NEPA Sports Nation

NP ground game punishes Dallas

Will Soma and Mike Blaine moved the chains.

Korry Eisley took care of the runs that changed the numbers on the scoreboard.

Together, they pounded host Dallas into submission Friday night, opening a 21-point lead before the North Pocono offense was stopped for the first time in a 41-20 District 2 Class 4A football semifinal victory.

With Soma, Blaine and Eisley handling all 45 carries, North Pocono ran for 339 yards and 5 of its 6 touchdowns before kneeling twice to give 2 yards back from Victory Formation at the end of the game.

The Trojans (10-2) used that approach to advance to Friday’s District 2 championship game at Valley View (11-1).

North Pocono kicked off to start the game, but still scored twice in the first four minutes.

The Trojans then traded scores with Dallas twice, before opening a pair of three-touchdown leads.

Soma used traps, direct snap power plays, zone reads and even quarterback sneaks to do most of his damage between the tackles.

The North Pocono quarterback/safety carried 18 times for 164 yards and a touchdown, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass on his team’s first offensive play, made 5 tackles, intercepted a pass and broke up another on a third down to halt the first Dallas possession.

Blaine carried 22 times for 154 yards and a touchdown and, like Soma, also played a big defensive role. He made six tackles and assisted on two more.

Eisley’s first two carries and three of his five in the game went for touchdowns.

The Trojans had more than enough to offset Jackson Wydra’s 20-for-34 for 247-yard passing night, holding him to a single touchdown throw in the final minute.

Parker Bolesta had a touchdown run in each of the first three quarters, but the North Pocono defense held him to 39 yards on 15 carries, none of which produced more than 6 yards.

Overall, North Pocono built advantages of 24-16 in first downs, 337-61 in rushing yards and 393-308 in total offense.

North Pocono not only took two different offensive approaches in the game, but the Trojans used them appropriately.

First, the Trojans scored in one, three and five plays in the first 11 minutes for a 20-7 lead.

Then, after Dallas put together its second straight scoring drive to make it 20-14 with 10:07 left in the half, North Pocono did not let the Mountaineers have the ball any more.

Over the more-than-half-the-game stretch that followed, North Pocono held the ball for 25:01 to 1:35 by Dallas while stretching the lead to 41-20.

The Trojans scored on four first-half possessions then used consecutive first downs to crawl out of a hole before the first-half clock expired on the fifth. They scored again on the first two drives of the second half before the Mountaineers came up with a stop on downs at their 26 with 6:31 left.

In that span of nearly 27 minutes, North Pocono ran the ball 31 straight times at one point. They built advantages of 15-4 in first downs and 264-70 in total yardage.

Before the ground game took over, North Pocono used the threat of the run to jump in front.

After forcing Dallas to punt on fourth-and-17 to begin the game, North Pocono called a flea flicker on its first play.

Blaine took a handoff and pitched the ball back to Soma, who hit Danny Smith deep for 41-yard touchdown.

North Pocono again took over in Dallas territory after a punt.

Blaine ran 21 yards on the second play and Soma ran 23 for a touchdown on the third.

By combining Jordan Carr’s deep kickoffs with some big plays defensively, North Pocono enjoyed the field position advantage throughout. Of North Pocono’s nine possessions, three started in Dallas territory, one at midfield and one at the Trojans 26. Dallas began one drive in North Pocono territory and the other seven between its 20 and 27.

Bolesta’s 3-yard run and Eisley’s 13-yarder made it a 20-7 game after one quarter.

Dallas moved 80 yards, with Wydra going 4-for-4 for 48 yards, to get within a score for the last time at 20-14 on Bolesta’s 1-yard run.

North Pocono then switched gears, grinding Dallas down with a drive that covered 78 yards in 14 plays and 7:37. Eisley scored from the 2 after Soma converted a fourth-and-seven and third-and-four with his runs.

Soma ran for first downs a dozen times in the game while Blaine ran for eight.

The Trojans added to their 27-14 halftime lead by taking the second-half kickoff and moving 68 yards in 9 running plays while using 7:05. Blaine went off the right side, then cut back toward the middle for a 15-yard touchdown.

For the third time in the game, Dallas answered a North Pocono score with its own score, but the Mountaineers never put two together.

Bolesta’s touchdown made it 34-20 going to the fourth.

North Pocono had a Blaine touchdown called back by a holding penalty in the last minute of the third quarter, but kept pressing, Carr’s field goal attempt was blocked by Dallas, but that was also wiped out by penalty, for roughing the snapper.

The Trojans made the most of their extra chance, scoring on Eisley’s 4-yard run.

Dallas put together a 17-play, 74-yard scoring drive, but by then did not have time for 17-play drives.

Wydra’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Joe Peters with 59 seconds left served only to cut into the final margin and the Mountaineers did not even bother with an on-side kick attempt.

Zach Hoover had six tackles and three assists for North Pocono, which got four tackles and four assists each from Eisley and Ty LaFave.

Jake DelGaudio led the defense for Dallas with 10 tackles and three assists.

The Mountaineers, who earned the semifinal home game as the district’s second seed, had a six-game winning streak broken and finished 8-3.

PHOTO CREDIT: Korry Eisley (1), Mike Blaine (2) and Will Soma (12) lead North Pocono on to the field at a game earlier this season. They combined to rush for 339 yards and 5 touchdowns in a District 2 semifinal victory over Dallas. (Tim Drewes Photo)


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