Hempfield defense shuts down Kiski Area
As it stood on the brink of losing its shutout Friday night against host Kiski Area, Hempfield's defense came up with yet another major break.
The Spartans (3-1, 3-1), just inches away from their end zone, turned a fourth-and-goal run for the Cavaliers (2-2, 2-2) into a demoralizing 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown just before halftime during their 27-0 win in Quad East play.
“I thought (Nathan) Fleck had the stop, and that the play was over,” said junior defensive back Lorenzo Barchetti, who was at the periphery of the goal-line pile up and then zipped away for score. “Then the ball popped in my hands, and I just took off.”
The shutout win was Hempfield's first since the 2006 season opener, when the Spartans beat Greensburg Salem, 6-0.
“We're always talking about never giving up on plays, and that's what these kids did tonight,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said.
Turnovers plagued Kiski Area throughout the first half. The Cavaliers headed to the locker room with four and finished with five.
A fumbled punt return set up Hempfield at the Kiski Area 17-yard line. The Cavaliers held their ground, but the first of John Domit's two field goals gave Hempfield a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Three plays after almost fumbling away the ensuing kick return, Kiski Area committed another giveaway, as senior safety Joey Hoffner returned an interception 11 yards for a touchdown.
Hempfield had just 95 yards of offense at halftime — 63 on a run by quarterback Ty George. But running back Joe DeFloria gave that number a boost with an 80-yard TD run during the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
DeFloria finished with 117 yards on 17 carries. He also kept Kiski Area pinned deep in its end with his punts, three of which died inside the Cavaliers' 10-yard line.
Kiski Area coach Dave Heavner had little explanation for his team's struggles with giveaways.
“We played tough to the very end, and I was proud of the effort,” he said, “but we just got to find a way to stop these turnovers.”