ALTOONA — In the three football games Chambersburg has played in this crazy season, one thing is abundantly clear: If the Trojans can’t figure out how to stop the run, life is going to continue to be very difficult.
Altoona drove that point home again Friday night at Mansion Park in a 42-28 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division victory.
The Mountain Lions (2-1, 2-0 MPC) ran the ball 62 times and gained 428 yards. The Chambersburg defense essentially stopped them one time all game.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage, and in football, that’s where it all starts every Friday night,” Chambersburg coach Mark Luther said. “They have some big, strong seniors up front against our sophomores, and they locked onto us and just pounded the ball. If we don’t slow the run game, there’s no reason for them to throw the ball.”
Altoona fullback Ethan Stroup was the recipient of the work of the offensive line. He carried an astounding 41 times, gained 232 yards and scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Marcus Day wasn’t far behind, with 16 carries for 127 yards and four TDs.
Luther said, “If you’re getting beat like that, you have to try some different things. The one series we stopped them, we were able to penetrate with some blitzes, but then we got tired, didn’t penetrate and they found some seams.”
Chambersburg (0-3, 0-3 MPC) had a decent night on offense, with 28 points and 284 yards. And the Trojans did make some big plays to keep drives going.
Malaki Blair had the highlight of the night.
In the third quarter, after Altoona had scored to take a 28-14 lead, Blair ran for a first down, then found Sam Vessah for 12 yards on fourth-and-9. Jayden Jones completed the drive with a 20-yard scamper. The defense got its only stop on the next possession, stoning Stroup on fourth-and-2.
Three plays later, Blair took one to the house from 61 yards away and Tanner Luther’s kick tied the game 28-28 with 1:00 left in the third period.
It wasn’t just any run, however. Blair dropped back and felt the heat coming from his left. He took off around the right side and sped past the lineman. Then he put two beautiful moves on a pair of linebackers to get some space and outraced the defensive back to the corner of the end zone. It was a special play.
“The offense made some big plays, and Malaki scored twice with his feet (the other was a 19-yard run),” Luther said. “And he hit some seams on his passes.”
Unfortunately, any momentum Chambersburg gained with the long touchdown was taken away when Altoona grounded out another long drive — 10 plays for 80 yards — with Day finishing from the Trojan 3. After stopping the Trojans, the Mountain Lions went 57 yards on eight plays, with Day’s 21-yard run capping the drive and the game.
Luther said, “We’ll just have to keep plugging away.”
NOTES: Blair ran for 90 yards and Jones had 68 … Vessah led the receivers with 4 catches for 53 yards and Lee had four for 39 … Lee had the other touchdown, on a 2-yard pass from Blair on fourth-and-goal … There was only one punt in the game … The only turnover was a fumble by Blair, recovered by Altoona’s Nick Petrucci … Chambersburg plays CD East at home next Friday.
Altoona 42, Chambersburg 28
Chambersburg 7 7 14 0 — 28
Altoona 7 14 7 14 — 42
A — Marcus Day 1 run (Ian Palilla kick), 7:18
C — Malaki Blair 19 run (Tanner Luther kick), 5:50
A — Ethan Stroup 10 run (Palilla kick), 11:55
A — Day 2 run (Palilla kick), 5:11
C — Lee 2 pass from Blair (Luther kick), 0:52
A — Stroup 18 run (Palilla kick), 7:58
C — Jayden Jones 20 run (Luther kick), 5:06
C — Blair 61 run (Luther kick), 1:00
A — Day 3 run (Palilla kick), 8:22
A — Day 21 run (Palilla kick), 1:58
First downs 13 27
Rushes-yards 25-156 62-428
Passing 14-23-0 2-3-0
Passing yards 133 19
Total offense 289 447
Punts-avg. 1-33 0-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-21 5-28
Rushing — Chbg, Blair 9-90, Jones 14-68, Lee 2-(-2). Alt, Stroup 41-232, Day 16-127, Kyle Murray 4-31, Kyle Pheasant 3-23, Andre Dokes 1-12, Alex Yost 1-3.
Passing — Chbg, Blair 14-23-0-133. Alt, Day 2-3-0-19.
Receiving — Chbg, Sam Vessah 4-53, Lee 4-39, Grant Hopple 2-18, Jones 3-16, Nate Abbott 1-6. Alt, Jake Adams 1-10, Pheasant 1-9.