Moments after Friday's win, South Western head coach Damian Poalucci pulled his Mustangs team together at midfield and congratulated them, as he does after every win, on being 1-0 at the end of the week.
That's not exactly true, his players corrected him. This week, the Mustangs were 2-0.
Coming off a win against Central York just four days ago, the Mustangs ran over, through and around Red Lion, totaling 386 rushing yards on 50 carries. Playing non such short rest, the Mustangs used a balanced attack: Six tailbacks carried the ball at least six times. The balanced, ground-and-pound method proved to be the winning formula as South Western won its fourth-straight game — 31-14 over Red Lion.
"Our line just dominated," Poalucci said. "I couldn't be more proud of those guys. Running the ball is an attitude, and you have to have that attitude. These guys have it. They enjoy blocking, and they enjoy being physical."
The action between two YAIAA Division I powerhouses was as good as advertised right from the start. Both defenses forced turnovers deep in their own territory in the first quarter. Noah Staub, whose birthday was Friday, intercepted Sam Emig when Red Lion was threatening to score.
"Oh, it was great," said Staub, who was serenaded "Happy Birthday" by his teammates after the game. "We wanted to get the win so bad. Mike Johnson stepped up big, the line did good, and we were firing on all cylinders."
After Staub's interception, Red Lion's defense forced a fumble on the ensuing drive. Two plays later, Alex Keough — who entered the game with a league-best 481 yards rushing — took a handoff at his own 8, bounced outside, and took off 92 yards down the sideline for a score.
The Mustangs responded on the next drive with five first downs and a Robby Harbison touchdown run from 10 yards out.
"Robby Harbison played his heart out," Poalucci said of his running back, who played his first game of the season Monday and appeared to re-injure his ankle early in the first quarter Friday. "For him to step in and play the way he did after getting banged up early, then come back and just pound away was huge."
With the Lions driving deep into South Western territory late in the second quarter, the stingy Mustangs defense forced another key turnover. After recovering an Alex Keough fumble, the Mustangs marched 90 yards in two minutes and ended the first half with a Wes Sneeringer 19-yard field goal.
Nigel Williams extended South Western's lead to 17-7 early in the third when he scored from 17 yards out on his first carry of the night.
Unlike Monday, when South Western let Central hang in the game, the Mustangs went for the knockout punch against Red Lion (3-3, 1-2). Two Miles Francis interceptions set up fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Brock Geiman and Zach Hughes, and the Mustangs (5-1, 3-0) went into the victory formation for the final two minutes of the game.
"Being 2-0 in a week is a little sweeter than 1-0," Poalucci joked. "Some of our guys were joking we should play again Tuesday, but let's get some rest."
The win pushed South Western to 3-0 in the division and set up a showdown with Dallastown next week at the Corral. The Wildcats remained unbeaten with Friday's 15-12 win against Northeastern.
"It's a confidence boost, but we have to keep going," Staub said of the division race. "Dallastown's a tough team and Northeastern isn't going to just lay down. We have to keep going."
South Western010714—31Red Lion7007—14
RL — Alex Keough 92 run (Sam Emig kick), 0:19.
SW — Robby Harbison 10 run (Wes Sneeringer kick), 7:38.
SW — Sneeringer 19 field goal, 0:01.
SW — Nigel Williams 17 run (Sneeringer kick), 7:10.
SW — Brock Geiman 1 run (Sneeringer kick), 9:31.
RL — James Jackson 61 pass from Emig (Emig kick), 9:16.
SW — Zach Hughes 3 run (Sneeringer kick), 4:27.
SWRLFirst downs1911Rushes-yards50-38626-177Passing5-1212-20-3Passing yards63166Total yards449343Punts3-382-42Fumbles-lost1-11-1Penalties-yards6-554-45
Rushing — SW, Robby Harbison 7-58, Tyler Fulmore 10-57, Nigel Williams 3-19, Brock Geiman 6-45, Mike Johnson 8-103, Jeff Green 3-53, Zach Hughes 6-20, Miles Francis 7-31. RL, Dylan Gurreri 12-46, Sam Emig 6-15, Alex Keough 7-113, Patrick Daugherty 1-3.
Passing — SW, Geiman 5-12-63. RL, Emig 12-20-166-3.
Receiving — SW, Noah Staub 2-22, Green 1-5, Matt Smolko 1-36, Francis 1-0. RL, Kendrick Boyd-Gillespie 3-45, James Jackson 5-92, Keough 2-8, Dillon Hildebrand 1-20, Cole Snyder 1-1.