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Peters Township ruins Justin Sliwoski's return to Hempfield lineup

| Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, 11:12 p.m.

After losing three games in a row, Hempfield got a jolt of energy with the return of senior quarterback Justin Sliwoski.

However, the Spartans were unable to upset Peters Township as the Indians won 23-15 in a Class 6A Southeastern Conference game at Peters Township Stadium.

Sliwoski, who missed the last three games with a shoulder injury, didn't get off to the start he imagined. He finished 21 of 37 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Sophomore Aidan McCall picked off Sliwoski the first play from scrimmage, which setup the Indians at midfield.

A couple plays later, freshman running Ryan Magiske, who finished with 95 yards rushing on 16 carries, ran up the right side for a 44-yard touchdown for the Indians (4-1, 2-1).

“They're a good football team,” Peters coach T.J. Plack said. “Their quarterback is very elusive. He keeps plays alive. It's hard to cover those guys for six or seven seconds. We were a little worried about them. They did a nice job defensively.”

The Spartans, who are struggling to find a run game, got their offense going two drives later. Senior tight end Braden Brose made a big third down conversion for the Spartans. However, a couple plays later, the Indians stuffed senior running back Colin Critchfield on a fourth-and-short on the Indians 27-yard line.

After not being able to capitalize on the Spartans (1-4, 0-3) turnover on downs, the Indians scored from 5 yards on a Magiske run.

On the drive, the Indians got their screen game going, including a 13-yard swing pass from senior quarterback Jake Cortes to sophomore running back Adrian Williams, who finished with 69 yards rushing on 14 carries, on third-and-long.

The short run by Magiske was preceded by a 27-yard pass from Cortes to senior wide receiver Conor Pederson.

“We just can't come out like we did in the first quarter and the second quarter and not play football and fall behind 14-0,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “We had our chances, and we just didn't get it done tonight.”

After being down 14-0 at halftime, the Spartans forced a Cortes fumble on the Indians' first drive of the second half. As Sliwoski rolled out to the right, he found Brose in the back of the end zone from 5 yards to close the Indians lead to a touchdown.

However, the Indians responded with their own score after Cortes, who was 7 of 14 for 109 yards passing, ran it in from 1 yard to extend Peters Township's lead to 20-7 with a little more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Hempfield wasn't able to return the favor to the Indians as junior Drew Gudenburr picked off Sliwoski for the second time.

“It was huge to keep that momentum. He didn't have a great game last week and came back today and had two interceptions,” said Plack. “These kids preserve. They are great ball players, and that helped us with momentum there with the interception.”

The Spartans scored a late touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Sliwoski to senior wide receiver Isaiah DiAndreth.

The ensuing drive, Hempfield forced Peters Township to punt, but the catch was muffed and denied Sliwoski one more crack at the end zone.

“Sitting at 1-4 is not pretty,” Bowen said. “But by no means are going to quit on the season. We got too much pride to do that, and we will get better.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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