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Never a doubt: Raiders freeze out Polar Bears with 28-point first quarter

By Larry Etter, Press & Journal Staff
Posted 9/13/17

With their first offensive possession of the game on Friday night in Dillsburg, the Blue Raiders drove 82 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. 

On their second possession, the Middletown …

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Never a doubt: Raiders freeze out Polar Bears with 28-point first quarter


With their first offensive possession of the game on Friday night in Dillsburg, the Blue Raiders drove 82 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. 

On their second possession, the Middletown offense moved 59 yards in just four plays for a another score. 

The third time they had the ball, the Raiders needed just four more plays to cover 65 yards for 7 more points. 

And, after that, the Raiders needed just three plays to cover 68 yards as they jumped out to an overwhelming 28-0 lead over the host Northern York Polar Bears (now 1-2 on the season) before the first quarter ended, en route to a 35-0 win.

“Again our kids worked hard,” Blue Raiders coach Brett Myers said following the win. “Everyone did their assignments and followed the game plan.” 

The Blue Raiders, now 2-0, haven’t lost a regular season game since Oct. 30, 2015, when they fell on the road to Steel-High, 19-18. They haven’t lost at home since Sept. 4, 2015, when they lost to Lower Dauphin, 35-21, in the season opener.

Middletown returns home Friday to host the West Perry Mustangs, who stand at 0-2 on the season. The Mid-Penn Colonial Division member has lost on the road to Palmyra, 28-24, and at home to East Pennsboro, 47-21. Game time at War Memorial Field is 7 p.m. 

While there were lots of offensive highlights in the first half for the Raiders, the defense again stood tall for the second week in a row, this time shutting down the Polar Bears on their home turf. Middletown, led by Blake Jacoby, Cole Senior, Gage Radabaugh, Kyle Truesdale, Chris Plummer and Antonio Gamble, shut down the Bears and has given up only 7 points in its two wins.

With the fifth touchdown coming with 7:09 left in the first half, and the Middletown defense continuing to pitch a shutout, Myers freely substituted players in the third and fourth quarters.

Led by the running of sophomore Jose Lopez (15 carries, 156 yards) and senior Brady Fox (seven carries, 110 yards), the Blue Raiders ran for nearly 300 yards. 

Fox, coming off an injury in the preseason and limited duty in the first game against Lower Dauphin, scored three times while Lopez scored once. 

The other score came on a Scott Ash-to-Tyreer Mills pass play that went for 45 yards. 

Ash threw for more than 100 yards and had a couple passes dropped that would have led to more. Myers acknowledged that Ash was an efficient offensive leader in the game. 

Much credit for the efficiency of the offense goes to the Raiders’ rebuilt offensive line. Joining returning starter Brendan Douglass were center Aaron McDevitt, guards Morgan Billman and Joey Gusler and tackle Ethan Miller, who paved the way for Lopez and Fox. McDevitt, however, suffered a knee injury late in the third quarter and was not able to finish the game. 

The game’s opening drive for the Raiders started at their own 18 and a false start on the first play set them back to the 13. (Like in their opening game, the Raiders were again plagued by multiple penalties but played through the errors.) 

Runs by Mills, Fox and Lopez got the Middletown offense moving in the right direction. On the eighth play, Fox darted right up the middle from five yards out for the touchdown at the 9:21 mark. Donovan Brady made the first of five extra point kicks and the Raiders led 7-0. 

Taking over with 7:38 left following a Polar Bear punt, the Raiders scored on the pass from Ash to Mills from 45 yards out. Mills took the swing pass on the left side and used his speed to gain momentum. Getting a good downfield block from Plummer, Mills reached the end zone at 6:27. 

Northern picked up a first down on the following series but the drive stalled at the Bears’ 37, bringing up another punt that went out of bounds at the Middletown 35. A pair of penalties nearly killed the Raiders’ possession, but Fox blasted past the Northern defense on a second and 17 play. Again going up the middle Fox made a pair of slick cuts and picked up a key block by Tre’ Leach to reach the end zone with 2:30 left in the opening quarter. 

Yet another Northern punt put the ball back in the Blue Raiders’ hands with 1:33 remaining. Lopez raced 33 yards on first down and then capped the quick drive with a 34-yard touchdown run two plays later. On the play Lopez started right, cut back to the middle where he neatly sidestepped a pair of Bears and then used his speed down the left side for the score. 

With 10:26 left in the first half, the Raiders were back on offense following yet another Polar Bear punt. Runs by Fox and Leach, plus an 18-yard pass from Ash to Lamar Ventura, set up Fox’s three-yard touchdown run at 7:09. Fox again ran the middle again for the score that pushed Middletown’s advantage up to 35-0. 

The Bears showed some signs of life on their ensuing possession that included a 32-yard run by quarterback Chris Barrett, but the drive was hurt by a major penalty against Northern and a sack by Senior on fourth down. 

The Raiders’ next possession earned one first down on another catch by Ventura of 23 yards, but the Northern defense finally stopped a Middletown drive to prevent further scoring. 

Neither team was able to establish any offensive consistency in the second half. Northern’s defensive adjustments kept the Blue Raiders from adding to their point total and the Middletown defense continued to dominate its opponents. 

With the mercy clock running throughout the second half, plays were limited for both teams. Myers let his backup players finish the game. 

Ventura recovered a Polar Bear fumble with 5:21 left at the Northern 32, but the Raiders lost the ball four plays later at the 25 ending the opportunity for the subs to score.