Blackhawk able to contain Shell, Hopewell
The Rushel Shell show came to Blackhawk on Friday night, and the Cougars promptly closed the curtains.
Josh Desmond completed 7 of 14 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, Mike Shansky added two scores, and Blackhawk's cast of playmakers outshined Shell and Class AAA No. 2 Hopewell in a 37-13 Parkway Conference victory at home Friday night.
Starting in place of injured starter Chandler Kincade (bruised shoulder), Desmond threw a 29-yard score to Brendan Kearney and a 22-yarder to Shansky. Shansky, Brandon Mansell and Cole Chiappialle all added scoring runs for Blackhawk (4-1, 2-1), a team that Shell has historically struggled against.
Shell, a week after becoming the WPIAL's all-time leading rusher, carried 26 times for 109 hard-earned yards for Hopewell (4-1, 2-1), but the Vikings struggled to move the ball much of the night. Wiley Belknap scored on a 45-yard run, and Nolan Harmotto added a 28-yard touchdown pass to Arion Sepp for Hopewell in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
"Honestly, when you're able to stop (Shell), it's a complete team effort," Blackhawk coach Joe Hamilton said. "That was our game plan all week. We worked really hard on making sure we had somebody outside anytime he bounced out. ... It worked. It's worked three years for us, really."
Nonetheless, Shell extended his 100-yard game streak to 34, four shy of Billy Sims' national record of 38. Shell's career yardage now sits at 7,827.
"They're a good football team, and it was a wet track and all that," Hopewell coach Dave Vestal said. "I think we just slipped up some blocks and didn't make plays when we needed to make plays."
Blackhawk waited all of four plays to begin the scoring onslaught against the Vikings, when Desmond connected with Kearney for a 29-yard score just 1:27 into the first. Then, near the end of the quarter, Kearney snagged a 33-yard pass from Desmond, setting up Shansky's 2-yard touchdown run. On the Cougars' next drive, Desmond lofted a screen to Shansky, who took it 22 yards for another touchdown, making it 20-0 with 10 minutes to play in the first half.
Desmond hooked up with Kearney again on the next drive, this time for 44 yards, and that led to Brandon Mansell's 21-yard touchdown run on the next play. Michael Gardner added a 26-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the half, and Blackhawk led, 30-0.
Meanwhile, Shell was mostly bottled up in the first half, gaining 71 yards on 17 carries.
Hopewell finally got on the board with 4:27 left in the third, when Shell, taking snaps in the Wildcat formation, handed off to Belknap on an end-around, and Belknap took it 45 yards to the house. Shell began to take snaps from the Wildcat as the game wore on, but he sat out much of the fourth.
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