No. 3 Mt. Pleasant routs Southmoreland
One play may not have changed the outcome of Friday night's game between Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant, but a near-safety that instead wound up as first down symbolized where these two programs are three games into the season.
An experienced Mt. Pleasant squad turned folly into fortune often en route to a 38-0 Interstate victory over Southmoreland at Cal (Pa.).
No. 3 Mt. Pleasant (3-0, 3-0) returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns, and senior quarterback Ryan Gumbita had a hand in three scores.
Senior Ryan Ballew scored with 6:25 left in the first quarter, and Eric Klejka picked off Brennan Coles' screen pass and returned it 27 yards to give the visitors a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Southmoreland (0-3, 0-3) moved from its own 20 to the Mt. Pleasant 23, but lost the ball on a first-down fumble.
Moments later, a heads-up play by senior Tyler Mellors swung momentum in Mt. Pleasant's favor for good midway through the second quarter.
A 5-yard loss, two incompletions and a false start had Mt. Pleasant in punt formation at its own 16.
The snap sailed over Mellors' head and nearly went out of the back of the end zone, but before it did, Mellors grabbed the bounding ball and raced around right end. He picked up 26 yards and a first down.
Three plays later, Mt. Pleasant scored again and the rout was on.
“That was a turning point,” Southmoreland first-year coach Mark Adams said. “We had them pinned and thought we had a safety. That's a backbreaker for a young team.”
“The play Tyler made was unbelievable,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “It should have been a safety, but he brought the ball out (of the end zone) and made a spectacular play. That kind of flipped everything around.”
Southmoreland will play at Ford City next week.
Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer.