Connellsville erupts for 1st victory of season

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 11:12 p.m.

Coming into Friday's homecoming game, the Connellsville football team knew it had to win if it had any hope of getting back in the Quad East playoff chase.

The Falcons were a desperate team — and played like it. They rolled to a 40-14 victory.

“You have to start somewhere, and it was good to start tonight,” Connellsville coach Dave McDonald said. “Nobody is going to feel bad for us and our problems, but we can do something to help ourselves. We played hard.”

Connellsville dominated the ground game. Christopher Russell piled up 129 yards on 29 carries and scored four 1-yard touchdowns.

“Russell ran really hard, and our offensive line did a great job,” McDonald said.

Norwin coach Art Tragesser agreed with McDonald's assessment.

“They did a great job, and we just couldn't stop them,” Tragesser said. “They've played really well. Their record doesn't reflect how well they have played.”

The Falcons (1-4, 1-3) dominated the first quarter. After Russell's first 1-yard scoring run, Connellsville extended its lead when Jade Maher threw a 20-yard TD pass to Caleb Pittsment. Maher completed 10 of 17 passes for 126 yards.

Connellsville's advantage swelled in the second quarter when Russell scored again to make it 20-0.

Before the half ended, the Knights (1-4, 1-4) scored on a quirky play. Norwin quarterback Nicholas Amendola hit Zeke Kijucaric for 28 yards. As he was about to cross the goal line, he fumbled. The ball was scooped up by Jonathan LoChiatic, who scored.

After a Connellsville fumble to start the second half, Amendola completed a drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to make it 20-14. Amendola completed 25 of 35 passes for 237 yards, in addition to his 71 rushing yards.

“He did a nice job,” Tragesser said. “We saw some improvement, and he's only a sophomore.”

The Falcons responded with an 11-play drive that ended with Russell's third touchdown. Michael Parlak ran in a two-point conversion to make it 28-14. Parlak rushed for 110 yards and ended a fourth-quarter Norwin drive with an interception.

“Connellsville came out with a lot more fire, and they took it to us,” Tragesser said.

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

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