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Game of the Week

Under the weather

Laurel (28) vs. New Brighton (42)
Written: Sep 05, 2015
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By Joe Sager

New Castle News

Depth can be a huge strength for a football team.

A lack of it could be devastating.

Laurel High found that out last night as the Spartans watched New Brighton rally with four unanswered touchdowns to post a 42-28 win in the WPIAL Class AA Midwestern Athletic Conference opener for both squads.

“I thought the kids responded well the whole game,” Laurel coach Brian Cooper said. “Even at the end, they weren’t giving up. It was a good battle. New Brighton is a good football team.”

A two-hour, 12-minute lightning delay kept both teams off the field. When the game kicked off, the Lions marched to the Spartans’ 1 but fumbled the ball away.

Disaster struck for Laurel 44 seconds into the second quarter as quarterback Jake McDougal fumbled a snap. New Brighton’s Andrew Mittner scooped it up and raced 57 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Troy Moon’s 1-yard run with 7:22 left in the first half gave the Lions a 14-0 lead.

However, the Spartans struck back in a big way. McDougal got it started when he found Jacob Wilson for a 61-yard TD pass. Zach Morrison’s PAT kick cut the deficit to 14-7 with 7:04 left in the half.

Laurel’s Jordan Dantico intercepted a pass at his own 35 and returned it to the 10. After two negative rushes and an incomplete pass, McDougal hit Jesse Pacifico for a 19-yard TD pass with 1:45 on the clock. The Spartans attempted to go for two on the conversion, but the play failed to materialize and the squad trailed, 14-13.

On New Brighton’s next drive, the Lions fumbled and the hosts recovered at the 14 with 58.2 seconds on the clock. Two plays later, Matt Hudson rambled 18 yards for a TD. McDougal connected with Pacifico for the 2-point conversion and a 21-14 advantage with 42.3 seconds left.

Laurel struck quickly to open the second half. McDougal found Dantico for a short pass, but he broke two tackles and accelerated into the open for an 80-yard TD run 12 seconds into the frame for a 28-14 lead.

“You never know what’s going to happen on opening night,” New Brighton coach Joe Greco said. “It was just a great effort. We had a lot of ups and downs. We had enough mistakes for three football games, but the kids rallied and did it. I have to give Laurel a lot of credit. They wanted it and they really did some great things. They jumped on us, but we were able to fight back and make the plays to win it.”

The Lions responded with a long drive. The capped it when Justyn Francona connected with Deshawn Clark for a 27-yard TD pass. That trimmed Laurel’s lead to 28-21 with 6:14 left in the third.

A muffed snap on a punt allowed New Brighton to block the kick and recover the ball at the Spartans’ 6 with 4:07 left in the third. Two plays later, Mittner crashed in from the 3 to tie the game at 28-all with 3:33 remaining.

A long punt return set the Lions up deep in Laurel territory. One play later, Francona ran in from 10 yards out to give the guests a 35-28 lead with 1:28 on the clock.

New Brighton intercepted a pass to disrupt the Spartans’ first drive of the fourth quarter, but could not capitalize.

Laurel drove deep into Lions territory, but another interception stopped the march with 5:06 to play.

The guests put the game away with 3:17 left when Francona broke loose for a 59-yard run to push the lead to 42-28 with 3:17 to play.

An assortment of minor injuries kept the Spartans shuffling their lineup at various times on both sides of the ball through the second half. All the players who were banged up are expected to return for next week.

“We had some guys start to go out and we started putting some backups in. They’re playing hard, but they’re not getting the reps the other ones get. Miss an assignment here or miss an assignment there and they’re getting big plays offensively and defensively. That took the momentum away from us,” Cooper said. “You have different guys in there. I don’t know. We put a lot into it. We worked our butts off to get to this point and it’s disappointing right now. I know one thing, we’ll be back next week ready to roll.”

Laurel faces a tough test when power Aliquippa visits Spartan Stadium for a Week 2 battle.

“We have Aliquippa next and we’ll ready. We’ll play everybody hard and we’ll play with the people on the field,” Cooper said. “It sure would have been nice to win this game, but that’s not where we are. We have to get better and get those guys back and get ready for next week.”

McDougal paced the Spartans with 284 yards passing

“I thought Jake McDougal had a heck of a game,” Cooper said. “He threw the ball well and composed himself well in the pocket. He was back there running around and making plays happen.”



17 First downs 11

212 Yards Rushing 73

20 Yards Lost 69

192 Net Rushing 4

13 Passes Attempted 28

6 Passes Completed 16

1 Passes Intercepted 2

65 Yards Passing 284

257 Total Yards 288

5-4 Fumbles-Lost 4-1

4-36 Punts-Average 7-32.7

4-25 Penalties-Yards 4-50

NEW BRIGHTON 0 14 21 7 — 42

LAUREL 0 21 7 0 — 28

Scoring plays

NEW BRIGHTON — Andrew Mittner, 57-yard fumble return (Gavin Pritchard kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Troy Moon, 1-yard run (Pritchard kick).

LAUREL — Jacob Wilson, 61-yard pass from Jake McDougal (Zach Morrison kick).

LAUREL — Jesse Pacifico, 19-yard pass from McDougal (pass failed).

LAUREL — Matt Hudson, 8-yard run (Pacifico pass from McDougal).

LAUREL — Jordan Dantico, 80-yard pass from McDougal (Morrison kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Deshawn Clark, 27-yard pass from Jordyn Francona (Pritchard kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Mittner, 3-yard run (Pritchard kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Francona, 10-yard run (Pritchard kick).

NEW BRIGHTON — Francona, 59-yard run (Pritchard kick).
Laurel 0 21 7 0 0 28
New Brighton 0 14 21 7 0 42
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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