Rochester rallies to down Neshannock
TribLIVE Sports Videos
His head held high, a sly grin on his face, Dante Marsick nodded to his right while he pointed into the center of the Rochester locker room.
When asked what the difference was for the Rams in the second half of their 28-21 win against visiting Neshannock on Friday night, Marsick referred to the halftime speech — and the halftime adjustments.
“The coaches came in and basically told us they shouldn't be in the game,” said Marsick, Rochester's senior running back. “Simple as that. They told us to respond. The seniors stepped up.”
Marsick rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns for Class A No. 2 Rochester (6-0, 5-0), which trailed by a point after two quarters but controlled much of the second half.
After a slow start, Rochester read Neshannock's spread.
The upstart Lancers and their high-scoring, shotgun, short-passes offense took a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession, moved the ball to the Rochester 1 on their second drive and added another first-half touchdown against the perennial powerhouse Rams.
But the bigger, steadier Rochester defense buckled down in the second half. No. 5 Neshannock (5-1, 5-1) was held to two first downs in the second half until a final desperation drive resulted in an Eli Owens 1-yard scoring run with 17.9 seconds to play.
“They threw a punch at us, but we responded to the punch,” Rams coach Gene Matsook said. “That's what good football teams do.”
Early on, the Lancers' spread offense — the one averaging 43 points, third in WPIAL Class A — was humming.
Neshannock entered the game ranked ninth in the WPIAL in total offense and second among Class A teams, and the Lancers moved the ball effortlessly their first two possessions. The opening drive resulted in an Alex Welker 25-yard touchdown reception from Ernie Burkes.
Burkes added a 60-yard touchdown pass to John Congolose that made it 14-7 in the second quarter.
“We knew they were going to bring everybody to try to stop our inside run game, which they did,” Lancers coach Fred Mozzocio said. “What we had to do was make plays on the outside. We did in the first half, but in the second half we didn't.”
Rochester's Ben Richko did it all. He went 6 for 14 for 86 yards, had a rushing touchdown, ran for a two-point conversion, kicked an extra point and had an interception.
Chris Adamski 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.
- Penguins notebook: Bennett status remains fluid
- Pittsburgh man gets 2 life terms in slaying of Beaver Falls couple
- Steelers notebook: Defense tasked with stopping Graham
- IUP student dies from injuries after he was pinned beneath car
- Pirates star McCutchen marries in private ceremony
- Monongahela paramedic dies in the line of duty
- Fire destroys Armstrong County tavern
- Jury finds Rayshawn Williams guilty of first-degree murder
- Allegheny Twp. residents challenge legality of drilling in neighborhoods
- Pitt center Randall rebounds from injury
- Man charged in New Stanton Sunoco robbery