Hempfield stays alive in playoff race
It sounded like a lame excuse, but it was far from it.
First-year Hempfield coach Rich Bowen couldn't have said it better after his Spartans pulled away from Norwin in the second half for a 42-8 victory on Friday night, keeping alive their WPIAL playoff hopes in the Quad East Conference.
“It's been a long, hard couple of weeks with all the injuries,” a jubilant Bowen said.
Playing for much of the season without a host of key players, including top running backs Joey DeFloria (broken arm) and Skyler Carkuff (knee), Hempfield's promising start had gone sour. The Spartans entered the Norwin game losers in four of their previous five games after a 2-0 start.
De'Lorian Day rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns and passed for another, and D.J. Gearhart added 119 yards and one score as Hempfield (4-4, 4-3) wore down Norwin (1-7, 1-7), which dropped its fourth consecutive decision.
Hempfield ended a three-game skid.
Ty George threw one touchdown pass to Tyler Handlan, a 28-yarder in the third quarter that gave Hempfield a 21-8 lead after Norwin closed the gap to 14-8 on a 25-yard touchdown run by Casey Rebosky.
“Give that team some credit. They made us work,” Bowen said. “Norwin is getting better. It doesn't show in the results, but they're young and we were in the game there in the first half.”
Hempfield led just 14-2 at the break after George Day with Handlan on a 15-yard scoring pass in the first quarter and Day rushed 22 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. In between, Norwin scored on a safety after pinning Hempfield on its 1 by downing a punt near the goal line.
George's TD pass to Handlan early in the third quarter began a spree of 28 unanswered points for Hempfield, which closes out the regular season at home on Friday night against Class AAAA No. 10 Penn-Trafford.
Touchdown runs by Day from the quarterback position of 4 yards in the third quarter and 41 yards in the fourth increased the Hempfield lead to 35-8 before Gearhart capped the night with a 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth.
“I was pleased with the way DeLorian Day and Ty George played, rotating at quarterback,” Bowen said. “I'm proud of everyone on this team for how they've carried on. We could've folded up the tents, but these games mean something and I just think our guys have overcome a lot of adversity.”
Hempfield survived a rough start when penalties plagued the Spartans, who were whistled nine times for 86 yards before halftime.
Before the game, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., presented a flag to the family and school in honor of Lt. Col. Christopher “Otis” Raible, the marine and former Norwin player who was killed in action in Afghanistan in September.
He was buried at Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-5617.