WEST SUNBURY — After the Chucks matched the Moniteau Warriors' first scoring drive with one of their own, Moniteau's defense answered the bell and shut out the Chucks for the rest of the first half, while the Warriors' offense scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. The Warriors went on to win the game 45-6.
"I think as a group, as coaches and players, we're disappointed in our performance," Punxsy head coach Alan Nichol said after the game. "We just made a lot of mistakes, and we didn't do our jobs. We kind of look at it as one of those things we're going to have to make sure we improve in all areas. Moniteau's a good team, but we're better than that."
Moniteau opened the game with the ball and took less than two minutes to jump out to an 8-0 lead.
The drive started with a nice return by senior Robert Brehm, who ran the kick back near mid-field. The Warriors opened the game with three run plays by three different players — a two-yarder by fullback David Campbell, a five-yarder by tailback Dustin Geagan and a seven-yarder by quarterback Kyle Armagost that earned a first down.
On first-and-10, Armagost dropped back and hooked up with senior receiver Ethan Pry for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Armagost ran in the two-point conversion to set the lead at eight.
Punxsy benefitted from good field position of its own after senior running back Alex Fedigan returned the ensuing kickoff to the Chucks' 45-yard line.
Fedigan was stalled on first down, and after an incomplete pass by Zimmerman, the Chucks were facing third-and-long, but Zimmerman connected with sophomore wide receiver Clayton Dale for 13 yards and a first down.
Two plays later, Zimmer- man found Dale again near the 20-yard line, and thanks to a good down-field block by Alex Bevak, Dale was able to find the end zone.
Zimmerman attempted to roll out for a pass on the two-point conversion but was unable to find anyone. Zimmerman was stopped short of the goal line, keeping the score at 8-6.
Punxsy's defense made the big play it needed on the next drive after Moniteau picked up three first downs.
Armagost went under center for the first time in the game and fumbled the snap. Punxsy senior linebacker Hayden Muth emerged from the pile with the ball, and the Chucks' offense was back on the field at the 20-yard line.
The shift in momentum was short-lived, though, when the Chucks went three-and-out, ending with a six-yard sack by Moniteau's Andrew Armagost, and were forced to punt.
Zimmerman's punt sailed out of bounds at the Chucks' 29-yard line, giving Moniteau outstanding field position, and the Warriors took advantage.
Geagan opened the drive with a 17-yard run to the 12-yard line, and after Kyle Armagost picked up a first down on a fourth-and-inches from the two-yard line, he finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Another two-point conversion by Armagost pushed the lead to 16-6 early in the second quarter.
Punxsy's next drive was another three-and-out. Fedigan picked up two yards on first down, and Zimmerman connected with tight end Josh Neal, but Andrew Armagost came up with another sack on third down to force the punt.
The two teams exchanged turnovers on downs, but on Punxsy's punt Pry returned the ball to the Chucks' 25-yard line.
Geagan started the drive on the short field with an eight-yard run, and the Warriors picked up the first down on a 14-yard connection between Kyle Armagost and Joey Deal, which set up a first-and-goal from the three-yard line.
On the next play, Geagan ran up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run.
Another two-point conversion by Armagost gave the Warriors some breathing room at 24-6.
Punxsy's ensuing drive started on a high note with a nice return by Dale to the 32-yard line, but Zimmerman was sacked twice and threw an incomplete pass, forcing the Chucks to punt again.
After a five-yard false start penalty, Zimmerman was back to punt inside his own 10-yard line when Deal broke through the line and blocked the punt after a high snap.
The Warriors fell on it at the one-yard line and took only one play to punch it in for another one-yard Kyle Armagost touchdown run.
Geagan ran in the two-point conversion to give Moniteau a 32-6 lead with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the half.
Punxsy almost went three-and-out again after Fedigan gave the Chucks eight yards on two runs, but Moniteau stuffed the third-down attempt short of the sticks.
On the attempted punt, though, the Warriors were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the Chucks a first down.
Zimmerman connected with Fedigan for a three-yard pass, but on second-and-seven a Zimmerman pass fell incomplete as the clock expired on the first half.
Nichol was disappointed that Punxsy couldn't keep the momentum gained by answering the early touchdown score in the first quarter.
"We caught a little spark on that touchdown pass from Zimmerman to Dale," he said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to keep the momentum defensively."
Punxsy opened the second half with the ball, but were forced to punt after a three-and-out, and Moniteau cashed in on its first drive, going 55 yards on three plays. Geagan opened with a 35-yard run after a five-yard penalty on Moniteau, and finished the drive two plays later on a 25-yard touchdown run — his second of the night.
The two-point conversion failed, and the score was 38-6.
Punxsy put together its best drive after the first-quarter scoring drive on its next possession with the help of a Moniteau penalty on a fourth-and-20 punt when they roughed the kicker.
The biggest play was Caesar Maruca's kick return to the Warrior 40, but the Chucks' drive came up short, and a Zimmerman punt pinned Moniteau at its own three-yard line.
Moniteau went 97 yards in 12 plays for its final score of the game.
The Chucks forced Moniteau into a third-and-35 after Jacob Shiock blew up a play in the backfield for a nine-yard loss and the Warriors were called for a ten-yard hold, but Kyle Armagost connected with Brehm for a 43-yard first-down pass to keep the drive alive as the clock expired on the third quarter.
It looked like the Chucks might get a break on the second play of the quarter when Armagost fumbled the snap, but the tide turned when he picked the ball up, reversed field and ran for 22 yards before being pushed out of bounds.
Penalties bit the Warriors again after they earned a first-and-goal at the 10 but were pushed back with a 10-yard hold and a five-yard false start on successive plays.
On first-and-goal from the 25, though, Armagost ran a quarterback keeper and went the whole way to the end zone for the final score of the game.
Moniteau kicked its first extra point of the night, and the score was 45-6.
Armagost and Geagan each reached milestones on the final scoring drive with Armagost going over 1,000 yards passing for the season and Geagan reaching 1,000 rushing yards.
With the lead greater than 35 points, the running clock mercy rule took effect. Punxsy went three-and-out and punted away to Moniteau, which turned the ball over on downs with four minutes remaining in the game.
Punxsy's last attempt at a scoring drive ended when backup quarterback Matt Burkett attempted to run for a first down on fourth-and-13 but came up just short of moving the chains.
Moniteau kneeled on the ball twice, and the game was over.
Nichol said the field was sloppy, but his team wasn't making any excuses after the game.
"The field was a wreck, and I think overall, we have some guys playing positions they didn't start the year off in, but this time of year you've got to be solid," he said. "If you're not, the other team will take advantage, so we need to continue to work on those areas."
Despite the loss, though, Nichol said he is proud of the will to win he sees in his players as they head into their final three games of the season.
"We're down to a three-game season, now," he said. "These guys really desire to do well. That's what'll carry the day for us: Their spirit to play well and to win."
Moniteau's defense was stifling to the Chucks, allowing just 63 total yards offense — including -8 rushing yards after recording six sacks, which count towards the rushing total in high school football.
Armagost led Moniteau's ground-attack with 89 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns but was effective through the air, as well, throwing for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Punxsy's Zimmerman passed for 71 yards, coming up just 13 yards short of reaching the 1,000-yard milestone for the season, and senior receiver Luke Janocha, who would have needed 72 receiving yards to reach the 500-yard milestone for the season, didn't play for the Chucks Friday.
Punxsy returns home next week for Senior Night when the Chucks host Redbank Valley in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Jack LaMarca Stadium in Punxsutawney.