SOMERSET – Both the Somerset Golden Eagles and Westmont Hilltop Hilltoppers were looking to get back in the win column on Friday evening when they met in a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference matchup. Thanks to their ground and point style, the Hilltoppers were able to sustain long, time-consuming drives while keeping the ball away from the Golden Eagles’ game breakers on their way to a 21-13 victory.
“There were times we had some scares but the line blocked hard and the backs blocked hard and you can’t say enough about how much of a team effort it was,” said Westmont coach Pat Barron after the victory.
Kicking the ball away to open the game, the Golden Eagles attempted to catch the Hilltoppers off guard with a surprise onside kick, but the away side was able to fall on the loose ball and set their offense up near midfield.
When the Hilltoppers’ offense is on the field, you know what they are going to throw at you and they are not shy about telling you.
Lining up with no men out wide and three running options behind quarterback Lee Santee, the Hilltoppers make it clear they are going to run right at you, and on Friday night they displayed just how successful their system can be.
After being stopped on their initial drive, the Hilltoppers’ offense took over near midfield for a second time after a dropped touchdown pass on fourth down by the Golden Eagles forced the ball over on downs.
Coming out in their ground-and- pound style, the Hilltoppers methodically moved the ball down the field and deep into Golden Eagles’ territory. On the 14th play of the drive, the Hilltoppers finally found the end zone from a yard out on a handoff to fullback Mason Muto. The extra point split the uprights to give the visiting side a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out on the Golden Eagles’ subsequent drive, the Hilltoppers offense was back on the field and back to their usual ways.
Big runs of 14 and 38 yards from Tucker Kushner put the Hilltoppers deep into enemy territory, and with just 10 seconds to spare before halftime, Muto capped off the drive with his second touchdown run from yard out.
Coming out of halftime the Golden Eagles needed points to get back in the game, and their offense delivered in a big way. Starting at their own 30-yard line, the Golden Eagles marched 70 yards in 10 plays and finished the drive with a one-yard run from Zane Blackburn to cut the Hilltoppers’ lead in half.
“We told our guys at halftime that we had to focus on our responsibilities and just do the little things and the big things take care of themselves,” said Somerset coach Bob Landis
Taking over on offense for the first time in the second half, the Hilltoppers squashed whatever momentum the Golden Eagles gained from their long touchdown drive with one of their own.
Covering 71 yards and milking over 11 minutes of game clock in the process, the Hilltoppers continued to unleash their ground game to restore their two-score lead. Camden Moors went off tackle for a 3 yard touchdown run and a 21-7 lead.
“I’m so proud of the unselfishness of our backs and our line tonight,” said Barron. “Those guys paved the way tonight.”
Less than two minutes later, the Golden Eagles answered right back to keep themselves within a score. Quarterback Camron Coddington hit a wide open Ryan Funa for a 33-yard touchdown pass to bring the home side back within 21-13 with more than eight minutes remaining.
Just as they had all night long, the Hilltoppers continued to pound the ball on the ground to finish off the game. A mixture of Muto, Kushner and Moors combined with a single pass attempt on a fourth down was more than enough to wind out the remaining time on the clock and seal with 21-13 victory for the visiting Hilltoppers.
Johnstown Tribune Democrat