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Game of the Week

'We battled to the end'

Mohawk (18) vs. New Brighton (28)
Written: Oct 26, 2013
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By Corey J. Corbin

New Castle News

The Mohawk High football team has been known to make a big play or two on special teams.

The Warriors made some key plays on special teams last night, but it was a routine play that ultimately cost them.

Visiting New Brighton shocked Mohawk by returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown as the first-half clock expired and then held off a furious Warriors comeback for a 28-18 WPIAL Class AA Midwestern Athletic Conference victory.

“All we’ll remember is the negative one,” Mohawk coach Joe Lamenza said. “That kickoff return with three seconds left was a killer. Special teams have always been a positive for us. We’re usually the ones making plays on special teams. Unfortunately, we gave a big one up and that’s uncharacteristic of us.”

The win propelled the Lions (5-2, 6-3) into third place behind Aliquippa and Beaver Falls in the MAC and eliminated the Warriors (3-4, 3-6) from playoff contention.

“Obviously, it’s not the result we wanted, but I’m proud of the kids,” Lamenza said. “We battled to the end, but it is what it is. It’s a tough loss. We’re satisfied with the progress we made this year, but we’re not satisfied. Every year, these kids have gotten a little better in the conference and the bar was raised again. We’ll build on it next year.”

The Lions struck first when Craig Johnson hauled in a Payton Fath aerial, spun out of a Mohawk arm-tackle and raced 23 yards to the end zone with 4:22 left in the first quarter.

It appeared the score would remain 7-0 at halftime, but Mohawk senior Travis Giardina blocked New Brighton’s punt with under a minute to play in the half and was recovered by Jon Kent at the Lions’ 1.

Michael Kurtz hauled in a Gio Menichino pass from 11 yards out with just over 3 seconds left to pull Mohawk to within 7-6 after the extra point was partially blocked.

Mohawk’s momentum was short-lived when Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for the touchdown and a 14-6 lead as time expired.

“That’s a great way to end the half isn’t it,” New Brighton coach Joe Greco asked rhetorically. “It was electric. Craig’s an electric player.”

A 6-yard scoring strike from Fath to Jesse Sabol in the third quarter and a Fath 7-yard run early in the fourth handed the Lions a 28-6 lead.

From there, it was all Mohawk.

Shane McFarland sparked an otherwise-dormant Warriors offense by covering 89 yards on two runs — the last a 25-yard scoring sprint with 6:22 remaining in the game to pull Mohawk to within 16 at 28-12 after the two-point conversion pass fell harmlessly to the turf.

McFarland finished the game with 121 yards on 15 carries.

“He’s the toughest player I’ve ever coached and that includes my years as a college coach (at Robert Morris),” Lamenza said. “He’s the definition of a Warrior and we’re going to miss him.”

The Warriors defense held on New Brighton’s ensuing possession, forcing the Lions to punt. McFarland made them pay by returning the punt 78 yards for a touchdown. Menichino’s pass on the ensuing two-point conversion, which would have pulled Mohawk to within 28-20, was incomplete.

“We were trying to use up clock,” Greco said. “When you go up 21 points, you try to put the game away — that didn’t happen. We had some fumbles, some breakdowns and No. 24 (McFarland) got a hold of the ball and broke two (long runs). All of a sudden, we were in a game.”

New Brighton’s much-maligned defense stifled Mohawk’s offense through three quarters, forcing six three-and-outs. The Warriors finished the game with 160 yards of total offense with 117 coming in the fourth quarter.

“The kids did a great job,” Greco said. “We had some defensive stands in some clutch situations. We let No. 24 break once, which isn’t bad. He’s a great back. We had a lot of guys make a lot of great plays. We have to step up and be better defensively if we’re going to compete in the playoffs.”

Meanwhile, the typically pass-happy Lions were content to keep the ball on the ground and in the hands of Fath and running back Scott Florence.

Fath led all rushers with 112 yards on 20 carries, while completing 9-of-16 passes for 99 yards. Florence tacked on 103 yards on 24 totes.

“The scouting report says they favor the run over the pass,” Lamenza said. “I think it’s a little misnomer that they favor the pass. Even when (injured starting quarterback Gabe) Greco was healthy, they were running the ball quite a bit. They were spreading the ball out with the run. In the games we had on them, they were 65 percent pass and 35 percent run, so it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. We just needed to do a better job tackling.”

Giardina, Ricky Malutic and Chris Culley recovered fumbles for Mohawk, while Christian Holmes recovered an onside kick in the fourth quarter.

(Email: C_Corbin@ncnewsonline.com)

NEW BRIGHTON MOHAWK

19 First downs 5

255 Yards Rushing 125

22 Yards Lost 25

233 Net Rushing 100

16 Passes Attempted 17

9 Passes Completed 7

0 Passes Intercepted 0

139 Yards Passing 60

372 Total Yards 160

3-3 Fumbles-Lost 1-0

2-44 Punts-Average 5-33.8

5-19 Penalties-Yards 6-23

NEW BRIGHTON 7 7 7 7 — 28

MOHAWK 0 6 0 12 — 18

Scoring plays

NEW BRIGHTON — Craig Thompson, 23-yard pass from Payton Fath (Gavin Pritchard kick).

