MUNCY -- After ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak that included a disappointing defeat at Montrose last week, Northwest took full advantage of its postseason opportunity.
The Rangers rode the running of Tony Politz and a defense that produced eight quarterback sacks in a 42-21 win over Muncy.
With the victory, Northwest (6-5) advances to the Eastern Conference Class A championship game against Schuylkill Haven next week.
I'll tell you, and we've been saying it all year long, it depends which team shows up on Friday night with these kids, Northwest coach Carl Majer said. We play a lot of young guys, and (Friday) night they came back from adversity last week where we played very flat. We got beat up last week. Then we come and play a great football game like tonight with a great team effort. If (the kids) want to play football, they can. They need to get over that hump of playing football and playing four quarters for us.
Northwest made it clear from the first series of the night that things would be different from the last three games. On Muncy's second play, Alex Barretts sacked Austin Barberio for a 9-yard loss. It was just the beginning of a huge night for Barretts, who racked up five sacks.
Last week was so disappointing, Barretts said of the 19-7 loss at Montrose. But to get that call on Saturday morning saying that we had another game really brought new life to us. I'm just looking towards next week now.
Much like Northwest's second defensive snap produced a big play, so did its second offensive snap. Tony Politz took a handoff and rumbled over a Muncy defender on his way to a 55-yard touchdown off down the left side. Politz was the workhorse yet again for the Rangers, carrying 29 times for 196 yards and three touchdowns.
Muncy (7-4) was quick to try and answer the Rangers touchdown by putting together an impressive downfield march late in the first quarter. But a critical false start penalty moved the ball back from the 1 to the 6-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-goal, Barberio rolled right and tried to run it in but was forced out a yard shy of the end zone.
Matt Mitchell had the first of Northwest's four interceptions midway through the second quarter, setting up the Rangers with a short field. Politz carried it in two plays later, hitting pay dirt with a 12-yard run.
With Muncy driving in the closing minutes of the first half, Allen Gulbierz stepped in front of slant pattern and returned the interception 66 yards to the Indians' 11. The turnover was cashed in for points when Logan Womelsdorf found Tyler Meininger wide open in the left corner of the end zone, making it 20-0.
Muncy needed just two plays to get on the board before halftime. Eli Warnick hauled in a 15-yard scoring strike from Barberio to cut the deficit to 20-7.
Northwest's offense continued to generate yards on the ground in the second half. After a drive was kept alive by a pass interference penalty on a fourth-down play, Adam Schechterly scored on a 1-yard run.
Muncy was able to use its passing to keep things interesting as Ken Koch scored on a 13-yard reception. But Northwest put another nail in the coffin when Politz took an option pitch and scored on a 7-yard run with just over seven minutes left.
Tony Politz is a great runner, Majer said. You think you have him, and then all of a sudden he squeaks out and breaks it. He has great quickness and he gets yardage when he isn't supposed to get yardage. He's been doing that for the last two years. Hopefully he can get it going next week.
NW --Tony Politz 55 run (Tyler Pegarella kick) 9:45
NW --Politz 12 run (Pegarella kick) 5:59
NW --Tyler Meininger 11 pass from Logan Womelsdorf (kick failed) :26
M --Eli Warnick 15 pass from Anthony Barberio (Alyssa Heitman kick) :05
NW --Adam Schechterly 1 run (Meininger pass from Marcus Welliver) 2:41
M --Ken Koch 13 pass from Barberio (Joe Titman kick) :24
NW --Politz 7 run (Pegarella kick) 7:03
M --Koch 62 pass from Barberio (Heitman kick) 6:18
NW --Austin Mazonkey 44 run (Pegarella kick) :56
RUSHING – NW, Tony Politz 29-196, 3TD; Austin Mazonkey 13-70, TD; Adam Schechterly 6-46, TD: Marcus Welliver 1-3; Logan Womelsdorf 2-(-3); Team 1-(-1). MUN, Troy Hembury 16-81; Jeff Scott 2-8; T.J. Moyler 1-3; Teddy Clark 1-2; Anthony Barberio 11-(-50).
PASSING – NW, Womelsdorf 2-3-0, 17 yds., TD; Welliver 0-1-0. MUN, Barberio 11-20-4, 255 yds., 3TD.
RECEIVING – NW, Tyler Meininger 1-11, TD; Eric Gurzynski 1-6. MUN, Ken Koch 8-184, 2TD; Hembury 1-44; Eli Warnick 1-15, TD; Clark 0-9; Scott 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS – NW, Pegarella 2-40, Gulbierz 1-66, Mitchell 1-6