Football: Knights used extra motivation and strong defense to beat Titans, 27-0, reach 5-0

The Knights used two-year old motivation and a defense that has gotten better with age to knock off the Titans, 27-0.

For a team that has been known for their powerful offensive attack, the Middletown High School Knights Varsity Football team has a defense that isn’t too shabby.

The Knights would put the Tuscarora High School Titans offense in gridlock throughout the game, coasting to a 27-0 win over the Titans and their third shutout in five games this season.

The Knights (5-0) were good on defense from the start, limiting the Titans (4-1) to just 124 yards with only 75 yards on the ground.

What was even more impressive for the Knights is that the Titans had two of the top 6 running backs in Frederick County coming into the game.

Tuscarora junior Shane Markward had rushed for 417 yards on 76 carries, good for fourth in the county, while junior Micah Anderson had rushed for 376 yards on 48 carries, putting him sixth best in the county.

The Knights were good from the start limiting Markward to 6 yards on 8 carries, while Anderson was a bit better for the Titans gaining 53 yards on 11 attempts.

The shutout comes at a crucial time as the Knights faced a test against the Titans who were 4-0 coming into the game and posed the biggest challenge for Middletown since they played Westminster in Week 1.

The fact that the Knights had not just beaten but shutout an undefeated team was not lost on the coaching staff.

“Anytime you can go like that against a pretty good team like them it can boost you confidence mentally,” said Knights Head Coach Kevin Lynott.

‘Our defense is doing well. When we can post a shutout against an undefeated team it is good work,” said Lynott. “We were proud of how physical are guys were against an undefeated team.”

The Knights defense would hold up with a trio of seniors leading the way for Middletown.

Middletown senior Frankie Meighan spearheaded the defensive effort at linebacker recording 7 solo tackles, one assisted tackle, 4 tackles for loss, and a sack totaling up to 7.5 tackles and 1 sack.

The defensive back duo of Knights seniors Mitch Sgrignoli and Tim Schumacher would also come up big, with Tuscarora only completing 9 of 27 passes for just 49 yards.

It was a good individual effort for Schumacher who ended the night with 5 solo tackles, one assisted tackle, and an interception to end the second quarter.

Giving Middletown any extra motivation would be foolish but, unknowingly, Tuscarora had given the Knights extra motivation two years ago in a JV football game.

Tuscarora beat 35-7 in the final JV Football game of the 2011-2012 season and proceeded to celebrate on the field after the game, an act which multiple Knights took offense too.

Adding an insult to injury was the decision by Tuscarora to put the headshots of the key Knights players on the locker, another action which the Knights saw as disrespectful to themselves and the program.

Meighan seemed to put it best when saying that, “We stand up for people who bully our friends, our brothers. We are all one big family, we are all brothers.”

“There was an added dimension, they made it personal by putting pictures of our players on their lockers,” said Meighan.

The defense started out the game well causing two straight Titans’ three-and-outs with the Titans only having two plays go for positive yardage during their first two drives.

While the Knights defense was shutting the Titans down, Middletown’s offense was already starting to expand their lead.

On the opening drive for the Knights, Middletown rattled off two big plays to begin with.

The Knights first play from scrimmage was a 44 yard pass from senior Tim Pirrone to senior Ben Panther for a gain of 44 yards.

Pirrone would only rack up 13 more yards through the air during the game but those first 44 seemed to be the most crucial as they set the tone for the Knights’ offense during the first half.

The next play would be a 19 yard run by Middletown senior Bradley Rinehart and would move the ball inside the red zone. The Knights however would stall on their drive with only three points coming on a 19 yard field goal by junior Nick Welch.

The Knights however would not stall on their next drive using a 26 yard run by Pirrone, back-to-back runs of 16 and 13 by Rinehart to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion to give themselves a double digit lead only 5:44 into the game.

Middletown would tack on another three points by Welch on a much more impressive 42 yard field goal to go up by two touchdowns at the end of the first quarter.

Middletown would put in some of their back-ups for the second quarter and with the pace of the game slowing down with the Knights already up the second quarter would turn into a tedious affair.

The Knights would score on a 3 yard touchdown run by Welch late in the second quarter, giving themselves a 21 point lead at halftime.

Middletown’s starters would return in the second half with a return in speed, resulting in a touchdown on a 6 yard touchdown pass from Pirrone to senior tight end Ricky Leonard.

Even though the Knights missed the extra point, the Knights would coast from then on out, with the only miscue being a fumbled snap by Pirrone in the Tuscarora red zone early in the fourth quarter.

The Knights will now move on to take on the Frederick High School Cadets, a team that limps into after losing three in a row, with an offense that has only averaged 13.2 points per game.

Another negative for the Cadets is that the Knights have already found extra meaning in the game, as the game will be the first event of Homecoming weekend for the Knights.

“I’ve been in other schools and homecoming is a lot of hype,” said Lynott. “At Middletown, it is not hype. The mood of the events of Homecoming weekend is determined by the Homecoming game.”

Hopefully for Frederick, the Knights won’t find any other momentum;  or else it could be another round of donuts for the Knights.