Upper St. Clair avenges last season's loss to Bethel Park
Upper St. Clair's top-notch defense was at it again Friday night at Panther Stadium.
And now Jim Render's senior-laden squad has its sights set on a perfect regular season.
The No. 2 Panthers surrendered their first points since an opening-week victory over Woodland Hills, but Upper St. Clair passed a tough Class AAAA Quad Central test with a 28-13 victory over bitter rival Bethel Park.
Senior fullback Mac Pope scored a pair of short touchdowns, and the Panthers (7-0, 6-0) got big performances from Joe Repischak and Stephen Mackowick to avenge last year's 24-17 loss to the Black Hawks (5-2, 5-2).
That loss still was on the minds of the Panthers, who after the win, referenced quotes by Bethel Park's Jeff Metheny as motivation for this year's game.
“We had been thinking about this game for a year,” Render said. “We gave up three first downs to them last year and they scored two touchdowns on returns while we had two taken back, and their coach said they outplayed us.”
“We had a sign laminated with Coach Metheny's quotes saying that they outplayed us,” Pope said. “I was pretty mad.”
The Panthers' defense was not nearly as dominant as it had been in posting five consecutive shutouts, but it held No. 6 Bethel Park to a pair of Danny Christenson field goals and a late 17-yard touchdown pass from Levi Metheny to Jacob Greiner.
Upper St. Clair outgained Bethel Park 378-176, but was unable to put the game away until the fourth quarter.
Repischak completed 9-of-13 passes for 138 yards. The senior quarterback led his team to two first-half scoring drives that ended in Pope's scores and a 14-0 lead, but Bethel Park would not go away.
Christenson's second field goal brought the Black Hawks to within a touchdown and a two-point conversion at 14-6, but Trevor Morrow's 7-yard touchdown and Mackowick's 32-yard score put Upper St. Clair ahead, 28-6.
Mackowick rushed five times for 97 yards and his touchdown and Morrow finished with 16 carries for 80 yards and a score.
Despite the loss, Bethel Park got a strong performance from Metheny, who completed 12-of-21 passes for 107 yards. The sophomore finally was able to find the end zone when he hit Greiner on a 13-yard pass to narrow the deficit to 28-13, but it was too little too late for the Black Hawks, who tried their second unsuccessful onside kick before time expired.
Brian J. Duermeyer is a freelance writer.