Northern Bedford runs down Meyersdale
Justin Hoover breaks tackles and gets free to score his second touchdown of the first half on a short pass from Meyersdale quarterback Justin Donaldson at Northern Bedford on Friday. (Staff photo by Roger Vogel)
Not on this night.
Northern Bedford running back Matt Sollenberger rushed for 302 yards on 47 carries to overshadow QB Logan Fluke's outstanding performance and power the the Black Panthers to a 40-20 victory over Meyersdale on Friday in the first round of the District 5 Class A playoffs.
"Workhorse is the right word for him," Northern Bedford coach Jeff Batzel said of Sollenberger. "And the offensive line did a great job. It was like a black wave at times. His total yardage was just phenominal."
As for Fluke's performance, Batzel added: "He hung in the pocket and knew when he needed to bail. He made good decisions, obviously, when you're a perfect 16 for 16. He had a great game tonight."
Meanwhile, Meyersdale quarterback Justin Donaldson had a solid night, completing 10 of 24 passes for 242 yards. Justin Hoover was the Red Raiders' leading rusher with 43 yards.
Despite a decided disadvantage in time of possession, the Red Raides trailed by only eight points (28-20) at the end of the first half thanks to quick-strike plays.
The Black Panthers struck first, scoring on the opening possession of the game. Caleb Ebersole finished off a 12-play, 76-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run. Jonas Bequeath booted the PAT kick and the hosts led 7-0.
Meyersdale answered right back with a quick four-play series thanks to a 42-yard pass and catch from Justin Donaldson to Brandon "Slice" Miller. That put the Raiders in position for a 10-yard TD run by Justin Hoover. Brandon "Hoss" Miller's kick was good on the PAT and the score was tied 7-7.
Northern Bedford went up by two scores following a pair of TD passes from Logan Fluke. The first was a 25-yarder to Zach Pressel and the second was a 23-yard toss to Kyler Diehl.
The Black Panthers seemed poised to pull away but Meyersdale kept coming.
Hoover returned a kickoff back 81 yards to the end zone. "Hoss" Miller added the extra-point kick and the scoreboard read 21-14 in favor of Northern Bedford at the 8:48 mark of the second quarter.
The two teams traded scores to end the half as Matt Sollenberger hit paydirt from 2 yards out for Northern and Donaldson connected with Monroe on a 51-yard screen pass that went all the way for the Red Raiders.
Northern had one more scoring chance in second quarter but Meyersdale's defense forced a fumble and Kyle Monroe recovered the loose ball to stop the threat.
The turning point for the Panthers came early in the third quarter when Sollenberger picked off a pass on Meyersdale's opening possession and returned it 45 yards to the 10-yard line. Sollenberger then carried it in two plays later to give his team a 34-20 advantage.
The Red Raiders could not rebound from the deficit and Northern Bedford added one more score on a 16-yard TD pass from Fluke to Tayler Pressel to put the game away.
"I thought we played well offensively in the first half," Meyersdale coach Chris Schrock said. "We had some big plays. Hoover, Brandon Miller, each had a couple big plays. We were answering them, score for score. We knew at some point we would have to hold them on defense and we weren't able to do that. We could not stop their running game. Up front, they were too much for us. That's the bottom line. ... We weren't really able to get our game plan going because we were playing catchup all night."
Northern Bedford improved to 8-2 and will face second-seeded Windber next Saturday night in the 5-A semifinals. Meyersdale, which entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed, finished the season with a record of 5-5.
"All things considered, after you take into account of injuries and things at the beginning of the season, 5-5, we'll take it," Schrock said. "We would have liked to have won a few more, including this one, but we finished .500 and we had a good group of seniors this year. They worked hard. We had a good group of young guys who stepped up when we needed them to. I think that bodes well for the future."