Selinsgrove’s Juvon Batts touchdown runs Seal the victory over Greater Johnstown
Written by: Billy Splain on Saturday, November 28th, 2015
by Matt Beltz
SHAMOKIN – Football teams always want to peak and be playing their best football toward the end of the season heading into the postseason. That is exactly what Greater Johnstown did this year. Despite finishing the regular season 5-5 and getting the No. 4 seed in the District 5/6/8/9 sub-regional, the Trojans upset the two top seeds in the region in Clearfield and Somerset to advance onto the first round of the state playoffs.
But the Trojans ran into an even hotter team on Friday and specifically a red hot player in Selinsgrove senior running back Juvon Batts, who ran for 276 yards and five touchdowns on an astounding 44 carries to lead the Seals to a 49-28 win over Greater Johnstown. Batts also broke the Selinsgrove career record for rushing yards in the process.
“Once you get out of districts, there’s no such thing as an easy game,” said Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks. “Johnstown, their record was a little deceiving, but that’s a good football team.”
The win moves the Seals (12-1) into the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2012, where they will face undefeated District 11 champion Saucon Valley, a 42-20 winner over District 2 champion Scranton Prep.
In what would be a microcosm of what the Trojans would be seeing all game, Batts ran the ball on six of nine plays, accounting for 40 yards, including a 13-yard scoring run, to get Selinsgrove on the board on its first drive of the game. It was an important drive for the Seals, as it answered a quick score by the Trojans.
“Juvon realizes it’s his senior year. He had a little bit of an ankle ding there but he fought through it and stepped up and did a great job,” said Hicks.
After receiving the opening kickoff, on just the second play from scrimmage, Bryce Gibson found a hole on the left side of the line and got free for a 66-yard touchdown run to put Greater Johnstown up 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
“That’s exactly what we wanted. We got the look that we wanted and got off to a good start,” said Johnstown coach Tony Penna.
Following Selinsgrove’s answer to tie the score, the Trojans appeared to be on the move again until a fumbled snap by quarterback Jeremy Updyke at the Johnstown 40 was recovered by Selinsgrove. That fumble was just the first of five on the night for the Trojans, and the first of two that were lost – something that was uncharacteristic of them.
“You can’t put the ball on the turf against a good team like that,” said Penna, Jr. “We had too many turnovers but I’m the one calling the plays so I take responsibility for that. I think Selinsgrove moving around a lot (on the line of scrimmage) might have bothered us a bit.
“My kids fought their tails off tonight and never quit against a good Selinsgrove team. We just dug ourselves too big of a hole and when we got into the red zone we couldn’t convert but that’s on me – I’ve got to get us in the end zone.”
Selinsgrove took immediate advantage of the short field as it needed just six plays and 1:30 to take the lead on a three-yard run by Batts. A 15-yard reception by Colin Hoke on the previous play set up the Seals.
Late in the first quarter, Johnstown took over possession with outstanding field position at its own 42 to start, and looked to be putting together another strong drive as the game turned to the second quarter, but on the second play of the quarter, another fumble, this one on a bad handoff, was again recovered by Selinsgrove. The Seals took over at their own 38 and this time put together a methodical nine-play drive that took 2:26 and was capped by another three-yard run by Batts to put Selinsgrove on top by two scores.
“I told our defense that they’re not going to see a better collection of athletes with their receivers and running backs,” said Hicks. “The middle of the game, they played real well. They fought and gave up some big plays so we’ll need to take a look at that and remedy that before next week.”
Johnstown was forced to punt on its next possession and Selinsgrove took over on its own 47. The first four plays were all Batts rushes, and they produced 20 yards. Two plays later, Selinsgrove quarterback Logan Leiby was flushed out of the pocket and rolled to his right to extend the play before finding Hoke in the end zone from 28 yards out to put the Seals on top 28-7.
Though it looked like Selinsgrove was running away with the game at this point, Johnstown answered with a long 14-play drive to cut the lead to 28-14 just before halftime. That drive included a pair of fourth down conversions, including a fourth-and-10 that produced the 10-yard touchdown pass from Updyke to Tavis Price in the front right corner of the end zone.
Batts’ fourth touchdown of the evening capped an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive on Selinsgrove’s first possession of the second half.
