Heroic efforts enable Upper St. Clair to OT victory
On a night honoring military heroes, Upper St. Clair tipped its cap to Tommy Kyle. The diminutive defensive back saved the day when he intercepted West Allegheny’s 2-point conversion pass and preserved a 21-20 overtime victory for the Panthers in a battle between two unbeaten Allegheny Nine Conference foes.
“Tommy is not the biggest person in the world, but he is a very intense competitor,” USC head coach Jim Render said.
“His goal is to go to one of the academies, and if ever I wrote a letter of recommendation where I think Congressional people should take my advice it’s, Tom Kyle,” added Render, smacking his fist into his palm.
Kyle is in the process of applying to the U.S. Naval Academy. The 5-9, 165-pound senior hopes to become a pilot.
“If it’s possible,” he said. “It’s a very competitive process.”
Just like pulling off victories against the defending WPIAL Class 5-A champions on their home turf at Joe P. Demichela Stadium, the Indians came into the contest ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL and appeared to have had the game in the bag, leading 14-7 and in possession of the football with 1:37 to play.
But then another hero emerged for the Panthers. Phil Elias pounced on a fumble and three plays later, Jack Hansberry scored his second 1-yard TD of the game and Sean Martin kicked the extra point to tie the game with 35 seconds left in regulation.
“What a time (for a fumble). That was gutsy,” Kyle said of the recovery by Elias. “They made a mistake and we took advantage of it.
“All week, we prepared for everything and we were ready for it,” Kyle added of the 2-point conversion. “It’s like a zone play and we run it well. We practiced against that play all week and we made a play.”
That’s all Render could ask of Kyle and his teammates even after they fell behind, 14-0, by halftime.
“My last thing I said to my kids was to compete. Don’t wake up tomorrow and say I wish I did something,” Render said. “Things were dire but they kept competing and West-Allegheny finally made a mistake.”
The mistake cost the Indians their spot atop the conference standings. The Panthers hold that position with a 6-0 slate. They are 6-1 overall as they prepare for a non-conference clash on Oct. 13 at McKeesport. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in Class 5-A and are 5-1 overall after thrashing Kiski Area, 48-13.
While the Tigers boast Layton Jordan, who has rushed for more than 500 yards this season, and Carlinos Acie, who racked up 141 yards against the Cavaliers, the Panthers boast Colin McLinden. He stretched his way into the end zone, scoring from three yards out for the TD in overtime against West A.
McLinden leads USC with 559 yards rushing and 8 scores. Hansberry follows with 256 yards rushing and 8 scores, but he has also completed 60 of 112 passes for 981 yards and six additional touchdowns.
Mt. Lebanon vs. Peters
In preparing for a date with Peters Township (3-1, 5-2) at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in McMurray, Mt. Lebanon (4-0, 5-2) took time out to acknowledge the resurgence of its opponent’s program. The Indians are off to their best start in 14 years.
“TJ Plack and his staff have done a great job at Peters,” Lebo skipper Mike Melnyk said. “I wish them continued success … just not this week.”
Continued success is the Blue Devils’ own wish. They showed signs of improvement in outlasting Norwin, 35-20, to move atop the standings in the Southeastern Conference. Antonia LaSota rushed for 112 yards. James Stocker completed 12 of 26 aerials for 123 yards. Lucas Decaro pulled in seven receptions for 73 yards. Aidan Cain, the WPIAL’s passing leader with nearly 1,200 yards, hauled in two TD aerials of 10 and 31 yards against the Knights.
“We still have a great deal of things to improve on but we get a step closer to where we want to be each week,” Melnyk said. “We have got to limit penalties and take care of the football if we want to beat any of the remaining teams on our schedule. Inopportune penalties stall drives or continue drives for opponents and turnovers not only impacts possession, but also field position. Hidden yards are huge in football.”
Jake Cortes has been a huge reason for Peters Township’s resurgence along with the play of its newcomers. Thus, the Indians are dangerous, says Melnyk.
“Peters Township is a very good team,” Melnyk said. “They play aggressively, sound fundamentally. and have playmakers at several positions, starting with QB. Melnyk added, “Our focus will remain on our own preparation and execution.”
After dispatching Seneca Valley, 27-14, in a non-league clash, Bethel Park (3-0, 5-1) returns to Southeastern Conference action hosting Canon-McMillan (2-2, 4-3) at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13. Andrew Engel is of primary concern for the Hawks as is Elijah Kremer, who rushed for 125 yards in CM’s win, 28-21, against Shaler. Additionally, Jon Quinque passed for 133 yards and touchdown.
“They run the football and they do a good job,” BP coach Jeff Metheny said. “If you play against them, you’ve got to stop the run. If you don’t, it’s going to be a long ball game.”
With their own rushing attack, the Hawks have made games long for their opponents. Against the Raiders, Tanner Volpatti scored twice as did Jon Doleno, who also returned an interception 67 yards for another touchdown. Anthony Chiccitt completed 8 of 14 passes for 107 yards and one score, an 8-yard strike to Volpatti.
After beating New Castle, 42-33, in a rematch of last year’s WPIAL quarterfinal playoff game, South Fayette gained sole possession of first place in the Northwest Nine Conferene with a 5-0 slate. The Lions put their 54-game regular season winning streak on the line when they host Indiana at 7 p.m. Oct. 13. The Lions are 7-0 overall.
Indiana boasts Luke Thomas at quarterback and feature Carlos Carter.
“Luke is strong armed,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “He threw for a couple of touchdowns against us last year.”
The Indiana defense faces a tough assignment there as Drew Saxton comes into the contest fresh off of surpassing the 6,000-yard mark for passing in his career. He completed 14 of 19 aerials for 278 yards against the ‘Canes. Saxton stands at 1,520 yards this season on 92 completions. He has tossed 16 TDs.
Johnny Beck rushed for 147 yards and two scores against New Castle. He has 690 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Also in the win, Mike Trimbur caught a 60-yard TD from Saxton. Noah Plack hauled in two TD aerials of 25 and 5 yards. Joe Mowod also pulled in a 2-yard TD pass. Defensively, Mowod led the team with 14 tackles.