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Big-play Hempfield races past Connellsville

| Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 11:15 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield punt returner Joey DeFloria crosses into the end zone on a long punt return for a touchdown against Connellsville during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's DeLorian Day (22) celebrates with Ian Lewandowski (75) after he returned a Connellsville fumble for a touchdown during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Max Adams tackles Connellsville running back Christopher Russell (32) near the goal line during the second quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Dylan Knopsnider (21) hauls in a pass in front of Hempfield defenders Nathan Fleck (55) and Ben McCoy (32) during the second quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield running back Joey DeFloria (23) prepares to stiff-arm Connellsville defenders Josh Cree (28) and Michael Parlak (8) on a run during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield defenders Lorenzo Barchetti (left) and Joey Hoffner tackle Connellsville's Dylan Knopsnider (21) during the second quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Joey Hoffner dives into the end zone to score a touchdown against Connellsville during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Connellsville running back Christopher Russell (32) dives for extra yardage as Hempfield defenders Ian Lewandowski (75) and Nathan Fleck (55) pursue during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield running back Joey DeFloria breaks away from Connellsville defenders to score a second-quarter touchdown during their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Connellsville quarterback Jade Maher throws a third-quarter touchdown to wide receiver Michael Parlak during their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Connellsville running back Christopher Russell breaks into the open field against Hempfield during the fourth quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Ross Welshons (right) forces a fumble by Connellsville running back Christopher Russell in the fourth quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield running back Joey DeFloria (23) eludes Connellsville's Josh Cree (28) during the fourth quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Fort Allen.

Big plays were the name of the game, and Hempfield made plenty of them in Friday's Quad East clash with visiting Connellsville.

The Spartans jumped to a 21-point first-quarter lead by scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in a 42-28 victory over the Falcons.

“We had a great start to the game,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “But give Connellsville credit. They played an excellent game.”

Hempfield (2-1, 2-1) wasted little time as Joey Hoffner hauled in an 11-yard touchdown strike from Ty George on the Spartans' first possession of the game. Then, just four plays later, Joey DeFloria started his big night by returning a punt 60 yards for a score.

In addition to his punt return, DeFloria also had touchdown runs of 70 and 72 yards. He finished with 262 yards on 26 carries.

“Joey is a great football player and an even better kid,” Bowen said. “He can score from anywhere and he made some big plays.”

Leading 14-0, Hempfield's DeLorian Day picked up a fumble and returned it 28 yards for the score.

“The bottom line is we were down 21-0, and I saw a lot of kids that have been down this road before,” Connellsville coach Dave McDonald said. “We showed a lot of character and a lot of heart.”

The Falcons (0-3, 0-3), despite their early struggles, continued to battle. Connellsville's Jade Maher scored on a 45-yard run to get the Falcons on the board in the second quarter.

After George scored from 1 yard out for Hempfield, the Falcons answered when Jimmy DeMarco grabbed a 3-yard scoring strike from Maher to make it 27-14.

Maher completed 24 of 36 passes for 228 yards. His top target was Darrell Ross, who had 15 receptions for 155 yards.

But just before the half ended, DeFloria scored on a 70-yard run to make it 35-14.

“We couldn't tackle him,” McDonald said. “He broke our backs a couple of times. He is a special player.”

In the third quarter, Connellsville made it 35-20 when Michael Parlak caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Maher. Then in the fourth, Connellsville cut the deficit to 35-28 on a 10-yard run by Christopher Russell, who finished with 166 yards on 26 carries.

But DeFloria iced it with his 72-yard fourth-quarter score.

For the Spartans, it was an important conference victory.

“We're 2-1 headed out for two key road games,” Bowen said. “We know we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Falcons also plan to continue working.

“We saw some guys step up and I'm proud of my team,” McDonald said. “We'll get back to grinding on Monday.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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