early in the fourth Averey Dibble ended a Towanda drive with a pick. That led to a 73-yard, 6-play scoring drive ending with a 4-yard touchdown run from Fitch. Fitch ran in the 2-point conversion, and it was 57-0 with 7:49 on the clock.
The final score came on the final play from scrimmage, as Fitch scampered 60-yards to pay dirt with 19.6 seconds left. The 2-point conversion was no good, but that made it a 63-0 final.
Both teams have tough tests next week, as Towanda hosts Wellsboro for their Armed Forces Appreciation Game, while Canto will welcome South Williamsport for their annual 1 p.m. Saturday contest.
“We’ll just use that extra day,” said Sechrist. “We spend a lot of time in the classroom watching film, and game plan. That’s probably what we’ll do Monday - ice guys up, and that extra day will give us an extra day of practice on Friday.”
And don’t expect Canton let up, no matter how many wins they get. As far as they’re concerned, their state semifinal loss was just last week.
“We gave up 28 points that game, that was the most our defense let up,” said Taylor. “We thought, we’re not letting it happen again. We’re coming back, and we’re going to get in the state championship.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Canton’s Brenen Taylor scoops up a fumble on his touchdown return…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING
Canton 63, Towanda 0
Canton 21 28 0 14 - 63
Towanda 0 0 0 0 - 0
C - Brenen Taylor 25-yard fumble return (Bailey Ferguson kick), 6:09
C - Riley Parker 13-yard run (Ferguson kick), 3:31
C - Hayden Ward 5-yard run (Ferguson kick), 1:57
C - Austin Allen 8-yard pass to Hayden Ward (Ferguson kick), 9:33
C - Riley Parker 68-yard run (Ferguson kick), 7:48
C - Bailey Ferguson 5-yard run (Ferguson kick), 5:19
C - Brenen Taylor 45-yard interception return (Ferguson kick), 4:25
C - Ben Fitch 4-yard run (Fitch run), 7:49
C - Ben Fitch 60-yard run (2-pt no good), :19.6
Austin Allen 4-4-59-1-0, Bailey Ferguson 1-1-16-0-0, Holden Ward 1-1-2-0-0, Ben Fitch 1-1-5-0-0
Riley Parker 8-131-2, Ben Fitch 7-74-2, Weston Bellows 4-13, Michael Davis 5-21, Hayden Ward 1-5-1, Bailey Ferguson 2-4-1, Austin Allen 1-(-6), Hudson Ward 1-1, Aydin Holcomb 1-4, Ryland Sakers 1-0
Weston Bellows 1-31, Austin Allen 1-16, Hudson Ward 2-21, Hayden Ward 2-8-1, Aydin Holcomb 1-5
Grady Flynn 2-11-23-0-2, Rylee Sluyter 1-5-27-0-1
Riley Vanderpool 15-44, Grady Flynn 10-(-6), Quintin Woodburn 2-(-4), Jace Gunther 2-(-7), Rylee Sluyter 3-14, Anthony Rifenbark 2-0
Will Shrawder 1-27, Mitchell Mosier 1-14, Riley Vanderpool 1-9
Rushes/Yards 34/249 34/41
Passing Yards 82 50
First Downs 11 7
Penalties/Yards 7/55 6/40
Interceptions: Canton - Brenen Taylor, Holden Ward, Averey Dibble
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