Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

The 20-for-30, 219-yard passing performance of Lewistown quarterback Nathan Heider last night against Tyrone is just a little misleading.
While the senior slinger put up respectable numbers and even threw for a pair of touchdowns, he spent most of the night in two positions: running for his life and on his back.
Heider was sacked six times, including five by senior defensive end Max Soellner for a total of 54 yards in losses, and the Golden Eagles’ hard hitting defense continued to dominate as Tyrone defeated the Panthers for the 10th consecutive season 34-12 at Mitchell Field.
Soellner was the standout among a defensive group that thoroughly stifled Lewistown’s no-huddle spread offense for the better part of three quarters. Along with the bruising he put on Heider, he also had a fumble recovery that led to an Eagle touchdown and returned a blocked punt 10 yards for a score that put Tyrone up 14-0 in the first quarter.
“Our defense is tough, there’s no doubt about it,” said Tyrone coach John Franco, whose team improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big 8 Conference. “Our defensive ends played great, our linebackers played great. I thought our whole defense played well.”
The one problem, as Franco saw it, was that his defense played just well enough to win once the fourth quarter rolled around, with the Eagles leading 34-6. With the game safely tucked away, Tyrone allowed 103 yards passing, seven plays of eight yards or more and one touchdown.
“The guys that rotate in and the backups really disappointed me,” said Franco. “They went out there and just played like they were going through the motions. That really ticked me off because we had guys in there that are good enough to do better. We’ve got to realize that we can’t let up.”
Junior Brice Mertiff posted his third consecutive 100-yard game, carrying the ball 13 times for 126 yards and one score. Classmate Ben Gummo added three touchdowns and 83 yards on eight carries as the Eagles posted their second-best rushing performance of the season with 233 yards on 54 carries.
In stark contrast to last week’s three-point loss in overtime to Huntingdon, Tyrone also kept a hold of the football, giving up no turnovers while forcing one to finish on the plus-side of the turnover ledger for the second time in three games.
“We’re 2-1. How many turnovers did we have in the two wins and how many did we have in the loss,” said Franco, whose team was minus-three in turnover ratio last week. “That’s one of the biggest keys to the game of football.”
Sophomore Leonard Wilson received his first starting nod of the season, after splitting time with junior Brandon Maceno, who started weeks 1 and 2. Wilson took all of the snaps from center until being pulled late in the fourth quarter and completed four of eleven passes for 27 yards.
“Leonard was excellent tonight,” said Franco. “He put the ball on the money so many times but our receivers have to catch it better. Our receivers get lazy sometimes because we can run the ball so well. They’ve got to pick up their game.”
Tyrone received the opening kickoff and used nine plays to go 61yards in four minutes for a 7-0 lead. Gummo sparked the drive with a 20-yard run to the Lewistown 23 off an option pitch from Wilson and Mertiff went in from the three four plays later.
The teams exchanged punts and fought the battle of field position until late in the fourth quarter when Mertiff, in punt position with his team backed to its own 25, boomed a 53-yard punt to back the Panthers to their 17-yard line. Lewistown moved as far as the 25 in three plays and was forced to punt.
Tyrone junior Tad Chamberlain broke through the left side of the Panther line and laid out perfectly to block the punt attempt of Jeremy Hamler. The ball rolled back to the 10, where it was scooped up by Soellner, who took it to the endzone.
“We got in a hole pretty quick,” said second-year Lewistown coach Rob Reeder. “They had a huge punt and then blocked our punt. But we never packed it in.”
Tyrone went ahead 20-0 with 9:19 left in the first half with a three-play, 71-yard drive that used up less than a minute. Mertiff broke free for 21 yards on second down to move the ball to the L-45, and on the next play Gummo broke loose off tackle and outraced the defense for a 45-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career.
Lewistown turned the ball over on the ensuing possession when the snap from center in shotgun formation went sailing over Heider’s head. After a mad scramble, Soellner came up with the ball to put Tyrone in business at the Lewistown nine.
Mertiff ran for eight yards to the one on second down and Gummo took it in from there to put the Eagles ahead 27-0.
The Panthers punched in one score before the end of the half on a five-play, 53-yard march that took only 32 seconds. Heider passed twice to 6-4, 230-pound tight end Joseph Stewart on the drive, once for a 23-yard gain to the T-11, and then for an 11-yard touchdown reception with three seconds left in the half, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 27-6.
Tyrone scored on its opening series of the second half on a 1-yard run by Gummo that capped a five-play, 51-yard drive and gave Tyrone a 34-6 lead. Mertiff carried the ball three times for 47 yards, including a 34-yard run that put the ball on Lewistown’s 3-yard line.
Lewistown’s final score came on a five-play, 89-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended when Stewart caught his second touchdown reception of the night on an 11-yard pass over the middle. Jared Dyer, who finished the game with nine catches for 116 yards, had two receptions for 44 yards.
“If you live in Philadelphia and read the score of this game in the paper tomorrow, you’re not going to understand how this game went,” said Reeder, whose team fell to 0-3 overall and in the Big 8. “This is a positive step for us. We’re doing this with a lot of young guys.”
GRID TIDBITS: Gummo’s three touchdowns tied a career high set lastseason … Justin Clark added one sack and one tackle for a loss … the Tyrone offensive line allowed just one sack … Mertiff averaged 42.5 yards on six punts.
Tyrone 34, Lewistown 12
Score by quarter
Tyrone – 14 13 7 0 – 34
Lewistown – 0 6 0 6 – 12
First Quarter
T – Mertiff 3 run, Gummo PAT. 8:00
T – Soellner 10 punt block return. Gummo PAT. :44
Second Quarter
T – Gummo 45 run, PAT failed. 9:19
T – Gummo 1 run. Gummo PAT. 7:03
L – Stewart 12 pass from Heider. PAT failed. :03
Third Quarter
T – Gummo 1 run. Gummo PAT. 7:52
Fourth Quarter
L – Stewart 11 pass from Heider. PAT failed. 9:24
Team Statistics
First Downs 11 17
Rushes 26 25
Rush yards 233 51
Passing att. 4-11 20-30
Pass yards 27 219
Fumbles/rec 0/0 1/1
Penalties 6-45 2-20
Punts 6-42.5 7-33
Total Yards 260 270
Individual Statistics
Tyrone Mertiff 13-126 1 TD, Gummo 8-83 3 TD, Christine 5-16, Bonsell 1-13, Mingle 1-5, Wilson 1-(-6).
Lewistown Narehood 9-42, Tressler 11-21, Heider 12-(-12).
Tyrone Wilson 4-11 27 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int.
Lewistown Heider 20-30 219 yards 2 TD, 0 Int.
Tyrone Mertiff 2-12, Mingle 1-9, Crabtree 1-6.
Lewistown Dyer 9-116, Stewart 6-64, Haines 1-34, Laughlin 3-4, Hardin 1-1.

By Rick