McKeesport topples Hempfield in Smith's return to sideline
TribLIVE Sports Videos
McKeesport gave usually stoic coach George Smith something to smile about Friday night in his return to the Tigers' sideline after a three-year absence.
Mikell Moore rushed for 161 yards, and Seanlou Gilmore added 103 as visiting McKeesport beat Hempfield, 24-10, in a WPIAL Quad East Conference opener, avenging a stinging home loss last year.
It was the 198th career victory for Smith, who began his second stint with McKeesport and 29th season overall.
“We're not there yet,” Smith said, “but if we keep at it, we're hoping we can get there. They did OK tonight. They listened and didn't complain.”
Quarterback David Queen scored twice, and Moore added another touchdown for McKeesport (1-0, 1-0), which returned to running Smith's trademark option flexbone offense that had made his programs so successful over the years.
McKeesport, which attempted just four passes, won PIAA titles under Smith in 1994 and 2005 and became playoff threats almost on an annual basis. With Smith out of the picture, the Tigers were eliminated from the WPIAL postseason in the first round each of the past three years.
“We didn't run the offense very well tonight. We had to get away from the triple option,” Smith said. “Back to the drawing board until we get it right.”
The Tigers apparently did something right but were fortunate to escape with a seemingly easy victory. Joey DeFloria rushed for 102 yards and returned a kickoff 77 yards for Hempfield (0-1, 0-1), but he also had two second-half touchdowns nullified by penalties.
“That was tough for us to recover from,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “We were right there, but now, we've got to move on from this and look toward next week.”
McKeesport led, 14-7, at the break, and neither team scored in the third quarter. DeFloria's 36-yard touchdown pass from Ty George was called back because of a personal foul, and his 53-yard run was wiped out by a holding call, leading to John Domit's 26-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, pulling Hempfield within 14-10.
McKeesport later added a safety to increase the lead to 16-10, when George was called for intentional grounding while passing from the end zone.
“It was a great effort by our guys in the second half,” Bowen said. “We made some nice adjustments at halftime.”
Queen's 1-yard touchdown run gave McKeesport a 6-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter before DeFloria returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards as Hempfield took a 7-6 lead.
Queen, adapting in his first season leading McKeesport's complicated option offense, added an 11-yard score to put the Tigers ahead to stay, 14-7. The senior finished with 97 yards rushing and was 0-for-4 passing, all in the first half.
After Domit's field goal cut the Hempfield deficit to six points, Moore, who was among a number of players hampered by second-half cramps, iced the victory with a 15-yard TD run with 4:14 remaining.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
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.