October 17, 2014
By Jim Steier
Powered by a dominating performance from its defense, the Mount Michael football team traveled to Schuyler and posted a 42-0 victory over the winless Warriors on Friday. The Knights’ stingy defensive effort came just one week after the unit struggled against Bennington.
“We didn't change anything about our defensive scheme,” said senior linebacker Andy Ernst. “The seniors were steady in their leadership roles and several underclassmen stepped up and played well.”
Ernst singled out sophomores Jeff Petry, Ryan Riddle, Drew Goddard and Caiden Groff. Groff led that crew with five tackles and two interceptions. Petry had three tackles, Goddard had two and Ryan Riddle added five, including a jarring hit on Schuyler running back Neff Mejia to cause a fumble.
The Mount Michael defense finished with six takeaways, consisting of two interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Senior safety Mick Steier led the team with 11 tackles and Jake Mumby chipped in seven stops.
Schuyler’s best offensive opportunity was snuffed out when Steier dove to block a 48-yard field goal attempt with 7:58 left in the second quarter.
Overall, Mount Michael’s defense allowed Schuyler only 83 yards of total offense, including six first downs and 14 yards rushing. “We had a lot of players deliver great defensive performances,” said Mount Michael Coach Jon Borer. “But I really thought Groff, Steier and Ryan Riddle stood out.”
The Knight’s offense got off to a slow start in the first quarter. After Groff picked off a Jesse Westerbuhr pass on the game’s second play, the Knights failed to convert and turned the ball over on downs. After its second drive also ended unsuccessfully, Mount Michael finally got on the board with :51 remaining in the first quarter on a three-yard run by Mumby.
“At the beginning of the game, our offense struggled because several of us weren’t on the same page,” senior quarterback Jake Batenhorst said. “After a couple series, we got into a rhythm and we were able to have a lot of success the rest of the game.”
The Knights’ offense did its damage both on the ground and through the air, finishing with 167 yards rushing and 217 passing. Batenhorst surpassed 4,000 passing yards in his Mount Michael career while connecting on 19 of his 25 throws.
Mumby, a senior running back, ran for 139 yards on 21 carries, including touchdown runs of two, three and five yards. The Mount Michael aerial attack was led by Chris Riddle’s eight catches, 107 yards and a touchdown. Steier added four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown, while Alex Miklas caught four balls for 17 yards.
The victory improved Mount Michael’s record to 4-4 and kept the team’s hopes alive for a playoff berth.
“First and foremost, we need to win against a good Blair football team,” Borer said. “After that, we will need a few other things to fall into place in order to qualify for the playoffs. But none of that matters if we don’t play well and find a way to beat Blair.”
Despite the challenge that lies ahead, the players are excited to be in this position. “We know that Blair has a very good team,” Steier said. “But we also know that if we execute on both sides of the ball, we can compete with any team in the state.”
After taking a 7-0 lead after the first quarter, Mount Michael scored 21 points in the second quarter to build a 28-0 halftime advantage. Second quarter touchdowns included a run by Mumby and catches by Steier and Garrett Raabe. Raabe’s touchdown was an impressive individual effort as the senior hauled in a pass across the middle of the field and shrugged off three potential tacklers to score for the first time in his Mount Michael career.
The first half’s final touchdown came in unlikely fashion. With only .02 seconds on the clock and the Knights sitting at the Warriors’ 24-yard line, Batenhorst rolled to his right and connected with Steier at the Schuyler 10-yard line. Steier then avoided the first tackler and split two defenders to get into the end zone as time expired.
In the second half, the Mount Michael offense came out ready to play. On the third play of the half, Mumby took a handoff and sprinted 48 yards to the Schuyler 5-yard line. On the very next play, Mumby capped the drive with run off right tackle to put the Knights ahead 35-0 with 10:31 remaining in the third quarter.
Mount Michael’s final touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from Batenhorst to Chris Riddle in the back of the end zone with 8:37 remaining in the third quarter.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Mount Michael 7 21 14 0 42
Schuyler 0 0 0 0 0
MMB - Jake Mumby 3 run (Matt Dugick kick) 0:51
MMB - Mumby 2 run (Dugick kick) 6:00
MMB - Garrett Raabe 32 pass from Jake Batenhorst (Dugick kick) 4:01
MMB - Mick Steier 24 pass from Batenhorst (Dugick kick) 0:00
MMB - Mumby 5 run (Dugick kick) 10:31
MMB - Chris Riddle 25 pass from Batenhorst (Dugick kick) 8:37