Hounds explode past Apollo-Ridge
Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said before the WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game against Monessen that the Greyhounds had so many skilled players for his Vikings to worry about.
And Friday night at Charleroi Stadium, Monessen coach Andy Pacak unleashed that skill on the Vikings as Monessen rolled to a dominating 48-19 win.
“They just have so many weapons, it's hard to contain them all,” Skiba said afterward. “I mean, that's a really good football team they have there.”
The Greyhounds (9-1) scored on five of their seven first half possessions en route to taking a commanding 35-12 lead, and they never looked back against the Vikings (6-4).
Chavas Rawlins completed seven of his first 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the first half and rushed for three touchdowns in the game. He ended the night hitting 11 of 27 passes for 174 yards, with Irvin Green catching three passes for 73 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown.
Clintell Gillaspie carried the ball 14 times for 129 yards and a touchdown and teammate Keith Davis had 86 yards rushing on 10 carries and added a touchdown.
“I was really pleased with how we came out, especially offensively,” said Pacak. “That's how you want to come out of the gate.”
The Greyhounds actually didn't just come out of the gate, they flew through it.
On the first play of the game, Rawlins hit Green with a 40-yard fly pattern to the A-R 25, and two plays later Rawlins skirted right end 13 yards to put Monessen on top, 6-0, less than two minutes into the game.
The Vikings answered with a 54-yard drive that culminated with a fine 13-yard catch in the end zone by Tre Tipton on a pass from Jesse Zelonka on a fourth-and-three play.
The Greyhounds took the lead for good later in the first quarter when Rawlins teamed up with Green from 15 yards out and then hit Gillaspie for the two-pointer to make it 14-6.
A turning point came on the kickoff as Alex Piccarelli's line drive hit one of A-R's front linemen and the Greyhounds recovered near midfield.
Rawlins immediately hit Green for 23 yards and later connected with Gillaspie for 13 yards to the Vikings' 2-yard line. Justice Rawlins scored to make it 21-6 on the final play of the first quarter.
“That kickoff hurt us, but really, they just had too many weapons and we are such a young team,” Skiba said. “I'm not sure it made that much of a difference.”
A-R closed the gap to 21-12 on an 80-yard scoring pass from Zelonka to Tipton, who caught 5 passes for 155 yards.
However, Monessen wasn't deterred as the Greyhounds tacked on two scores of their own on 1-yard plunges by Chavas Rawlins and Davis before halftime to make it 35-12.
In the second half, Justice Rawlins picked off Zelonka on the first offensive play and the Greyhounds turned that into a 9-play, 40-yard drive culminated by Chavas Rawlins' third touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run to make it 41-12.
A 1-yard plunge by Gillaspie with 9:39 left in the game put Monessen ahead 48-12 and kicked in the mercy rule.
The Vikings added a score on a 27-yard pass from Zelonka to Alex Smith, but it was too little, too late.
“I'm happy with what we did tonight, but we got a couple of kids nicked up and we don't have the numbers to deal with that, but we will see how they are next week,” Pacak said.
The Monessen coach said there was no doubt that the rugged schedule the Greyhounds played in the regular season played a role in the first round blowout.
“We had a lot of close, hard-fought games during the season,” Pacak said. “Guaranteed that helped us tonight.”
NOTES: Shyheim Windom had two sacks for Monessen ... Chavas Rawlins had 41 yards rushing on eight carries to go with his three touchdowns ... Monessen had 290 yards in the first half, including 159 passing ... Zelonka ended the night with 182 yards passing, hitting 8 of 19. He also rushed for 98 yards on 12 carries ... Monessen will meet Neshannock, a 42-14 winner over Jefferson-Morgan, in the quarterfinals.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.