Greyhounds win despite penalties
COAL CENTER — It wasn't too hard to wipe the smile off Monessen coach Andy Pacak's face after his Greyhounds remained unbeaten with a 32-14 win over California Area before a standing-room-only crowd at Trojan Stadium Friday night.
All that had to be done was to ask him about his team's penalties in the Tri-County South Conference game.
The Greyhounds were flagged 14 times for 147 yards in the contest, including several 15-yard penalties.
"We had a lot of penalties, but I'll tell you what — there were two teams out there and when you have a discrepancy in the calls, it makes you wonder," Pacak said.\
"I had four kids carted off the field because they kept getting chopped and the penalties were, what, 9-0 against us in the first half• How is that possible• We aren't that bad."
Actually, the Greyhounds (4-0, 4-0) were whistled seven times for 62 yards, while the Trojans (2-1, 2-2) were flagged once for 5 yards in the first half.
"Sometimes I think officials should just watch the game," Pacak said. "Some of the calls were (expletive)."
The game got sloppier in the second half as the Greyhounds were flagged 7 more times for 85 yards.
California, meanwhile, was called for 7 penalties totaling 64 yards after halftime.
Other than the amount of hankies thrown, Pacak was pleased with what he saw.
"I thought we did a better job offensively opening holes for our backs and I was pleased with the way our defense did overall," Pacak said.\
The Greyhounds picked off Trojan quarterback T.D. Conway three times with Justice Rawlins returning one of them for a 40-yard touchdown that opened the floodgates for Monessen in the second half.
"The interception by Justice was huge," said Pacak. "It changed momentum."
Monessen was holding a shaky 9-8 lead when Rawlins grabbed the errant pass and raced down the sidelines in the third quarter.
"That interception was a big play for them," admitted California coach Brady Barbero. "It changed the game around.
"It was one of a lot of mistakes we made in the second half."
Monessen took a 9-0 lead in the first half as Coby Matush drilled a 38-yard field goal that would have been good from 50 yards, and quarterback Brady Kunsa ran 8 yards for a TD with 10:51 left in the half.
The Trojans, who didn't make a first down until there were less than six minutes left in the first half, mounted a 12-play, 72-yard drive to close within 9-8.
T.D. Conway capped the drive by hooking up with his brother, Dakota, on a 15-yard scoring strike. The two combined for the two-point conversion.
The score remained that way until Rawlins' defensive gem with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
The Greyhounds upped the lead to 25-8 when Jalen Madison scored from 4 yards out with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
Monessen scored its final touchdown on a Kunsa-to-Aaron Bell 15-yard pass with 7:29 to play.
That score was set up by an interception by Monessen's Tyler Young, who ran 72 yards to the Trojans' 6 before he was tackled.
Cal capped the scoring when the Conway brothers again hooked up, this time from 18 yards out.
For the night, T.D. Conway hit on 14 of 34 passes for 177 yards.
"He started a little slow, but once he got into the flow of the game, he played better," Barbero said of his quarterback.
"He's a good kid with a nice touch," Pacak said of Conway. "I think our defense did a good job to shut him down most of the night. The three interceptions certainly helped."
NOTES: Cal's Jordan Pocky caught 6 passes for 80 yards and Dakota Conway caught 5 passes for 61 yards ... Madison had 8 carries for 68 yards, including a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter ... On Young's interception, the Greyhounds were penalized for sideline interference, which raised Pacak's ire ... Monessen hosts North Catholic Friday, while California travels to unbeaten Beth-Center ... Monessen's Bolias and California's Naz Victoria each had touchbacks on kickoffs. ... Monessen is 4-0 for only the second time since 2004.