Yough handles Southmoreland
Although there were no playoff hopes on the line, Friday's Class AA Interstate Conference finale between Yough and host Southmoreland wasn't short on guts and character.
Both teams showed determination, but the Cougars made the big plays early on their way to a 35-14 victory.
For the Scotties (3-6, 3-5), it was a tough grind, especially considering senior quarterback Dakota Datz missed nearly the entire game. Datz played Southmoreland's first series and got in for a play to start the second half. Otherwise, he was relegated to the sideline with a right arm/shoulder injury suffered late in last week's win over Charleroi.
“He tried to put his Superman cape on, but he was just a mess,” coach Dominic Pecora said. “We knew we probably wouldn't have him and, when he's not in there, it's a different game.”
Without Datz, the Scotties were forced to play a conservative style, and that wasn't a recipe for success considering the Cougars (4-5, 4-4) built a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
“We have a pretty potent offense, and we're a team that can score from anywhere,” Yough coach Mark Crovak said. “It's nice to be able to jump on people like that.”
Yough's first drive lasted 13 plays and was capped by a Tyler Donahue 14-yard pass to Mike Reuss. On the Cougars' next possession, Clayton Waldron completed a nine-play march with a 2-yard touchdown run. On Yough's first drive of the second quarter, Donahue needed just one play to hit Joe Pleva on a 51-yard touchdown strike.
Donahue completed eight of 18 passes for 192 yards.
Yough seemed to be on its way to a blowout win, but the Scotties responded. Tyler Ramsey and Jake Pisula tried to pick up the offensive slack for Datz, and they succeeded as they took turns picking up nice chunks of yards on an 11-play drive. It ended when Ramsey hit Justin Livengood for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Not facing Datz seemed to confuse the Yough defense.
“Our whole defensive game plan was based on (Datz) being in there,” Crovak said. “It kind of threw us off.”
After the Scotties broke through, the game got tighter. On Yough's next series, Donahue was intercepted by Jake Beistel, who returned the ball to the Yough 22-yard line. Southmoreland converted the turnover into points when Pisula scored on a 17-yard run to make it 21-14.
“That's character,” Pecora said. “I almost had tears in my eyes on that interception. Jake Beistel and Chas King played a great defensive game. I thought we were in for something special, but the biggest drive was the one before the half.”
That drive was a nine-play series that ended in the final minute of the half when Donahue scored on a 4-yard run to restore a two-touchdown lead.
Neither team could do much offensively in the third quarter, but Yough was able to seal it in the fourth when Donahue scored on a 29-yard run.
Lost in the shuffle was a strong game on the ground by Yough's Ben D'Amico. Although he didn't score, he rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries.
Ramsey and Pisula each had 22 carries for the Scotties, with Pisula leading the way with 90 yards.
Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.