Rams power past Planets
A downed power line caused two temporary blackouts at Pine-Richland Stadium on Friday night, but nothing was going to turn off the Rams on opening night.
Pine-Richland took advantage of six fumbles, five of which were lost by Mars to defeat the Fightin' Planets, 35-7, before a packed house in a non-conference game between North neighbors. It also was the ninth annual St. Barnabas Medical Center Cup game of the rival squads. Pine-Richland, which has won the past two meetings, retained possession of the cup in grand fashion.
“How about that, we build a $9 million stadium and can't keep the lights on,” Pine-Richland coach Clair Altemus said. “Once we got the lights on everything was fine from then on. My team played well, especially on defense.”
The lights went out twice last night because a tree knocked over a power line. Players played through the first outage because it was still light. The second time the lights went out, however, play had to be suspended 15 minutes until the lamps cooled down before heating up again.
The Pine-Richland defense stayed hot. The Rams scored both first-half touchdowns after Mars fumbles. Pine-Richland tight end Brian Morrow recovered the first fumble, which led to the team's opening score. Thanks to Morrow, Pine-Richland took over on the Mars' 47-yard line. Three plays later, running back Greg Hough scored from a yard out with 6:35 to play in the first quarter. Hough, who rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries was set up for the touchdown score by a pair of passes of 39- and seven yards from Kevin McCabe to Neil Walker.
“Greg is our workhorse,” Altemus said. “He is going to get 15-20 carries a game and I feel comfortable getting the ball in his hands.”
Mars coach Scott Heinauer usually knows he can be confident with the ball in Brad Mueller's hands. Mueller got the Fightin' Planets on the board with a 72-yard run on the first play from scrimmage at the 5:39 mark in the first quarter. Mueller, the defending WPIAL Class AA champion in the 100-meter dash, ran right, then scaled the sideline all the way into the end zone, nearly untouched. That was pretty much his night, as the Pine-Richland defense covered him like a blanket for the rest of the game. Mueller ended the game with 104 yards on 15 carries.
“I think we did a pretty good job of keeping Brad in check,” Altemus said. “But on that run he showed why he is a Division I prospect. Once he was past the line, no one was able to catch him.”
The score was tied, 7-7, at the end of the opening quarter.
Pine-Richland scored a second touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Virginia recruit Kevin McCabe to Greg Morrow for a 14-7 advantage. It came after another Mars' fumble.
That was the end of the scoring in the first half.
Pine-Richland took advantage of another Mars miscue when a bad snap on a punt put Pine-Richland at the Mars 1-yard line. McCabe used a quarterback sneak to get in for the score giving the Rams a 21-7 lead.
Pine-Richland, ranked No. 4 among Class AAA teams in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review WPIAL coaches' poll sealed the win with a 33-yard pass for a touchdown from McCabe to T.J. Holloway with 8:26 to play in the third quarter. Mars, a No. 3 selection among WPIAL Class AA teams in the Trib's poll, again fumbled on a lateral pass from quarterback Zach Rosswog.
Pine-Richland took over on the Mars 34-yard line. McCabe added his second 1-yard run of the game for a touchdown at the 4:16 mark. He finished with 8 of 12 passes for 142 yards, including a pair of touchdown passes and touchdown runs.
Pine-Richland led, 35-7, at the end of three quarters.
“You can't fumble the ball as much as we did and expect to win,” Heinauer said. “We had a couple of mental breakdowns. We were lucky to escape being down only 14-7 at halftime. We need to regroup and get back to fundamentals which was are good at. Not having lights was frustrating, but it was frustrating to both teams.”