ALVERTON -- The turning point in Southmoreland's 48-25 Interstate Conference win over Carmichaels on Friday came on the Scotties' touchdown with 39 seconds left in the first half and their 61-yard scoring drive to open the second half.
That took them from a 17-14 deficit to the Mighty Mikes to a 27-17 lead, and put the hosts well in command for their third straight win to open the season.
But Carmichaels (1-1, 1-1) did not go quietly into the night.
The Mighty Mikes drove 75 yards after the opening kickoff in eight plays, and three Southmoreland penalties to score on Bailey Jones' 20-yard scoring run to put the Scotties behind for the first time this season.
Southmoreland (2-0, 3-0) responded with drives of 80 yards and 73 yards, capped by a 3-yard run by Colt Harper and a 30-yard touchdown pass from Zach Cernuto to Riley Comforti. The Cernuto to Comforti duo was a lethal combination, which featured three receptions for a combined 76 yards in the two drives.
But, Carmichaels answered with a 12-play touchdown drive, led by quarterback Kevin Kelly with 50 combined running and passing yards to tie the game.
That was followed by a 14-play drive capped by Michael Robison's 21-yard field goal for a 17-14 edge.
But that left 2:13 on the clock, and the Scotties took advantage with a 61-yard drive in eight plays, that included five pass completions, four from Cernuto to Comforti for a combined 52 yards that included a 14-yard catch in the back corner of the end zone with 39 seconds left in the half. A bad conversion snap resulted in the only miss of the night by place kicker Andrew Rodriguez for a 20-14 edge.
Southmoreland drove 58 yards in seven plays after the third quarter kickoff, capped by a 5-yard scoring pass from Cernuto to Isaac Trout.
"That was big!," Southmoreland coach Dave Keefer said on the second half's opening drive. "We knew we'd get the ball and we knew we had to score on that first drive. We wanted to set the tone and get stops (on defense). We made adjustments at the half and they seemed to pay off for us."
The Scotties were driving on the next possession when Michael Stewart intercepted Cernuto's pass into the end zone, two plays after Cernuto's 16-yard scoring run was wiped out by an illegal block penalty.
Comforti returned the favor when he picked off a pass by Kelly and returned it 31 yards to the Carmichaels' 29-yard line. That set up Harper's 25-yard scoring run to build a 34-17 lead.
But, Carmichaels still had some fight left as Robison returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to the Southmoreland 22 to set up Kelly's one-yard scoring run four plays later to cut the lead to 34-25.
The Scotties answered with Harper's 20-yard scoring run on the next drive, and J.J. Bloom recovered a fumbled squib kick at the Mighty Mikes' 43-yard line, and Cernuto ran 14 yards to score five plays later to set the final score of 48-25.
Cernuto was 17-of-24 passing with three touchdowns and an interception. Comorti caught 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. The Mikes' Kelly led the way with 17 runs for 76 yards and two touchdowns and 7-of-12 passing for 127 yards and an interception.
Carmichaels coach Ryan Krull said his team isn't satisfied simply with improvement from last season.
"We know what the standard is here," Krull said. "The goal is to win the game, not just be happy to be in it. We're not here for the trophy."
Keefer credited Carmichaels with battling to the end. He also lauded the effort of sophomore Isaac Trout, "who ran and caught the ball. He had a really nice game."
He said Harper runs "like a battering ram and has the will to win."
The Scotties visit Beth Center next week, while Carmichaels will play McGuffey.
Carmichaels 7-10-0-8 -- 25
Southmoreland 14-6-14-14 -- 48
Car: Bailey Jones 20 run (Michael Robison kick), 8:20
S: Colt Harper 3 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 4:17
S: Riley Comforti 30 pass from Zach Cernuto (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 1:06
Car: Kevin Kelly 14 run (Michael Robison kick), 9:11
Car: Michael Robison 21 FG, 2:43
S: Riley Comforti 14 pass from Zach Cernuto (kick failed), :38
S: Isaac Trout 5 pass from Zach Cernuto (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 8:14
S: Colt Harper 25 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), :15
Car: Kevin Kelly 1 run (Bailey Jones run), 9:52
S: Colt Harper 20 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 5:51
S: Zach Cernuto 14 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 3:10
Records: Carmichaels (1-1, 1-1), Southmoreland (2-0, 3-0)