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Greensburg Central Catholic wins fourth straight game

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 1:39 p.m.

Clinging to a five-point halftime lead, Greensburg Central Catholic scored on three of its first seven plays of the second half en route to a 33-14 Class AA Interstate Conference victory over visiting Charleroi.

GCC (4-3, 4-2) has now won four consecutive games, and is tied with rival Jeannette for third place in the conference. A showdown at home in the regular season finale is just two weeks away as the top four teams will secure a WPIAL playoff berth.

“We are really starting to jell after losing our starting quarterback in the second game of the season,” said GCC coach Dan Mahoney, referring to senior Chase Kellar.

A key part of that jelling process has been the efforts of senior running back Tyler Balla, who notched a career-high 305 yards rushing on 28 carries, which included 11 runs of more than 10 yards. Balla added a pair of receptions for 12 yards, as well as catching a successful two-point conversion attempt from kicker Nate Stone after recovering an errant snap. His only blemish was a pass attempt on a halfback option that fell through the hands of two teammates in the end zone on a fourth and goal play in the second quarter.

“Tyler had a great effort tonight,” Mahoney said. “He keeps bringing more and more all the time.”

Stone added a pair of rushing touchdowns of his own as GCC amassed more than 480 yards of offense, and 17 first downs, while averaging nearly 8 yards per play on the night. Classmate Eddie Kilkeary chipped in a pair of scores as well as 73 yards receiving and another 60 yards on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Tommy Pellis completed 6 of 15 passes for 90 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Defensively, GCC kept its opponent from recording its initial first down until 1:58 remaining in the third quarter, and limited Charleroi (1-6, 0-6) to only 133 yards of total offense. Seth Warburton, along with the entire defensive backfield, earned the praise of Mahoney for a superb overall team effort on defense. GCC forced its opponent into 11 plays that resulted in a loss of yardage.

Charleroi (1-6, 0-6) scored the game's first touchdown by virtue of senior linebacker Brandon Bowman's clean strip of the ballcarrier and subsequent 50-yard return less than four minutes into the game. However, they struggled to find rhythm offensively, and wouldn't score again until the outcome was clearly decided.

“We started fast and made a play early and our kids battled throughout,” Charleroi coach Ed Jenkins said. “We just weren't able to generate anything offensively.”

Dakota Moorer recorded a team-high 81 yards rushing on seven carries, and recorded the game's final score on a 46-yard touchdown run with 3:36 to play. He and Jimmy Smith split time taking snaps at quarterback as Jenkins said his team ‘cut the playbook down' in an effort to replace their regular starter in Brennan Matthews.

Mark Katarski is a freelance writer.

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