McKeesport runs past Kiski Area
When George Smith agreed to return to coach McKeesport after a three-year hiatus, the last thing on his mind was winning a conference championship.
The same goes on the first day he met with the players, the first day of spring workouts, the first day of camp and even after McKeesport remained only one of three Quad-A teams with a perfect record following Friday's 34-12 win over Kiski Area.
“I never thought about it,” Smith said. “Not then, not now.”
Smith has no choice but to think about it now.
Not long after the Tigers put the final touches on the win over Kiski, word arrived that Penn-Trafford upset Gateway, assuring McKeesport at least a share of the Quad-East title regardless of the outcome of Thursday's finale against the Gators.
Smith's reaction? You guessed it.
“I don't think about it. I just think game-to-game,” he said. “I knew we had potential, but that is all it was. I just want to watch the film and see how we can get better.”
It won't be easy to find flaws with his team's performance against playoff-bound Kiski (4-4, 4-3).
The offense gained 332 yards, and the defense sacked Kiski quarterback Chad Kuhn five times and kept the high-powered Cavaliers out of the end zone for all but the final three minutes.
“We didn't deserve to win,” Kiski coach Dave Heavner said. “Defensively we gave up big plays in the first half, and those are plays that we can't give McKeesport. Then we shut them down a little bit in the second half, and then we squandered scoring opportunities.”
McKeesport gained all but 125 of its yards in the first half.
Mikell Moore rushed for 79 yards and touchdown runs of 32, 3 and 14 yards. TyWann Smith added 69 yards and David Queen 64 yards and a touchdown, while SeanLou Gilmore chipped in with a late 39-yard scoring run.
Kuhn completed 19 of 33 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown, while Joe Brungo hauled in nine passes for 113 yards and a score.
McKeesport (8-0, 7-0) outrushed Kiski, 314-38.
“The key to our success has been that we've been able to keep the offensive line off the field on defense,” Smith said. “They go just one way and that's big. We had some big plays.”
Heavner took a calculated gamble by crowding the line of scrimmage with all 11 defenders, making his team susceptible to the long run.
That's exactly what McKeesport accomplished.
Allen Wright broke off a 20-yard run on McKeesport's third play, and Moore went 33 yards for a score two plays later. Four plays after getting the ball back on the ensuing possession, Queen ran 38 yards for a score, and the Tigers led 14-0 eight minutes into the game.
“We have to take that risk,” Heavner said. “They do a good job of getting their playmakers the ball, and we wanted to make sure we protected our defense inside out.”
Adam Mitcheson's 45-yard field goal in the second quarter made it 14-3, and the Cavaliers were threatening again late in the second quarter. However, McKeesport turned away Kiski's 14-play drive on a Moore sack on fourth down, then struck quickly with a five-play, 50-yard drive that resulted in a Moore 3-yard TD run seconds before halftime.
“We squandered opportunities, and against a team like McKeesport you have to take advantage of all the opportunities,” Heavner said. “We just didn't do that.”