Elizabeth Forward ambushes Belle Vernon
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It's been a long time coming for Elizabeth Forward.
For the first time in nine seasons, the Warriors traveled to Belle Vernon and won a football game. Not only did they win, they won handily.
The Warriors used big plays and capitalized on three Leopard turnovers in the first quarter en route to a 35-6 Class AAA Big Nine Conference win.
“It's been a real long time,” Warriors coach Mike LeDonne said. “I had the pleasure of playing in this atmosphere, and I fell short. We stressed to the guys that this is the team that knocked us out of the chance to play for a championship in 1999. To win this one is really special, for me and these kids.”
On the Warriors' third offensive play, quarterback JaQuaun Davidson found wideout Matt Bernadowski down the middle for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
While more offense was to come from the Warriors (2-2, 2-2), that would be all they needed.
Elizabeth Forward's Adam Smith recovered a bad snap at the Belle Vernon 4, and two plays later, running back Rex Pearce scored his first of three touchdowns, from 2 yards out.
Belle Vernon (1-3, 1-3) fumbled on its next drive, and the Warriors recovered again, this time at the Leopard 2-yard line. Pearce scored on the next play for a 21-0 lead three minutes into the game.
Leopards quarterback Travis Snyder, injured against West Mifflin two weeks ago, made his first appearance after the third Warrior score.
“There was no hesitation there,” Belle Vernon coach Aaron Krepps said. “We knew that there was a good chance he was going to be able to go this week, and down, 21-0, we needed to try to do something on offense.”
With Snyder at the helm, the Leopards embarked on a 10-play drive before Bernadowski picked off a Snyder pass and returned it to the Warriors 37. It was the first of two interceptions for the Elizabeth Forward defensive back.
Two plays later, Davidson raced 66 yards for another Warrior touchdown to make it 28-0.
LeDonne wasn't surprised by the success of Davidson and Pearce.
“In simple words, I'll take it,” LeDonne said of the pair. “You look at a kid like Rex; the kid got dinged up, he was in pain and he went back in there and played through it. He's a true warrior.”
Pearce rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries. Davidson tallied 165 yards on 15 carries.
“I thought we had some opportunities,” Krepps said of his team's performance. “It's just the little things. We're not playing sound football. We got down and that was it. We're not generating any offense and it really puts our defense in a bad situation.
“We have to find something and start executing. That responsibility falls on me.”
The Leopards didn't go down without a fight and finally scored when Derek Verkleeren raced 78 yards for a touchdown on a reverse on the second-half kickoff.
“We actually only had 10 guys on the field,” LeDonne said of the play.
“Our safety counted wrong and thought we had 11 on the field, so he ran off. It was a debacle and it's on us as coaches.”
Pearce finished off the scoring with a 1-yard run with 2:23 left in the third quarter. The score was set up by a 67-yard run by Davidson.
“You know, the three turnovers early on, that was us last season,” LeDonne said. “To credit Belle Vernon, though, they never quit fighting. Coach Krepps did a great job keeping his team in the game. They never folded.”
Note: Warriors offensive lineman Michael Ocilka was ejected in the third quarter and will be ineligible for next week's game against Uniontown.
Jeremy Sellew is a freelance writer
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers still knockin’ on Canton’s door
- Pitcher Arrieta, Cubs shut down Pirates in victory at PNC Park
- Plum man, 21, accused of attempted homicide
- Former Lower Burrell couple to stand trial for animal cruelty
- Homestead-Duquesne Road closure postponed
- Heyward-Bey looks to make impact on special teams with Steelers
- New Kensington considers seal-coat for roads
- Private schools fill void in driver education in Western Pennsylvania
- Philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse Elsie Hillman dies at 89
- Bridge replacement sends Fawn motorists on detours
- East Vangergrift gives contractor extra 16 days to complete separation project