Sportsbeat: Altoona beats Williamsport; continues playoff run

Sports

WINGATE, CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– After taking down State College last week for the District 6 Class 6A championship, Altoona continued their winning ways– besting Williamsport 29-14 to move on in the playoffs.

On the Mountain Lions’ first possession, Marcus Day handed off to Ethan Stroup who ran through a big hole–punching in an 8 yard touchdown for the first score of the game.

Williamsport then put together a long drive and was threatening to score when Millionaire’s QB Frankie Morrone under-threw a pass that was intercepted by Aaron Carothers in the end zone for a touchback, ending the Millionaire’s drive.

Later in the second quarter Day threw a perfectly placed touch pass to Tyreke Green who made an over-the-shoulder catch in the middle of the end zone for a 21-yard score—putting Altoona up 14-0 going into halftime.

In the second half, Williamsport again was threatening to score when Millionaire’s QB Dallas Griess over-threw his receiver in the end zone–and Kyle Pheasant (who looked more like a receiver on the play) came down with the interception. Pheasant took a knee for a touchback.

Later, after the Mountain Lion’s drive stalled, Kyle Murray’s punt was muffed by Williamsport’s Keith Freeman and pounced on by Altoona–deep in the Millionaire’s territory.

The Mountain Lions took advantage of this mistake.

Once again Day threw a well-placed touch pass to Pheasant who held onto the ball after be hit immediately after making the catch inside the Williamsport 5-yard line.

That set up a QB sneak score by Day, giving Altoona a 21-0 lead.

But Williamsport would come back with two scores quickly.

First, on the ensuing drive, Griess broke outside and avoided multiple tacklers with juke moves before scoring. The PAT was missed

Then, minutes later–after Altoona went three-and-out on their ensuing possession–the Millionaires cashed-in with Nasir Henningan who rumbled for a score. Williamsport converted on their two-point try–making it a one-score game in the fourth quarter (Altoona led 21-14).

On Altoona’s ensuing possession, Stroup fumbled deep in the Mountain Lion’s own territory. The referees ruled that the Millionaires recovered the loose ball–giving the team a chance to tie the game with a touchdown.

But, on a designed curl/out route by Williamsport–Griess stared down his receiver and fired a rocket pass that was intercepted by Eddy Franklin–who foresaw the throw and broke on the route.

Franklin had nothing but the green artificial turf at Eagle Stadium in front of him as he sprinted 94-yards on a pick-six that would seal Altoona’s victory.

“I saw that ball and my heart dropped–and I knew I had to make that play cause it meant a lot to the team… and I had to make something happen,” Franklin said after the game.

When WTAJ asked Franklin another question about the team utilizing the “under-dog” mantra to their advantage, Franklin began to answer but then paused and said: “I can’t even talk right now–I’m so excited. It’s a good feeling cause we can prove people wrong when we do what we’re supposed to do.”

Altoona’s Head Coach Vince Nedimeyer gave his thoughts on Franklin’s timely interception:

“Do you job and good things are gonna happen. We’re backed up again–with our backs against the wall and he just made a play. It’s been a long time coming. I could not be happier for him.”

He added: “We’re goofy we say to our kids can you answer the phone–there were a lot of phones ringing tonight and the kids stepped up and made big plays.”

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