Kiski Area defense shuts out Altoona
Kiski Area's defense converted three Altoona turnovers into scores and held the Mountain Lions to 66 yards of offense en route to a 20-0 shutout at Davis Field.
Senior Joe Brungo picked off two Eli Mencer passes and scored a late touchdown to secure the Quad East Conference victory.
“Our defense won this game tonight,” Kiski Area coach Dave Heavner said.
“Their defense held our offense in check a little while. But when we needed a turnover, we got it. They had a fourth and one, and we stopped them. Our defense definitely was the star tonight.”
The Cavaliers (2-0, 2-0) now own a 3-1 lead in the all-time series.
In the first quarter, Cavaliers senior Brungo picked off a pass at the Mountain Lions' 41-yard-line and returned the ball to the 20.
Altoona (1-1, 1-1) held and major college kicking prospect Adam Mitcheson booted a 33-yard field goal.
Kiski Area then recovered an Altoona fumble when James Roundtree's hit on Mencer led to a Shane Kuhn fumble recovery.
Seven plays later on the opening play of the second quarter, Mitcheson tallied on a 38-yard field goal to put the Cavaliers in front, 6-0.
On the third play of the second half, Brungo's second interception at the Altoona 32 was returned to the 8.
“We focused on defense a lot at practice this week,” Brungo said. “Altoona came in thinking they had the tough defense, but we had to come in here and prove ourselves.”
On fourth down, Billy Johnson, who relieved starter Chad Kuhn for the series, burst over the goal line from inside the one for the game's first touchdown.
On the extra-point attempt, Mitcheson blasted the kick over the Davis Field pavilion, left over from the days when the facility was a minor league professional baseball facility.
“They're a great football team,” Altoona coach John Franco said. “You can't afford to give them three turnovers and set up three scores for them.”
Altoona never had the ball for more than eight plays on a drive. But the Mountain Lions' defense also kept the game close for more than three quarters.
Kiski Area's longest possession was also eight plays — a fourth quarter drive that culminated with a 7-yard pass from Chad Kuhn to Brungo on a slant just over the goal line for the final score.
“I said all week, when you play Altoona, you know it's going to be a physical football game,” Heavner said. “In the end, I think our will was the difference.”
With Altoona down just 6-0, a key play occurred on fourth down at the Cavaliers' 24. Roundtree and Shane Kuhn combined again to stop Kevin Givens for a third straight play, giving Kiski Area possession with 4:42 left in the half.
George Guido is a freelance writer.