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Patience pays off for Mt. Pleasant

| Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007

Mt. Pleasant coach Mark Lyons said patience was a key component in Friday's Keystone Conference match-up against Belle Vernon Area.

Lyons used up a good bit of that patience, but it was worth it in the end, as the Vikings scored 10 unanswered points in the final quarter to get past the visiting Leopards, 10-7.

"I wrote myself a little note, and it said, 'Be patient,'" Lyons said. "I don't know if I was patient enough in the first half. I was kind of upset with myself for not being patient, so I tried to be patient in the second half."

Though Mt. Pleasant (3-1, 2-0) had possession of the ball for all but a few minutes of the first half, the team's impatience cost it.

The Vikings' offense was flagged for four false starts in the first half. One of those penalties put them in a second-and-16 situation in the second quarter from which they couldn't recover, and two plays after the ensuing punt,BVA tailback Shane Curran broke a few tackles and motored 72 yards for a touchdown. Adam Gillingham's extra point gave the Leopards a 7-0 lead.

Curran finished the game with 126 yards on 10 carries.

Mt. Pleasant got the ball back for a 15-play drive that ate up most of the rest of the clock and took them inside Belle Vernon's 10-yard line, but Matt Remaley's 26-yard field goal attempt was no good, and the Vikings went into the locker room still trailing.

The second half saw Mt. Pleasant continue to control the ball, but the defensive efforts of Jeff Ambrose and Jon Krepps kept the Vikings scoreless through the third quarter. But Ambrose, Krepps and the rest of the Leopards' defensive corps eventually began to tire.

"That's their game plan," said BVA coach Lou Rood. "They have a big offensive line, and they try to wear you down. They were able to do it."

Lyons confirmed it was Mt. Pleasant's plan to use big guards Aaron Zelmore, Brandon Bunting, Alex Bates and the rest of the offensive line to wear out the Leps' defense.

Harlen Funk, Rob Gumbita and Patrick Heskey also made some nice blocks for workhorse Jake Hoffer, who carried the ball 32 times for 129 yards. But it wasn't until the fourth quarter that Hoffer cashed in on all that blocking.

Dan Sivak sparked Mt. Pleasant's first possession of the quarter by hauling in a pass from Mike Sawlsville to get inside the BVA 35, and Hoffer took it from there, taking the ball on the next five plays and going nine yards to cap the drive with a touchdown. Remaley booted the extra point for a 7-7 tie.

The Vikings forced a punt on the Leps' next possession, and Sivak and Hoffer again worked the ball down the field. Tough defense from Ambrose, Krepps and Don Tasser stalled the drive inside the five-yard line, but Remaley made up for his earlier miss by sending a 20-yard field goal through the uprights with 1:20 left on the clock.

Incomplete passes and an ill-timed penalty had Belle Vernon (0-4, 0-1) turning the ball over on downs with under a minute to play, and the Vikings burned the clock to seal the win.

BVA is home with Laurel Highlands Friday.

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