No. 3 Mt. Pleasant stops No. 9 GCC
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It wasn't the prettiest win for Mt. Pleasant on Friday night.
But when you turn the ball over three times and beat rival Greensburg Central Catholic, 19-3, in a WPIAL Class AA Interstate Conference game at home, Vikings coach Bo Ruffner wasn't complaining.
The No. 3 Vikings (2-0, 2-0) used a couple of big plays and strong defense to defeat the No. 9 Centurions (0-2, 0-2).
The loss was costly for GCC, who may have lost senior quarterback Chase Keller for the season with an injury to his left shoulder. The injury occurred late in the second quarter when he intercepted a pass and landed hard.
“The freaky thing about it was it came off an interception,” GCC coach Dan Mahoney said. “Losing Chase takes some special things out of our offense and defense.”
In the first half, Luke Liprando blocked Nate Stone's 30-yard field goal attempt and Nathan Pieszak picked up the football and raced 82 yards for a Mt. Pleasant touchdown.
Later, Stone nailed a 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter to cut the Mt. Pleasant lead to 7-3.
Until that point, Greensburg Central Catholic ran 26 plays to Mt. Pleasant's three and outgained the Vikings, 140-6.
“There were a couple big swings in the game,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “The first was the blocked field goal for a touchdown. We had good pressure up the middle by Luke, and the other was late in the first half when we hit the touchdown pass.”
The Vikings' offense started moving the ball better in the second quarter. They moved to GCC's 45, but quarterback Ryan Gumbita was intercepted by Keller.
That ended Keller's night.
“When he went out, we couldn't afford to let down,” Mt. Pleasant tackle Jesse Leonard said. “When they were moving the ball early, I knew we'd find a way to stop them.”
Mt. Pleasant played without two-tackle Eric Klejka, who was ejected from last week's game and was forced to sit out this week's game according to PIAA rules.
Leonard said James Smail and Adam Golkosky did a great job in his place.
The next time Mt. Pleasant got the ball, Gumbita hooked up on a 37-yard scoring strike to Trevor Salopek for a 13-3 lead at halftime.
Mt. Pleasant then made it 19-3 on its first possession of the third quarter, putting together 15-play, 80-yard drive that Tyler Mellors capped with a 1-yard plunge. Mellors finished with 97 yards on 20 carries.
The Vikings turned the ball over on their next two possessions, but GCC couldn't capitalize.
Mt. Pleasant outrushed GCC, 236-145, and outgained them, 287-204. Ryan Ballew rushed for 71 yards to back Mellors' effort.
Keller rushed for 63 yards and completed 2 of 9 passes for 21 yards before leaving the game. GCC managed only 64 yards after Keller departed.
“We turned the ball over last few drives, but those are things we can correct,” Ruffner said. “We're happy with the victory, excited about being 2-0, but we're definitely not satisfied. We know there are a lot bigger and better things ahead for us.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.
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