H.S. FOOTBALL: Dragons beat Lions for second straight win
PURCHASE LINE — Purchase Line’s offense couldn’t have been much more effective than it was Friday night. The Red Dragons scored on five straight possessions, scored 40 points in the first half, never had to punt and finished the game with no turnovers — any coach’s dream.
Junior Grant Syster rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns, and the Red Dragons dominated winless United, 47-6, in a Heritage Conference football game controlled by Purchase Line’s offensive line.
Todd Greene added 144 rushing yards, and Hunter Rice finished with 106 for Purchase Line, which rolled up 257 yards on the ground and outgained the Lions 472-58.
But as good as their performance was, coach Brandon Overdorff thinks his team still has a lot room to improve in the final three weeks of the season.
“We came to play tonight,” Overdorff said. “We’re only getting better. Our kids just came ready to play, and we physically dominated them on both sides of the ball. Our offensive line just blew open some huge holes, and the kids just ran like little bulls loose in the pasture. But that’s how you win football games. We’re getting better, and I’m proud of my kids. It was a great win, but we still have work to do.”
The Lions, on the other hand, lost their 17th straight game and managed just 58 total yards, including minus-12 in the first half. They didn’t take a snap in Purchase Line territory or gain a first down until their final drive of the game.
“It’s been the same story all year,” United coach Lance Holupka said. “We didn’t tackle on defense. We just didn’t show up tonight.”
Syster’s final carry of the night, a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, put him over 1,000 yards on the season. He has 1,035 yards through seven games.
“The thing I want to say about Grant is that we sat down after last season and talked about how blessed he is with his tremendous potential,” Overdorff said. “And he went right to work. He did everything I told him to. He went in the weight room and just pounded the weights all summer, and you’re seeing the dividends that hard work pays off. When you take a God-given ability and you work at it and have a passion for it, you can do great things on the football field. He keeps getting better and better, and the sky is the limit for the kid.”
Purchase Line started the game with a 73-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard run by Syster. Quarterback Alec Sunderlin then added a 1-yard touchdown at the 2:21 mark in the first quarter.
“We thought we were in for a real dogfight with United,” Overdorff said. “We watched them on tape and thought they were strong up front. But our kids were ready to play. Our defense stepped up, and we dialed up some stuff at the right times. We just shut them down. It was a great victory, and that’s how you win football games.”
Syster scored his 40-yarder with 6:49 left in the first half to put the Red Dragons up 21-0. Purchase Line then scored on its next two plays from scrimmage, a 56-yard touchdown by Rice and a 48-yard run by Greene. The defense forced a three-and-out, and two plays later, Greene scored from midfield to give the Red Dragons a running clock for the entire second half.
“Grant is just getting better,” Overdorff said. “We give him the ball a lot because we need him to mature a little bit as a running back. He’s stepping up now, and he’s really feeling it. And Hunter Rice is a freshman, and he did the same thing. The offensive like just did an outstanding job. Those kids are young.”
Both teams had their junior varsity players in for most of the second half, but Purchase Line was still too much for United to handle.
“We were down 40-0 at half, so I put the younger kids in to get the experience,” Holupka said. “We just weren’t there tonight.”
Greene tacked on an 8-yard score with 1:39 left in the third quarter to give the Red Dragons a 47-0 lead.
“We went with power football for the most part, and then we came back to Todd on the counter,” Overdorff said. “There were biting down trying to stop our tailback, and that opened up some stuff for us and allowed Todd to have a big night running the football, too. It was good to see him get out there and make some things happen.”
Purchase Line’s defense had a solid game, too, shutting out the Lions until there was just 3:50 left in the game.
The Lions marched 73 yards on their final possession, and Jesse Beacker hit Kolt Jarvis with a 23-yard touchdown pass to put United on the board.
“We saw what we thought they were going to do tonight, and they did it,” Overdorff said. “We were pretty well prepared for it all. We were the more physical football team tonight, and we were the better football team tonight. We played pretty clean, and that’s how you win football games. That’s the story of football. The team that executes the best and takes care of the football wins.
“You can always find something that needs worked on, but tonight we’re going to celebrate the victory. That’s two wins in a row for Purchase Line. We’ll keep working to get stuff cleaned up, but it was a great win for us.”
The Red Dragons are hoping to win three straight games for the first time since 2008, when they went undefeated in the regular season. They face undefeated Penns Manor next week.
“This feels great,” Syster said. “We had a great game, we won two in a row, and hopefully we can go upset Penns Manor next week. When we have momentum on our side, it’s hard to stop us.”