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Middletown rolls over Bermudian Springs, will play in district title game Thursday vs. Wyomissing

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 11/13/17

Chasing a school rushing record on Friday night at chilly War Memorial Field, senior running back Brady Fox came up about 50 yards short when an ankle injury ended his night late in the third …

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Middletown rolls over Bermudian Springs, will play in district title game Thursday vs. Wyomissing

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Chasing a school rushing record on Friday night at chilly War Memorial Field, senior running back Brady Fox came up about 50 yards short when an ankle injury ended his night late in the third quarter. 

That was the not-so-good news. 

The good news is that Fox scored two touchdowns prior to his injury and his Blue Raider teammates erupted for four second-half scores, finishing off their first-round District III 3A playoff contest with a 42-7 victory over the Bermudian Springs Eagles. 

The Raiders will play Wyomissing (10-1) on Thursday at Hersheypark Stadium for the district championship. The unbeaten Middletown team is looking for its second straight title after having beaten Wyomissing in last year’s championship clash. Wyomissing held off Littlestown 13-9 in its semifinal matchup Friday. 

Bermudian Springs, of the York-Adams League’s Section 3 division, had a 7-3 record and entered the playoffs as the district’s No. 4 seed. Although the Raiders were the heavy favorites to win the game, the Eagles had other ideas. 

After falling behind 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Eagles scored with 14 seconds left in the half and surprised many, including the Middletown faithful. 

“They are a playoff team. They came here and were not fazed by all that was going on at our field,” Middletown coach Brett Myers said. “They run a wing-T offense, something that we had not seen this year and we had to adjust to it.”

Adjust is exactly what the Blue Raiders did in the second half. 

After stopping the Eagles’ first offensive drive of the second half at the 26 yard line, the Raiders roared back to score three touchdowns in the final 4:49 of the third quarter to turn the closely played match into a rout. By adding another touchdown with 10:10 left in the game, the Middletown team ended the Eagles’ season.

As rousing as the finish was for the home team, the first couple minutes were anything but. On the second play of the game, Bermudian’s Darren Beall intercepted a Scott Ash pass near midfield. The Eagles picked up 7 yards on first down, but that was all they would get as the Middletown defense held firm and forced a punt. 

A long bouncing punt, coupled with a personal foul penalty against the Raiders that pushed the ball to the 4 yard line, had the home team facing a long field. But runs by Fox and backfield mate Jose Lopez moved the ball out to the 40. Ash then hit Tyreer Mills on a deep post pattern and the pair connected for a 53-yard gain to the 7. Fox took it in from there, darting through a gap on the right side and diving into the end zone for the game’s first points. Donovan Brady’s PAT gave the Raiders the 7-0 lead. 

The Eagles came back with a promising drive that started at their own 14 and reached the Middletown 25 in 11 plays. A pair of pass completions by Eagles quarterback Chase Dull covered 16 and 17 yards and keyed the drive. The first quarter ended with the Eagles perched at the 17 yard line facing a fourth and 2. The drive died there, however, when Trayvon Joseph stopped Beall for no gain on the first play of the second stanza. 

Fox carried the ball for 8 and 10 yards and earned the Raiders a first down at the 35. On the next call Fox broke free after picking up five yards to the 40 and then outran everyone all the way to the south end zone for his second touchdown. He picked up a good downfield block by Ash on the play. 

With the 14-0 lead, the home side was feeling pretty comfortable. But the Eagles again showed flashes of success with their wing-T, starting off with a 37 yard pass from Dull to Kolt Byers. A pass interference call against the Raiders gave the Eagles a first down at the 31. But they would get no more. On second down Mills broke up a pass and on third and 9 Joseph and Adonis Taveras dropped Thomas Bross for a 6-yard loss, forcing a Bermudian punt. 

Another long kick by Noah Aeppli again pinned the Raiders back at their own 4. But this time, the home team made it only as far as its 32 before being forced to punt also. A couple of clutch passes by Dull and a pair of major penalties against the Raiders moved the guests deep into Raider territory with the time winding down in the first half. Beall’s 1-yard dive with 14 ticks left put the Eagles on the board and trimmed the Middletown lead to 14-7 at the break. 

The Eagles carried that momentum into the second half as they put together a steady drive down the field to start the third quarter. Dull completed 6 of 8 passes in the march that reached the Middletown 24. But a couple key defensive plays by Antonio Gamble, along with a Bermudian penalty, brought up a fourth and 12 at the 26. Leach’s hit that broke up Dull’s pass ended the drive and essentially took away any momentum the Eagles had earned. 

On the Raiders’ next three plays following the turnover on downs, Fox ran for 21, 9 and 6 yards, giving the Middletown squad a first down at the Bermudian Springs’ 37. That last run, however, finished Fox’s night as he suffered the ankle injury. 

One play later, Ash connected with Leach for 27 yards to the 10. Ash’s next throw, a short screen pass to Lopez, turned into a scoring play. With Brady’s extra point the home team upped its lead to 21-7 with 3:38 left in the third quarter. From that point on, the Middletown defense shut down the Eagles. With Cole Senior, Kyle Truesdale, Gamble, Devin Martin and Gage Radabaugh leading the way the Raiders held the Eagles to just 32 total yards over the game’s final 15 minutes.  

Following the Middletown touchdown, the Eagles went three-and-out and the Blue Raiders took over at the Bermudian Springs’ 47 following a punt. And it took just one play for the Middletown side to score again. And it was Lopez again doing the honors. 

Going left, Lopez stepped out of three tackles at the 40 and flew past the Eagles secondary for the score with 1:22 left in the period. Feeling the pending victory, the Raiders were not done yet. On Bermudian’s first play following Brady’s touchback kickoff, Martin intercepted Dull’s throw and the Middletown offense was back on the field at the Eagles’ 38. 

Ash hooked up with Leach again through the air, this one covering 16 yards to the 22. On a sweep right, Lopez went the distance and, with less than a minute remaining, the home team fans were celebrating the Raiders’ 35-7 lead. 

Early in the fourth quarter, that lead expanded to 42-7. On first down following yet another Eagles punt the Raiders started right at midfield. With Joey Gusler, Cole Senior, Morgan Billman, Brendan Douglass and Ethan Miller doing what they do best, Lopez broke off a 43-yard run to the 7 and then capped the quick drive on the next play for his fourth touchdown of the contest and put the game out of reach at 42-7 with 10:10 left and the mercy clock set in motion.

The Eagles came up empty on their final two possessions of the game and the Blue Raiders claimed yet another victim in their outstanding season.   

 

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