Hempfield hammers Latrobe
Hempfield fans have had little to cheer about during a current streak of 14 losing seasons.
Could this be the Spartans' year to end the futility?
Joey DeFloria scored three touchdowns — two on long punt returns — and Hempfield won its home opener, steamrolling Latrobe, 43-7, on Friday for its second consecutive lopsided victory in the Quad East Conference to open the season.
“This is great to see,” first-year Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said moments after Hempfield fans stormed the field. “These people are hungry for success. Let's hope we can keep it going.”
DeFloria returned punts of 65 and 85 yards for touchdowns and also scored on a 14-yard run for Hempfield (2-0, 2-0), which was coming off a season-opening, 33-18 upset of then-No. 7 McKeesport last week.
DeFloria's 14-yard touchdown run opened the scoring and gave Hempfield a 7-0, first-quarter lead. The Spartans tacked on a safety, quarterback Ty George's 1-yard touchdown run and DeFloria's 65-yard punt return for another score to seize a 23-0 halftime advantage.
“He's a threat to score anywhere on the field,” Bowen said of DeFloria, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior, who opened the third-quarter scoring with an 85-yard punt return for another TD.
DeFloria fielded the kick at the Hempfield 15, sidestepped several Latrobe defenders and broke loose around midfield and raced untouched to the end zone.
“We missed so many tackles,” said Latrobe coach Ray Reitz, whose Wildcats (0-2, 0-2) were outclassed by No. 2 Gateway, 61-6, in their opener a week ago. “I told the kids that we have to look at ourselves.
“I need to look at myself. At some point, when do you stop saying you're a young team? It's about time.”
Skyler Carkuff's 39-yard touchdown run put Hempfield ahead, 37-0, and triggered a running clock entering the fourth quarter, when Latrobe scored its only touchdown on a 22-yard run by Lucas Weltz.
DeLorian Day's 2-yard scoring run in the fourth for Hempfield closed out the scoring.
Hempfield outgained Latrobe, 323-212, and held a 269-161 edge in rushing. George was the Spartans' leading ground-gainer with 80 yards on seven carries. He also was 5 for 9 for 54 yards passing.
Latrobe quarterback Logan Carns, who faced a steady Hempfield pass rush, led the Wildcats with 83 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Bowen — the former Parade All-American quarterback who has revived programs twice at Serra Catholic, his alma mater, and once each at Elizabeth Forward and Yough — is attempting to resurrect a Hempfield program that went 16-51 the past seven seasons. The Spartans were 1-8 in 2011.
“He's doing a nice job here already,” Reitz said. “I've been on the other side of this, too, so I'm not going cry.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-5617.