Towanda downs Warrior Run in playoff opener.

By: Rick Vargason | Towanda Daily Review | November 10, 2007


TOWANDA - For Towanda Coach Craig Dawsey, 2007 has been a memorable one going a perfect 10-0 in the regular season with wins over Athens for the Northern Tier League Title and Wyalusing for another engraving on the Bronze Helmet.

So Friday night shouldn't have seemed surprising with a #8 seed 5-5 Warrior Run squad coming into Towanda for the District IV AA quarterfinal. But this Defender team came to town with four of their losses to state-ranked teams and they brought Coach Scott Shaffer's vaunted aerial attack with it.

However, the Black Knight defense stood toe-to-toe with pesky Defender quarterback Bryson Brooke, intercepting him three times to turn back Warrior Run, 27-13.

The Black Knights racked up 417 yards over the ground behind a powerful offensive line of Billy Gardner, Matt Davidson, Jordan Clark, Cameron Martin, and Anthony Dinelli.

Towanda quarterback Jake Lamphere ran for 161 yards on 21 keepers with two scores and senior stalwart Adam Harris who has anchored the Knight defense from his middle linebacker spot steamrolled Warrior Run for 177 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown looking like a runaway freight train.

"The line was opening up some seams for Jake and I," stated a mildly winded Harris. "They really started getting off the ball in the second half and we just tried to get what we could."

Towanda received the opening kick and looked anything but comfortable going three-and-out after three carries for losses and Lamphere punted setting up the Defenders with good field position at the Knights' 48-yard line.

On first down, Brooke laid out the game plan hitting Jed Hertzler down the middle for a 28 yard gain to the Towanda 20-yard line. But two false-starts put the Defenders in a hole at the 31-yard line where cornerback R.J. Baker reeled in a one-handed pick at the 10-yard line bringing the interception back to the 19-yard line.

From there, the Knights went to work as Lamphere converted to Baker on a key third-and-four for nine yards out to the 34-yard line.

On second down, a Cameron Sullivan sweep around the left side yielded 28, where he was finally knocked out of bounds inside Warrior Run territory at the 34-yard line. Lamphere hit Baker on the "wide-receiver screen" where Baker juked around Defender cornerback Chad Dixon racing down the sideline for the 34 yard scoring strike to draw first blood. Dakota Roof nailed the point after and Towanda led 7-0 with 5:49 to go in the first quarter.

"Chad's our best athlete. He's their best athlete. We had to commit eight guys to the run and he just made a great play," stated Shaffer on Baker's score.

Both teams exchanged punts before the slippery conditions of the freezing started to set in as each team exchanged fumbles setting up Warrior Run at their own 40-yard line. Two consecutive Brooke sneaks gave the Defenders a first down at the Knight 41-yard line. The Towanda defense yielded just 46 yards rushing on the night.

On second down, Brooke hit Hertler on the post pattern to the 18-yard line. Following a Quaid Richart run to the 13-yard line, Towanda was penalized for an inadvertent face mask putting the ball inside the 10-yard line where on fourth-and-one Richart was stuffed at the line by Harris, Davidson and Matt Wheeler for the turnover on downs. "They're stronger than us and you would think our running back would've gotten a yard there, but number eleven (Harris) is just a darn good linebacker," stated Shaffer on his fourth down play.

The Knights continued shooting themselves in the foot, being penalized twenty yards back to their own five-yard line with under 30 seconds to play in the half. Harris kicked it into four-wheel drive, brushing back Warrior Run defenders at the 21-yard line before being hauled down inside Defender territory at the 38-yard line. Towanda called its final timeout but a Lamphere keeper came up short at the half as he was knocked out at the 12-yard line.

Warrior Run took the second half kick and sported its aerial assault right away as Brooke hit Dixon and Hertzler for 32  and 26 yard gains, respectively setting up the Defenders at the 15-yard line of Towanda.

On third-and-eight, Brooke found Richart in the left flat for the 13 yard score to bring the Defenders within one. But a two-point conversion attempt was caught by Harris in the end zone, leaving Towanda with the one-point advantage at the 10:32 mark of the third.

The Black Knights responded with a nine play drive that bogged down at the 18-yard line when Towanda was flagged repeatedly three times on touchdown scores. The Defenders took over on downs but were forced into a three-and-out giving the Knights good field position at the 34-yard line. On second down, Lamphere broke free of the beaten down defense scrambling 29 yards to put Towanda up 14-6 with 3:32 to go in the third.

Early in the fourth, Warrior Run chose to go for it on fourth down where Lamphere put a crushing blow on Dixon at midfield, giving Towanda good field position at the Defender 39-yard line.

Seven plays later, Lamphere called his own number for the five yard stroll for the score and Roof's third extra point gave Towanda a 21-6 lead with 11:20 to play.

Warrior Run responded with a scoring strike from Brooke to Dixon with 5:59 to play from seven yards out, pulling the Defenders to within 21-13. But Towanda answered the call with a 26 yard score from Harris with 3:18 to play for the game's final margin, 27-13. With the win, Towanda advances to next week's semifinal where they will host Athens on Friday night, winners over Mifflinburg 40-12.