Greensburg Salem wins wild one over Derry
You wouldn't know Friday night that the Greensburg Salem and Derry football teams were having tough seasons.
The teams put on quite the offensive show at Offutt Field, with Greensburg Salem (2-6, 2-6) protecting its home turf with a thrilling 49-41 victory in a WPIAL Greater Allegheny Conference game. The teams combined for 800 yards of offense.
Freshman quarterback Dan Walters passed for 148 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards and two scores to lead Greensburg Salem on Senior Night. Walters tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to Ken Clark and a 44-yard strike to Denzell Jackson. His touchdown runs were of 49 and three yards.
“We needed this win,” Greensburg Salem coach Casey Cavanaugh said. “We've battled all year with the injuries. We hung in there and we had a bunch of kids make plays.
“Our seniors stepped up, and Danny had a huge game. Getting up early was huge for us. We've been a team that has lacked some confidence.”
Derry was led by senior running back Josh Wannamaker. Wannamaker rushed for 227 yards, caught three passes for 34 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“Josh is a great athlete, our workhorse,” Derry coach Al Gaiardo said. “He's played six different positions for us this season and he has a great attitude. I'm sure there will be some colleges who'd like his services.”
Wannamaker kept Derry in the game in the first half, rushing for 208 yards.
But Greensburg Salem led, 35-27, at halftime, taking advantage of three Derry turnovers that resulted in 21 points. Don McKinley also returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, the longest in school history, since kicks into the end zone are not returnable.
The Golden Lions raced to a 14-0 lead and never trailed in the game. A defensive adjustment at halftime cut down Wannamaker's running lanes in the second half.
“Wannamaker is a good back,” Cavanaugh said. “They were down two scores early and they kept battling.”
Tyler Shook, a senior, had an outstanding performance in his final home game. He rushed for two touchdowns (42 and two yards), gained 52 yards and intercepted two passes.
Greensburg Salem took a commanding 49-27 lead in the third quarter on touchdown runs by Walters and Shook, but Derry didn't quit.
The Trojans scored two touchdowns during a 13-second span in the fourth quarter to trim the lead to 49-41. Derry recovered an onside kick and had the ball at the Greensburg Salem 35 before Simeon Stevens intercepted a pass at the Golden Lions' 5 to kill the threat.
“I'm proud of the players,” Gaiardo said. “We got down early, we fought back and had a chance to tie the score at the end. We just had a couple breakdowns in protection. We fought the entire game.”
Derry junior quarterback Kyle Holmes passed for 274 yards, and Sam Brezo caught four passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at Pschofield@tribweb.com.