Highlands beats Greensburg Salem, remains in playoff chase
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Highlands' playoff hopes were intensified Friday night, leaving coach Sam Albert amazed at his team's resiliency.
Sophomore Elijah Jackson rushed for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns to lead visiting Highlands over injury-stricken Greensburg Salem, 37-14, in an Allegheny Conference game, the Golden Rams' third consecutive victory after an 0-4 start.
“This is the best job my coaching staff has done since I've been here,” said Albert, in his 10th season at Highlands. “What I'm proud of most is that this team just goes about its business and never lets up. These guys come to practice — and we have only 30 of them — and they are diligent about what they do.”
Jackson carried 23 times and topped the 200-yard mark on his final carry, a 17-yard run that gave Highlands its 23-point margin of victory.
His 47-yard reception from Blake Leri set up Leri's 1-yard touchdown run earlier in the fourth quarter after Greensburg Salem had pulled within 24-14 on a 95-yard kickoff return by Dom McKinley.
Greensburg Salem wasted a chance to close the gap when it failed to score after recovering an onsides kick following McKinley's return.
The Golden Lions were without several key players, including freshman quarterback Daniel Walters, running back Tyler Shook and tight end Tanner Hahn.
“We had only six seniors that dressed tonight,” Greensburg Salem coach Casey Cavanaugh said. “We're very, very young.”
Highlands (3-4, 3-4), which has beaten Indiana, Derry and Greensburg Salem in succession to enter the WPIAL Class AAA playoff race, took a 3-0 lead on Mike Masarik's 30-yard field goal before Jackson gave the Golden Rams a 10-0 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Jackson was coming off a 151-yard rushing performance against Derry last week.
“It feels good because I've never run for this many yards before in a game,” said the 5-foot-7, 143-pound Jackson. “We came out tonight and really blocked, and we played well. We're ready to keep it going.”
Greensburg Salem cut the Highlands lead to 10-7 in the second quarter on Nate Sweeney's 11-yard reception from Denzell Jackson, who took over at quarterback in place of Walters (concussion-like symptoms).
Another 5-yard touchdown run by Elijah Jackson and a 1-yard plunge by Allan Cratsenberg put Highlands ahead, 24-7, and it looked as though the Golden Rams would run away from Greensburg Salem (1-6, 1-6), which lost its fourth game in a row.
But following Cratsenberg's touchdown, McKinley maneuvered his way through the Highlands defense for his long kickoff return, and Greensburg Salem then recovered an onsides kick, trailing 24-14.
“We're just trying to get this group to go out and compete with every snap,” Cavanaugh said.
Greensburg Salem was unable to sustain a drive and gave up possession, setting the stage for Leri's 1-yard run that stretched Highlands' lead to 30-14 midway through the fourth.
Highlands, which is 5-0 all-time against Greensburg Salem, kept pressure on Denzell Jackson all night. The Golden Rams' defense recorded 10 sacks, including four by Cratsenberg, who had 21 tackles.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WPIAL, coaches are still looking to schedule Week 9 rivalry games
- Gorman: A WPIAL playoff drought about to end
- Ford City, Kittanning matchup to be part of SI.com’s ‘Underdogs’
- Previewing some of Western Pa.’s top Week 9 matchups
- The Leader eager for Kittanning finale
- Heavyweights West Allegheny, Central Valley meet in test for Parkway
- Longtime rivals Kittanning, Ford City set for final act
- High school football notebook: WPIAL might welcome another team next year
- Leader Times Q&A: Redbank Valley’s Wyatt Hetrick
- Skiles has Bentworth headed in right direction
- Now in Class A, rivals GCC, Jeannette to battle for 2nd place in Eastern Conference