Gillaspie runs over W. Shamokin
Monessen football coach Andy Pacak has been saying all season that Clintell Gillaspie would make any Division I coach who recruited him very happy.
He certainly won't get an argument from, West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough.
Especially not after the game the 6-0, 224-pound senior running back had in the Greyhounds' 37-14 win over the Wolves in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
Gillaspie rushed for 270 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns. He added a fourth score on a 15-yard pass.
“He is a man-child out there,” McCullough said with a smile. “He is the best we saw. He is just a tough, tough kid to bring down. I think he was the difference.”
“Clintell had the kind of game we are used to seeing from him,” Pacak said. “But all in all, I'm not very happy with our performance. We started fast and then played in a lull for like two quarters.”
The Greyhounds (10-1) jumped to an 18-0 lead in the first quarter and then watched as the feisty Wolves (6-4) fought and clawed to stay in the game.
After Javon Brown capped the opening six-play, 69-yard drive of the game for Monessen by racing in from 21 yards to make it 6-0, Gillaspie exploded against the Wolves' defense for scoring jaunts of 62 and 47 yards. The latter came on the final play of the first quarter to make it 18-0.
West Shamokin struck quickly on the first offensive play of the second quarter as Alex Lasslo hit Andrew Wingard with a 69-yard scoring pass to make it 18-7.
“I just thought we jumped out on them and our guys thought, ‘Here we go again' and then we just sat back and relaxed,” Pacak said. “But I won't take anything away from (West Shamokin). Their kids fought hard all night and were tougher than I had anticipated.”
After rushing for 189 yards on 11 carries in the first half, Gillaspie raced 17 yards for a TD the first time he touched the ball in the third quarter to make it 24-7.
However, the Wolves came back and marched 70 yards in 13 plays, culminating with a 5-yard scoring pass from Lasslo to Adam Crise to close the gap to 24-14 going into the fourth quarter.
Lasslo completed 11 of 14 passes for 147 yards and two TDs with one interception.
“I'm so darn proud of my guys,” said McCullough. “A lot of teams that fall three touchdowns down in the first quarter would go in the tank. But we kept fighting and never gave up. We did the best we could.
“A lot of people probably thought West Shamokin didn't belong here, but I think we showed people that we did.”
The Greyhounds put the game away in the fourth quarter as Noah Rullo connected on a 15-yard scoring pass to Gillaspie and then Kayne Jackson scored on a 1-yard run with 50 seconds to play.
“Our passing game wasn't in synch and that made it tougher to run,” said Pacak. “I mean, I'm not going to cry about a 37-14 playoff win, but we have a lot of work to do. We have to play better than this.
“The games will obviously get tougher now.”
Monessen will get a quarterfinal round rematch with Neshannock, a 40-9 winner over Brentwood.
Neshannock nipped the Greyhounds, 24-21, last year.
GAME NOTES: Brown finished the night with 50 yards rushing on 11 carries ... Rullo completed just three of nine passes for 19 yards and was intercepted once ... Monessen had 231 yards rushing in the first half and finished the night with 326 after running just 16 offensive plays in the second half ... The teams combined for 15 penalties for 130 yards.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.