Gainer leads East Allegheny over Deer Lakes
East Allegheny senior receiver Praise Gainer did a little bit of everything Friday night to help lead the Wildcats to a 35-6 win over Allegheny Conference rival Deer Lakes.
When Deer Lakes' kickoff to start the second half rolled out of bounds, Wildcats coach Dominic Pecora trusted his playmaker and elected for Deer Lakes to re-kick rather than starting at his own 35 yard-line.
After muffing the catch on the re-kick, Gainer picked up the ball and returned it 90 yards for the score.
To go with his dazzling return, Gainer also had two catches for 53 yards, two carries for 30 yards and an interception off Lancer quarterback Josh Plocki in the third quarter.
Gainer almost had another explosive touchdown in the first quarter, but his 75-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Kyle Whipple was negated by a holding penalty.
The penalty ultimately didn't cost the Wildcats (2-2, 2-2).
After a scoreless first quarter, East Allgheny completed methodical 13-play drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Whipple.
One of the keys to that drive — and the whole night offensively for East Allegheny — was the dominant rushing performance by junior fullback Taizjon Brown.
He had runs of 19 and 8 yards on the first scoring drive to keep the chains moving.
East Allegheny had a scare on its opening drive when Brown jogged off the field holding his wrist after an 8-yard gain, but he returned the following series. He finished with 21 carries for 172 yards, capped by a 29-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Plocki had a rough night through the air for the Lancers, completing just 10 of 25 passes for 90 yards and three interceptions. His first pick was perhaps the most untimely.
With less than a minute left in the first half, Deer Lakes was in the midst of a 14-play drive and threatening to tie the game when Plocki was picked off by Whipple inside the East Allegheny 10-yard line.
The Wildcats defense looked impressive all night, holding the Lancers (0-4, 0-4) scoreless until the 4:21 mark of the fourth quarter. Plocki finally scored on a 2-yard run to put his team on the board.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.