Derry drubbed by Highlands, 45-0
NATRONA HEIGHTS--Going into last Friday night's non-conference game at Highlands Coach Jim Paul knew that his Derry defense would undergo an acid test from a Golden Ram offense that runs, runs, runs.
Paul's fears were justified as Highlands, led by Kevin Linza with 168 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns and Josh Shelton with 115 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, showed no mercy on the injury-riddled Trojans by pounding out a 45-0 win.
The Trojans (0-4) will be on the road again tonight when they will resume Keystone Conference play at Belle Vernon, which in recent years has given Derry Area a lot of trouble, especially on the road. It will be DA's third straight road encounter.
Trojan fans might have felt that it was a bad omen when a bank of lights at the Highlands stadium went dark about 30 minutes before the game began. It was a bad night all around for the Trojans, who never got untracked against a Highlands team that just had too much quickness.
Paul said afterwards that Highlands, coached by Tim Karrs, is an opponent that takes full advantage of every scoring opportunity and keeps the pressure on. Highlands thrives on mistakes made by the opposition.
Things started going bad for Derry from the beginning when, on the opening series, quarterback Dewey Schmitt fumbled after being hit. Matt Stephenson picked up the ball at the 16 and the Golden Rams were in business.
On the first play Josh Shelton rushed for 15 yards and, with 9:30 remaining in the opening quarter, scored on the next play from a yard out. Michael Duffy converted his first of six extra points.
Another costly miscue led to the second Highlands score when a pass by Schmitt was intercepted by Shelton.
Then with 6:31 remaining in the opening quarter Linza scored his first touchdown on a 44-yard run down the sidelines. Duffy's extra point was perfect and the Golden Rams led 14-0.
A bit later Duffy's 31-yard field goal put the Golden Rams ahead 17-0 when the opening period came to a close.
The Golden Rams put the game out of reach with two more touchdowns in the second quarter, but Trojan fans were more concerned about linebacker Michael Frayvolt, who was injured while attempting to make a tackle a little over a minute into the quarter.
Frayvolt, who sustained an apparent concussion, received medical attention for over 10 minutes and was removed from the playing field on a stretcher.
Highlands (3-1) scored once again with 5:24 remaining in the opening half when Linza plunged in from two yards out. Duffy was perfect again and the score mounted to 24-0.
Highlands would go up 31-0 with 29 seconds remaining in the opening half on an 11-yard pass from quarterback Zack Bonatesta to Jason Booker at the end of a drive highlighted by some impressive runs by Linza and Shelton.
Highlands, which resumes Greater Allegheny Conference play tonight at backyard rival Valley, added insult to injury with a 12-play scoring drive in the third quarter. Linza scored again with 4:59 remaining on a 29-yard scamper and with Duffy's extra point the mercy rule was in effect at 38-0.
Highlands scored once more with 4:22 remaining on a 28-yard drive on four plays, which was made possible by a fumble recovery. Reserve running back Zack Eiseman scampered eight yards for the score and, once again, Duffy added the extra point.
Highlands finished the night with 294 yards, and it was a strong performance by the Golden Rams on defense as they held the Trojans to just 99 yards. The Trojans could muster but 31 yards through the air.
Leading rusher for the Trojans was Chris Moore with 37 yards while Brandon Titel, playing in place of the injured Bob Reeping, finished with 28.
The Golden Rams did not need a strong passing attack but had 64 aerial yards. Karrs substituted freely in the final quarter.