NO DRAMA NEEDED
Last week, the Laurel Highlands football team needed a last-minute, miracle finish to pull out a Class AAA Keystone Conference victory. But in Week 4, the Mustangs needed no dramatic ending, as they took care of business early in a 47-7 triumph over host Southmoreland at Russ Grimm Stadium.
Dylan Clifford rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns, as Laurel Highlands joined Uniontown atop the conference standings. Both the Red Raiders and the Mustangs are 2-0 in conference play.
"It's one game at a time, and the most important thing is that this is a conference victory for us, and whenever you get one, it's fantastic," Laurel Highlands coach Jack Buehner said.
From the beginning of the game, it was clear that the Scotties were going to have a tough time shutting down Clifford.
The senior running back carried six times on Laurel Highlands' first possession, ripping off big chunks of yards and setting up Carmen Congelio's 30-yard scoring strike to Jake Hoch.
On Laurel Highlands' next possession, Clifford finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.
"Dylan is an iron man for us," Buehner said. "He is the kind of kid that does everything for us, and we have a few kids on this team that are like that."
While the Mustangs had no trouble moving the ball up and down the field, Southmoreland's offense struggled mightily. The Scotties were stuck in negative yardage for the first half.
Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts acknowledged his team is battling several key injuries, but he didn't use those injuries as a crutch for his team.
"That's not an excuse," Pritts said. "Laurel Highlands came out and did what they had to do to win the game. We're young and we're struggling, but we have to keep our enthusiasm and keep trying to get better."
Things didn't get much better for the Scotties (0-4, 0-1) in the second quarter, as the Mustangs (2-2, 2-0) put three more touchdowns on the board.
Marcus Mains raced in on a 19-yard score before Ryan Reed intercepted a pass and went untouched for a 15-yard score. Clifford capped the first-half scoring with an 8-yard run that helped the Mustangs take a 35-0 lead into the half.
And before his night was over, Clifford bulled in from 4 yards out early in the third quarter for his final score.
In the fourth, Divonte Walton scored on a 1-yard run for the Mustangs before Southmoreland's Eric Myers broke the shutout bid with a 10-yard run with 26 seconds remaining in the game.
The game was not the only loss for the Scotties, who also saw standout junior lineman Kekoa Hillen suffer an apparent back injury. Hillen was taken off the field on a back board, but Pritts noted that there were encouraging signs as Hillen left the field.
"He has movement and feeling, and they took him off just as a precaution," Pritts said.
The Scotties will look for their first win when they visit Derry on Friday. Also Friday, Laurel Highlands will entertain Thomas Jefferson in a nonconference game.
Notes: At halftime, 1993 Southmoreland graduate and former Pittsburgh-area FBI agent Samuel Hicks was honored. Hicks was killed in the line of duty last November. Members of Hicks' family were on hand and received a citation from state Rep. Deberah Kula.