CLAYSBURG — Tyler Rhodes said there were a few bumps in the road during the offseason at Tussey Mountain, but that was far from the case on Friday night in the 2019 opener.
With Rhodes playing a major role, the Titans enjoyed smooth sailing on their way to a dominating 48-6 victory at Claysburg-Kimmel.
Tussey took advantage of four turnovers and rang up over 400 yards of offense.
“It was a hard-working summer for us,” said Rhodes, who scored a touchdown three different ways — a run, a reception, and an interception return. “At first, we didn’t have many kids at summer workouts, but that increased throughout. The intensity was there and we worked through it.”
After both teams left the field on downs on their respective first possessions, the Bulldogs took over at their own 30-yard line.
On the first snap, a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage fell into Rhodes’ hands, who sprinted back 28 yards for the game’s first score. Tussey Mountain was flagged for a personal foul after the play and a longer two-point conversion attempt failed to leave the visitors with a 6-0 lead at the 7:09 mark of the first quarter.
The Titans recovered a fumble less than two minutes later and had the ball at the CK 47. Facing a fourth and long, Matt Leonard dropped back and threw a perfect pass to Rhodes in stride that ended up being a 46-yard touchdown strike. Rhodes ran the ball in for two and it was 14-0 with 3:58 on the clock.
“It was very important (to get an early lead),” said Rhodes. “If we come out fast and strong, I don’t think any team can stop us.”
Claysburg-Kimmel was stopped on downs late in the quarter to hand the ball back to Tussey Mountain. The Titans made their longest drive of the night count by going 67 yards in 10 plays.
Kaden Lucko’s run from one yard out and a Chad Morningstar extra point made it 21-0 with just over 10 minutes to go before halftime.
Later in the period, the Bulldogs moved into Titan territory again, only to have another turnover happen. They were forced into a long fourth down attempt, and David Smith picked off Corey Chamberlain’s pass at the Tussey 27.
On the first play going the other way, Leonard found Jarred Sipes down the middle of the field that resulted in a 41-yard pass. Four snaps after, Lucko broke through two tackles for an 11-yard scoring run with 3:30 left in the half. A two-point run failed and that left the Titans with a 27-0 lead at the break.
“Our offense stepped up early and we took advantage of some things,” said Tussey Mountain coach Anthony Sottasante.
The Titans took a 34-0 lead on a two-yard run by Sipes, and Morningstar’s point-after, at the 4:01 mark of the third quarter.
Claysburg got on the board on Chamberlain’s 20-yard pass to Kobe Harr with 2:43 remaining. Harr caught the ball on the sideline and tip-toed his way into the end zone.
In the final frame, Tussey Mountain scored twice. Rhodes punched the ball across the goal line from a yard away, and backup quarterback Colton Bishop called his own number for a six-yard touchdown run. Morningstar converted extra points on both scores.
Tussey Mountain, 1-0, will be at Everett next week.
“We’re really starting to develop our personnel with our offense,” said Sottasante. “It’s our second year in the system and the kids are starting to understand it. We’re light years ahead of where we were offensively at the end of last season.”
Claysburg-Kimmel, 0-1, travels to Williamsburg next Friday.
“Tussey came out physical, and we didn’t respond the way we needed to,” said CK coach Matt Bilchak. “Hats off to Tussey Mountain for the way they played.
“We saw some looks we liked during the game, but we didn’t execute enough. If we don’t take advantage of those opportunities, bad things can happen.
“We just couldn’t link enough good plays together tonight.”
GAME NOTES — Lucko led the Titans in rushing with 97 yards, while Rhodes added 82 yards on the ground. ... Brendan Wright had the third interception for Tussey. ... Six players ran the ball for the Bulldogs, led by Zach Claycomb with 42 yards.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN 48, CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL 6
Tussey Mountain 14 13 7 14 — 48
Claysburg-Kimmel 0 0 6 0 — 6
TM — Tyler Rhodes 28-yard interception return (pass failed), 7:09 in the 1st.
TM — Rhodes 46-yard pass from Matt Leonard (Rhodes run), 3:58 in the 1st.
TM — Kaden Lucko 1-yard run (Chad Morningstar kick), 10:10 in the 2nd.
TM — Lucko 11-yard run (run failed), 3:30 in the 2nd.
TM — Jarred Sipes 2-yard run (Morningstar kick), 4:01 in the 3rd.
CK — Kobe Harr 20-yard pass from Corey Chamberlain (kick failed), 2:43 in the 3rd.
TM — Rhodes 1-yard run (Morningstar kick), 10:57 in the 4th.
TM — Colton Bishop 6-yard run (Morningstar kick), 4:29 in the 4th.
Team Statistics TM CK
First Downs 17 6
Yards Rushing 299 88
Yards Passing 124 48
Pass Record 8-13 5-17
Intercepted By 3 0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-60 5-37
Punts-Avg. 1-28 3-33
Individual Statistics Rushing
TM — Kaden Lucko 17-97; Tyler Rhodes 8-82; Jarred Sipes 6-34; Kenneth Sheeder 2-28; Noah Foor 3-18; Colton Bishop 3-15; Bryan Rankin 2-10; Jaden Yochum 1-8; Matt Leonard 2-2.
CK — Zach Claycomb 6-42; Seth Musselman 10-25; Joey Noah 4-9; Kobe Harr 2-7; Corey Chamberlain 2-4; Hunter Gaston 1-1.
TM — Leonard 8-13-124-0.
CK — Chamberlain 4-16-42-3; Caleb Oakes 1-1-6-0.
TM — Rhodes 3-54; Sipes 1-41; Landon Hennessey 3-19; Brendan Wright 1-10.
CK — Preston Bush 3-14; Harr 2-36; Musselman 1-(-2).
TM — Rhodes, Wright, David Smith.