Connellsville forces 6 turnovers in win over Latrobe
Connellsville's chances of qualifying for the playoffs ended Friday night, but the Falcons' hopes of finishing the year strong are alive.
On a crisp night at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium, the Falcons scored three touchdowns and forced six turnovers on their way to a 19-0 Quad East win over the Wildcats.
“It was a good effort,” Connellsville coach Dave McDonald said. “We played great defense for 48 minutes.”
Although they emerged with a win, the Falcons (2-6, 2-5) were eliminated from playoff contention by virtue of Baldwin's victory over Canon-McMillan. Latrobe (2-6, 1-6) also has been eliminated from postseason contention.
Coming into the game, Connellsville knew it had to contain Latrobe quarterback Logan Carns, and it did so successfully. The Falcons intercepted two passes in the first half as Michael Parlak and Josh Cree each came up with a pick, and Donavan Miller recovered a fumble.
In the second half, Connellsville thwarted several Latrobe drives as Steven White, Evan Onusko and Anthony DeMarco all came through with interceptions.
“Defensively we made plays,” McDonald said, “we stepped up big.”
While the defense was strong, neither team could muster much on offense, especially in the first half.
Connellsville came up with the only score in the first half as Jade Maher completed an eight-play, 62-yard drive with a 4-yard toss to Caleb Pittsment in the back of the end zone midway through the first quarter. After a scoreless second and third quarters, the Falcons gained some breathing room with two scores in the fourth quarter.
Dylan Knopsnider capped a 96-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0. Then late in the quarter, Maher iced it by racing 76 yards untouched into the end zone.
“We adjusted at halftime,” McDonald said, “we wanted to put our will on them, and we got it done.”
Latrobe tried to get something going with Craig Stevens replacing Carns in the second half. Stevens completed 6 of 12 passes for 109 yards, but the Wildcats couldn't dent the scoreboard.
McDonald credited his assistant coaches and players, especially in the second half. Latrobe coach Ray Reitz also credited the Falcons with a strong effort but acknowledged the turnovers ultimately decided the game.
“Six turnovers, and that's the bottom line,” Reitz said. “I think the kids played hard, but you can't turn the ball over six times to anybody. We just didn't play. We made the mistakes.”
Connellsville will complete its regular season against visiting Altoona on Friday. Latrobe will finish up its season with a trip to Kiski Area.
Jason Black is the local sports editor for the Daily Courier. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.