Syster runs wild against Trojans
SALTSBURG — Grant Syster and the Purchase Line Red Dragons couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the season.
Syster set two school records, rushing for 333 yards and scoring seven touchdowns to lead Purchase Line to a 58-19 shellacking of Saltsburg in a Heritage Conference football game Friday night.
Syster rushed for 165 yards in the first quarter after running the opening kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown.
“Grant Syster had one heck of a game, and he deserves it,” Purchase Line coach Brandon Overdorff said. “The kid worked his tail off all offseason. He added a lot of muscle and speed, and he threw us on his back and did what we expect him to do. It was awesome to watch.”
The Red Dragons have won three straight games dating to last season while outscoring their opponents 139-19. Syster rushed for an area-high 1,593 yards last year, when Purchase Line finished 5-5.
“I just wanted to get through the game as a team, and I wanted to prove that we’re a different team than last year,” Syster said. “We can all bind together and give a great effort on every play. We want to give people something to watch out for.”
They did just that, and more.
The Red Dragons raced to a 32-0 lead at the half and didn’t allow Saltsburg to score until the 4:33 mark in the third quarter.
At that point, Syster already had 216 yards on 11 carries and five touchdowns.
“We saw him last year and saw him on film, and he is a very skilled back,” Saltsburg coach Tim Frassenei said. “He’s a tough runner and has fantastic vision. … That’s just a solid ball club. They have a good line and a good back. It’s a nice combination.”
Syster rushed for touchdowns of 47, 51, 6, 45, 62 and 46 yards and also had a 69-yarder called back on a holding penalty. He also had two sacks on defense.
Following the opening kickoff return, the Trojans went three-and-out. The Red Dragons made it 12-0 with 6:51 remaining in the first quarter. They scored on four of their five first-half possessions.
Saltsburg put together a decent drive to close out the second quarter but couldn’t get the snap off to spike the ball with two seconds left before halftime.
“We actually moved the ball in spurts in the first half, but it wasn’t consistent enough,” Frassenei said. “We moved it in chunks, but you have to be able to move the ball consistently. You can’t give a good offense the ball as much as we gave it to them tonight. You can’t go three-and-out, you can’t go five-and-out, and we did that tonight. We had some turnovers and some breakdowns.”
The Trojans got on the board with Jimmy Beitel’s 1-yard touchdown run, and then scored again when Tyler Frassenei hit Tanner Yard with a 24-yard touchdown pass with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
After leaving the game with cramps, Syster answered Beitel’s score with his 62-yarder on the next play from scrimmage and countered Yard just three plays later with his 46-yarder.
“They scored on us, so we had to answer,” Overdorff said. “Then we had one called back on us, and we would’ve liked to seal the deal there, and it didn’t happen. Then they punched another one in on us and had a little bit of momentum, so we had to answer again. And (Grant) came back and answered both. He was cramping up pretty bad, and we didn’t really want to put him in there, but they were putting pressure on us, so we needed to put some pressure back on them.
“It was a great performance. If you look around the county, I bet there wasn’t a better football player on the field than Grant Syster was tonight on both sides of the football.”
Hunter Rice added a 1-yard touchdown, and Grant’s brother, Lucas, broke loose for a 69-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Noah Zimmerman scampered 82 yards for a touchdown to round out the scoring.
“We had two good scrimmages, and we came out tonight and didn’t do the same things that we did in our scrimmages,” Tim Frassenei said. “A bunch of small mistakes that we haven’t seen in weeks popped up tonight, and that happens when you’re playing a good football club sometimes.”
The Red Dragons racked up 470 yards rushing compared to the Trojans’ 49, and Saltsburg passed for 180 yards while Purchase Line passed for just 27.
Saltsburg starting quarterback Tyler Frassenei was 5 of 12 for 52 yards and had one interception. Frankie Plowman was 8 of 13 for 128 yards and an interception.
“Frankie does a nice job blocking on the outside, and he throws the ball well,” Tim Frassenei said. “Tyler gives us a weapon on the outside. I thought they both played pretty solid at quarterback.”
Purchase Line quarterback Sam Stanford was 2 of 6 in his first varsity start.
“I felt great out there,” Stanford said. “We’re getting more confident, and our offense is coming along. We’ve been throwing in some more plays, but I have to give credit to my line and my running back. They really made it happen for us today.”
Purchase Line’s offensive line, which began the season with four returning starters, seemed to be in trouble early in the game due to injuries. But the underclassmen stepped up to pave the way for Syster in the backfield.
“We had to overcome some adversity with cramps and injuries,” Overdorff said. “We were pretty beat up and were scrambling to find people to put in from about the middle of the first quarter on.
“We’re going to have to get healthy really fast because we have two big games ahead of us. We have two big challenges in the next two weeks, and we’re pretty beat up right now. It was a great win for us, a great performance by Grant and an overall great effort by our team.”
PHOTO: Purchase Lines Grant Syster rushed for 333 yards and scored seven touchdowns in a win over Saltsburg. (Michael Walker/Gazette)