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Mars beats Hampton for Greater Allegheny title

| Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, 10:00 p.m.
Mars' Alex Smith and Chris Smith (6) break up a third-quarter pass intended for Hampton's Colin Luther on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, at Hampton. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Josh Schultheis rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries and threw for another score as Mars defeated host Hampton, 25-10, to capture the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference championship Friday night at Fridley Field.

Schultheis, a sophomore who weighs 225 pounds, rumbled for two short touchdowns before connecting with Garrett Ashbaugh for a 22-yard scoring pass for Mars (8-1, 7-1). Ashbaugh also caught a 50-yard TD from Owen Nearhoof, who atoned for two interceptions to put Mars on top, 13-3, in the third quarter.

“I knew it was going to be a slugfest,” Mars coach Scott Heinauer said. “We came out in the second half and wanted to move the football. Our kids wanted the game.”

Hampton (7-2, 6-2) received another strong showing from senior quarterback Jon Nigro, who threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jon Floss to pull the Talbots within 13-10.

The Talbots had two chances to tie the score or take the lead, but Schultheis' second short touchdown run, this one from the 3-yard line, and his surprise pass late in the fourth ended any comeback.

“I am really proud of our team,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “They got us a home game and a No. 2 seed in the playoffs. It is the start of a new season.”

The teams played a tight first half that ended with Mars leading, 7-3. Anthony Bianco's interception of a Nearhoof pass pushed Hampton within striking distance at the Mars 25-yard line, but Ashbaugh took the momentum when he picked off Nigro a few plays later.

The Planets then turned to their running game. Schultheis capped a methodical, run-only drive with a 2-yard carry to put the Planets up, 7-0. The nine-play, 72-yard surge took nearly seven minutes.

Nigro's 30-yard pass to Eddie Edwards and Frank Bello's 19-yard run to the goal line put the Talbots within inches of a score, but a high snap resulted in a 15-yard loss, and Hampton settled for Nigro's 25-yard field goal to make it a four-point game.

Brian Duermeyer is a freelance writer.

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