H.S. FOOTBALL: Trojans overtake Lions for first win
ARMAGH — Friday night’s matchup between two previously winless Heritage Conference teams wasn’t pretty, but it was awesome at the same time.
It was bitter and it was sweet. Some would call it sloppy or scrappy, while others might say it was a great back-and-forth game.
It was ultimately all of those things tangled up into one jumble of emotions as Saltsburg won its first game of the season, 14-13, over United. Both teams entered the game looking for their first win, and neither team gave up until the final horn sounded at Thomas J. Madill Field.
“It was definitely a sloppy win, but it was really a good game by both teams,” Saltsburg’s Tyler Frassenei said. “There were a lot of missed tackles and broken plays, but a win is a win. At this point, we both wanted and needed this win. We came out on top, but it was a really close game.”
Trojans fullback Steve Richards hit Garrett Amorose with a pass on a fake extra point to pull Saltsburg ahead with 7:13 left in the game. Frankie Plowman threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Frassenei to set up the game-winning two-point conversion. Plowman completed 5 of his 12 attempts for 79 yards.
“It was a great throw by Frankie,” Frassenei said. “He threw it into double coverage, but he placed that ball perfectly for me. It was right at the pylon just like he told me in the huddle that it would be.”
Entering Friday, United had been outscored 174-17 through the first four weeks of the season.
The Lions had a chance to take the lead on their first drive, but Jake Beacker missed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide left with 8:20 left in the first quarter.
Both teams had a 48-yard run on their first possession, and United added a 65-yard run on its second drive, but neither team produced points in the first half. The game featured 18 penalties, two lost fumbles on kickoffs and six turnovers on downs.
Saltsburg faced third-and-47 when time expired in the second quarter after back-to-back penalties and a 19-yard sack.
“We definitely weren’t as clean as what we would’ve liked to have been,” Saltsburg coach Tim Frassenei said. “But to these kids’ credit, they fought the entire game. We put ourselves in some bad positions, and we were able to overcome those.
“They had a couple of big runs on us, so we definitely had some work to do on defense. We went in at halftime and tried to emphasize the positives.”
Saltsburg got on the board first on a 69-yard run by Richards at the 8:40 mark in the third quarter, but Jimmy Beitel missed the extra point. Richards rushed for a game-high 132 yards on 13 carries.
United answered on its next possession when quarterback Matt Dill connected with Weylon McGeary for a 20-yard touchdown, and Beacker added the extra point to put United up 7-6. Dill finished 4 of 13 for 69 yards, all to McGeary.
“We were better at doing our responsibilities, and we looked like a football team,” United coach Lance Holupka said. “I’m happy with the effort, just not happy with the result.”
On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans’ Lucas Mowery fumbled at his own 33-yard line, and it was recovered by the Lions. Dill then hit McGeary for a 32-yard pass, and Tyler Mack punched it in from the 1-yard line to increase United’s lead to 13-6 after a missed extra point. The two United scores were just 31 seconds apart. Mack led the Lions with 96 rushing yards on 13 carries.
“We tightened up,” Holupka said. “We had some running lanes because we came off the ball, and that’s the name of the game. But we missed opportunities. We were just a missed field goal and a missed extra point away from a win.”
In the final quarter, the Trojans forced a three-and-out and put together a 52-yard drive for the win.
“When you watch (United’s) film, they bring 10 guys and leave a safety in the middle of the field on the extra points,” Tim Frassenei said. “We lined up, and I planned on doing it, and then I wanted to back out. My coaches said to do it. We actually put that in this week. That’s our fire call off of a bad snap, but they bring 10 guys so hard that we thought it was an opportune time.”
The Trojans edged the Lions in total yards, 234-222, but the two teams combined for just 73 yards in the crucial final quarter. The last 10 plays from scrimmage resulted in zero or negative yards.
“They have a great team,” Tyler Frassenei said. “They showed a lot of heart, a lot of desire. And so did we. We came out the better team tonight, but that’s just one night. It could’ve been different on any other night. It was a good game.”
“It’s very threatening to play a team like that,” Tim Frassenei said. “We talked all week about getting out to a fast start because when you play another team just as hungry for a win as you are, the momentum is key. We told the kids all week the same things we always say, but it’s just emphasized more in a game like this. It’s such an emotional game with so many highs and lows, and tonight was a great example of that.”