“Batts is as advertised,” said Penna. “He’s a special player and able to make people miss. He’s their all-time leading rusher for a reason.”
Johnstown appeared to be on the doorstep of answering right back as a long 67-yard reception by Justin Rowe eventually set the Trojans up at the Selinsgrove 13. But on a second down play, Joey Radel made a leaping interception from his linebacker position to squash that potential score.
The Seals were forced to punt and Johnstown again marched the ball right back into the red zone but were stuffed on a fourth down run by Updyke. A unsportsmanlike penalty on Updyke following him being stopped on fourth down gave Selinsgrove a 15-yard head start on its ensuing drive and on just the third play of the drive, Batts got loose again for a 57-yard touchdown run to put the Seals up 42-14 with :42 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans would not let up, however, and they scored on their next two drives to cut the lead to two posssessions. Gibson, who finished the game with 184 yards rushing on 17 carries, found another massive hole and turned it into a 42-yard touchdown run to add to his one from 66 earlier in the contest.
Selinsgrove pinned Johnstown back at its own 7-yard line with a punt, but the Trojans marched 93 yards down the field, converting another fourth-and-10 play on the way, en route to a Updyke three-yard touchdown.
“I talked to the guys when we were up by three touchdowns there and I told them that this offense, as explosive as they are, with still 11 minutes left in the game, I told them it’s not over,” said Hicks. “Credit to our offensive line, though, when we needed a drive to run the clock down, we put one together.”
From there, however, Selinsgrove was able to burn most of the 7:15 remaining on the clock with a 14-play drive that ended by turning it over on downs at the Johnstown 17 with just :17 left. On the first play from scrimmage, Jack Gaugler picked off Updyke for the Seals’ fourth takeaway and returned it 22 yards for the touchdown to put the cap on it.
Selinsgrove 49, Greater Johnstown 28
Greater Johnstown (7-6) 7 7 0 14 – 28
Selinsgrove (12-1) 14 14 14 7 – 49
11:09 – (GJ) Bryce Gibson 66-yard run (Mike Marino kick), 2-75, :44
7:36 – (S) Juvon Batts 13-yard run (Joey Radel kick), 9-64, 3:33
4:54 – (S) Juvon Batts 3-yard run (Joey Radel kick), 6-40, 1:30
8:55 – (S) Juvon Batts 3-yard run (Joey Radel kick), 9-62, 2:26
4:33 – (S) Colin Hoke 28-yard pass from Logan Leiby (Joey Radel kick), 6-53, 2:36
:15 – (GJ) Tavis Price 10-yard pass from Jeremy Updyke (Mike Marino kick), 14-82, 4:18
7:51 – (S) Juvon Batts 3-yard run (Joey Radel kick), 11-65, 4:09
:42 – (S) Juvon Batts 57-yard run (Joey Radel kick), 3-68, 1:02
11:52 – (GJ) Bryce Gibson 42-yard run (Mike Marino kick), 3-70, :50
7:15 – (GJ) Jeremy Updyke 3-yard run (Mike Marino kick), 11-93, 2:15
:07 – (S) Jack Gaugler 22-yard interception return (Joey Radel kick)
First downs 19 29
Rushes-net yards 30-175 65-363
Passing yardage 322 90
Passing 18-29-1-2 7-9-1-0
Fumbles-lost 5-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 12-75 10-83
RUSHING: Greater Johnstown: Bryce Gibson (17-184-2), Jeremy Updyke (6-(-10)-1), Terrell Jones (5-7), Tavis Price (1-5), TEAM (1-(-11)); Selinsgrove: Juvon Batts (44-276-5), Ethan Trautman (15-89), Angelo Martin (3-14), Logan Leiby (3-(-16))
PASSING: Greater Johnstown: Jeremy Updyke (18-29-322-1-2); Selinsgrove: Logan Leiby (7-9-90-1-0)
RECEIVING: Greater Johnstown: Tavis Price (6-93-1), Exree Loe (5-82), Elijah Brehm (4-64), Justin Rowe (1-67), Theo Tinsley (1-16), Ameer Connor (1-0); Selinsgrove: Colin Hoke (3-41-1), Ethan Trautman (3-36), Joey Radel (1-13)
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