MOHAWK — Michael Kurtz, 11-yard touchdown pass from Gio Menichino (kick blocked).

NEW BRIGHTON — Thompson, 90-yard kickoff return (Pritchard kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Jesse Sabol, 6-yard pass from Fath (Pritchard kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Fath, 7-yard run (Pritchard kick).

MOHAWK — Shane McFarland, 25-yard run (pass failed).

MOHAWK — McFarland, 78-yard punt return (pass failed).
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Mohawk 0 6 0 12 0 18
New Brighton 7 7 7 7 0 28
GAME OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
One step short 12/3/16 Neshannock season comes to end 11/27/16 The (im)perfect season 11/19/16 WPIAL championship game 11/18/16 New Castle advances to WPIAL Class 4A title game 11/11/16 Neshannock routs Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Neshannock hosts Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Thriller 10/28/16 Union at Shenango 10/28/16 'Canes stumble; playoff berth on line in finale 10/21/16 New Castle hosts Ringgold on Senior Night 10/21/16 Wilmington falls in battle of unbeatens 10/15/16 Wilmington at Hickory 10/13/16 On the defensive 10/8/16 Neshannock hosts Riverside 10/7/16 New Castle struggles in home loss to Mars 9/30/16 New Castle hosts Mars 9/30/16 'Canes hope to even score against Mars 9/30/16 Stayin' alive 9/23/16 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/23/16 Ground assault 9/17/16 Wilmington hosts Sharpsville 9/16/16 Too many mistakes for Laurel 9/10/16 Riverside travels to Laurel 9/9/16 Neshannock routs North Catholic 9/3/16 Canes quipped 8/31/16 A good mix 8/27/16 Black Friday 11/14/15 Wilmington vs. Cambridge Springs 11/13/15 Defense steps up for Lancers 11/7/15 Neshannock vs. Bentworth 11/5/15 No doubt about it 10/31/15 Neshannock vs. Union 10/30/15 Crowning effort 10/24/15 Shenango vs. Riverside 10/23/15 Playoff hopes dashed 10/17/15 Laurel vs. Beaver 10/16/15 A costly brawl 10/10/15 New Castle vs. Central Valley 10/9/15 Inching closer 10/3/15 Union vs. Shenango 10/2/15 'They had us on our heels' 9/26/15 South Side Beaver at Union 9/25/15 Shootout 9/19/15 Neshannock at Riverside 9/18/15 Pivotal 9/13/15 Neshannock, Shenango clash Saturday 9/11/15 Under the weather 9/5/15 New Brighton at Laurel 9/4/15 Heartbreaker 11/15/14 Neshannock vs. Clairton 11/14/14 Weathering the storm 11/8/14 Neshannock vs. Jeannette 11/7/14 Fast and furious 11/1/14 Springdale at Shenango 10/31/14 Opportunity lost 10/25/14 Sharpsville at Wilmington 10/24/14 One for the books 10/18/14 Ellwood City at Laurel 10/17/14 Ground war 10/11/14 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/10/14 Drenched with happiness 10/4/14 South Side Beaver at Shenango 10/3/14 The perfect storm 9/27/14 Moon at New Castle 9/26/14 Coming up short 9/20/14 West Middlesex at Wilmington 9/19/14 Back in the saddle 9/13/14 Neshannock at Riverside 9/12/14 Tough act to follow 9/6/14 New Brighton at Ellwood City 9/5/14 'We will get better' 8/30/14 West Allegheny vs. New Castle 8/29/14 End of the road 11/16/13 Neshannnock vs. North Catholic 11/15/13 'Sharks in a frenzy' 11/9/13 Lancers advance to WPIAL semifinals 11/9/13 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/13 The best defense 11/2/13 Neshannock vs. Brentwood 11/1/13 'We battled to the end' 10/26/13 New Brighton at Mohawk 10/25/13 Costly blunders 10/19/13 Sto-Rox at Laurel 10/18/13 West Allegheny rallies in fourth to defeat 'Canes 10/12/13 West Allegheny at New Castle 10/11/13 Mohawk wins thriller behind McConahy, Barber 10/5/13 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/4/13 Spartans ride big second half to win over Union 9/28/13 Laurel at Union 9/27/13 Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid 9/21/13 Shenango at Neshannock 9/20/13 So close ... 9/13/13 Neshannock at Sto-Rox 9/12/13 Run to glory 9/7/13 Laurel at Neshannock 9/6/13 Dando, Spartans roll over South Side Beaver 9/5/13 South Side Beaver vs. Laurel 8/30/13 Turnovers spell doom for Wilmington in D-10 title game 11/26/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 11/24/12 Caught in a 'Bear' trap 11/17/12 Neshannock vs. Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals 11/15/12 Neshannock advances 11/10/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/12 Neshannock advances 11/3/12 Neshannock vs. Jefferson-Morgan 11/2/12 Down and out 10/27/12 New Castle at Hopewell 10/26/12 Pugh paces Wilmington to win over Sharon 10/22/12 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/19/12 Mohawk falls to Beaver 10/13/12 Beaver vs. Mohawk 10/12/12 ‘We tip our hats to them’ 10/8/12 Neshannock at Rochester 10/5/12 Big-play display for Union 9/29/12 Union vs. Laurel 9/28/12 Lancers rout Shenango for fourth win 9/24/12 Blend of old, new sparks Union win 9/22/12 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/21/12 ’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory 9/15/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/14/12 Milestone victory 9/10/12 New Castle at Riverside 9/7/12 699 and counting 9/1/12 New Castle vs. Central Valley 8/31/12 Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington 11/21/11 Wilmington vs. General McLane 11/17/11 End of the dream 11/12/11 Ellwood vs. Greensburg Central 11/11/11 Ellwood advances 11/5/11 Ellwood City vs. Freeport 11/4/11 Mixed reviews 10/29/11 New Castle vs. Blackhawk 10/28/11 Wilmington rolls to Region 3 title 10/22/11 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/21/11 It's Polka time 10/15/11 Ellwood City vs. Laurel 10/14/11 Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City 10/8/11 Aliquippa vs. Ellwood City 10/7/11 Wilmington holds on for thrilling win over Hickory 10/1/11 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/30/11 Union pulls away for win over South Side Beaver 9/24/11 South Side Beaver at Union 9/23/11 Big plays spell doom for New Castle 9/17/11 Central Valley vs. New Castle 9/16/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Neshannock vs. Serra Catholic 9/9/11 New Castle suffers disappointing loss in opener 9/3/11 New Castle vs. Butler 9/2/11 Sharon ends Wilmington’s dominance 11/22/10 ‘Underdog’ Greyhounds move on to a rematch with Sharon 11/15/10 Wilmington vs. North East 11/12/10 Tough lesson 11/6/10 WPIAL Playoffs: Ellwood vs. South Fayette 11/5/10 Wolverines earn playoff berth 10/30/10 Riverside at Ellwood City 10/29/10 'Hounds lose heartbreaker 10/23/10 Wilmington at Sharon 10/22/10 Wolverines outlast Spartans 10/16/10 Laurel at Ellwood City 10/15/10 'Canes fall to Parkway foe Hopewell 10/9/10 New Castle to battle Hopewell 10/8/10 Lancers fall to Western Beaver 10/2/10 Western Beaver at Neshannock 10/1/10 Wolverines fall to Beaver 9/25/10 Beaver at Ellwood City 9/24/10 Shenango runs past South Side 9/20/10 Greyhounds lay hammer down on Greenville 9/11/10 Wilmington vs. Greenville 9/10/10 New Castle comes through 9/4/10 New Castle vs. Butler 9/4/10 Memorable run ends for Wilmington football team 12/14/09 Wilmington vs. Greensburg Catholic 12/11/09 Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington vs. Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington blanks Sharon 11/28/09 Wilmington vs. Sharon 11/27/09 Laurel season ends with setback 11/21/09 Laurel vs. Clairton in WPIAL semifinals 11/20/09 West Allegheny ends New Castle’s season 11/14/09 New Castle vs. West Allegheny 11/13/09 New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem 11/7/09 New Castle at Greensburg Salem 11/6/09 Wilmington routs Slippery Rock 10/30/09 Slippery Rock at Wilmington 10/30/09 Shenango blanks Union 10/24/09 Shenango at Union 10/23/09 Spartans overwhelm Monaca 10/17/09 Monaca at Laurel 10/16/09 Mohawk outlasts Ellwood City 10/10/09 Mohawk at Ellwood City 10/9/09 Rochester turns back Laurel in battle of unbeatens 10/3/09 Laurel at Rochester 10/2/09 Laurel opportunistic against Neshannock 9/26/09 Neshannock at Laurel 9/25/09 New Castle ends streak against Blackhawk 9/19/09 New Castle hosts Blackhawk 9/18/09 New Castle passes test against Indiana 9/12/09 Indiana at New Castle 9/11/09 Ellwood comes up short against Freedom 9/5/09 Freedom at Ellwood 9/4/09 Wilmington wins PIAA title! 12/15/08 'Hounds headed for Hershey 12/6/08 Wilmington vs. Aliquippa 12/5/08 Wilmington holds off Martinsburg Central 11/29/08 Wilmington edges Slippery Rock for District 10 title 11/24/08 "Down and Out" 11/19/08 New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals 11/8/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/7/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/6/08 New Castle routs Franklin Regional 11/1/08 Franklin Regional at New Castle 11/1/08 Laurel wins, but not enough 10/25/08 Shenango at Laurel 10/25/08 New Castle routs Ambridge 10/18/08 Ambridge at New Castle 10/18/08 Rochester blanks Neshannock 10/11/08 Wilmington handles Sharon 10/4/08 South Side Beaver blanks Neshannock 9/27/08 Neshannock vs. South Side Beaver 9/27/08 Neshannock holds off Laurel 9/20/08 Rochester blanks Union 9/13/08 Union-Rochester 9/12/08 Mohawk routs New Brighton 9/6/08 Butler outlasts New Castle 8/30/08
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