MIDDLETOWN — He enjoyed a breakout 165-yard performance the previous week, but players then kept getting in Middletown running back Kadin Fisher’s ear, imploring him to push for more.
“The team was telling me, ‘Don’t be that running back who only rushes for 150 versus Brunswick. Keep getting better every week, don’t stop, and keep it going,’” Fisher said Friday.
Fisher indeed kept it going, rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries as the Knights beat Walkersville 37-7 to finish their regular season on a six-game winning streak.
And it may have been Fisher’s best performance to date considering the Lions boast one of the area’s stingiest run defenses. The junior’s emergence is emblematic of a Knights team that never rested on its laurels when its winning streak began on Sept. 27.
Back then, Middletown (7-2) was relying heavily on the right arm of senior quarterback Reese Poffenbarger and a stout defense of its own. But the Knights then started establishing Poffenbarger as a running threat to slow down opposing defenses intent on applying pressure in the pocket, and as the their offensive line developed some cohesion, Fisher has started to thrive.
Also, Middletown’s special teams have started to make an impact, particularly on its punt and field-goal block units. Now the Knights carry plenty of momentum into the first round of the playoffs, and they will host a Class 2A West region quarterfinal next week.
“We always try to get better each week,” Fisher said. “Nothing is going to slow us down. Our saying is, ‘All gas, no brakes,’ because we just want to keep in going.”
Poffenbarger finished 11-of-17 for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and he also rushed for 46 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown run. But Fisher’s success on the ground helped open up play-action opportunities, as one run fake led to Poffenbarger finding tight end Colby Doreen wide open on a post pattern for a 30-yard gain that helped set up a Brian Walker touchdown reception that gave Middletown a 27-0 lead early in the third quarter.
Then the Knights imposed their will on their next drive, marching 84 yards on 12 plays as Paul McHugh hit a 20-yard field goal. During the drive, Fisher had four carries of 10 yards or more.
“That opens up all our offense — just running the ball, running the ball,” lineman Zach Brady said. “It demoralizes a team.”
Brady also played a role in demoralizing the Lions as a defensive lineman.
Despite scoring just seven points, Walkersville (6-3) sustained four long drives, but three of them stalled inside the Knights’ 40-yard line. In the second quarter, Jake Saylor replaced Andrew Stroka at quarterback, and Saylor connected with Jeremiah Franklin and Jake Hess on 33- and 25-yard passes that set up the Lions at Middletown’s 5 in the closing seconds of the first half. Timing the snap count perfectly, Brady burst through the middle of the line, forced a fumble by sacking Saylor and then pounced on the ball as time expired in the half.
In the third quarter, Saylor hit Brett Ahalt for a 51-yard reception, but on fourth-and-9, Brady dragged down running back Josiah Jones for a 1-yard loss.
“We did a good job early,” Lions coach Joe Polce said. “Unfortunately, we had a couple turnovers, [and] they capitalized.”