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Game of the Week

The (im)perfect season

New Castle (0) vs. Thomas Jefferson (42)
Written: Nov 19, 2016
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By Ron Poniewasz Jr.

New Castle News

PITTSBURGH — Turnovers. Inability to capitalize on opportunities. And getting beat up front on both sides of the ball.

It all spelled doom for the New Castle High football team Friday night at Heinz Field.

Quinton Hill rushed for 248 yards on 39 carries with three touchdowns to lead Thomas Jefferson to a 42-0 win over the Red Hurricane in the WPIAL Class 4A championship game.

“Our big guys played big in every big game we had. We just weren’t able to play big enough tonight against a great team. That team is like playing against Secretariat,” said fifth-year New Castle coach Joe Cowart. “That’s a fantastic group that we went up against and the task was just a little too tall for us tonight.

“It’s emotional just to be here and to be on the biggest stage. You want to play better on the biggest stage. I take notes as the game goes on and the notes I took were that we just weren’t ready on the biggest stage and I wasn’t ready on the biggest stage to achieve the ultimate goal which is to raise the gold trophy, not the silver trophy.”

The seventh-seeded ‘Canes (8-5) were competing in their first WPIAL championship game since 1998, a 14-7 decision over North Allegheny in Class AAAA action.

The top-seeded Jaguars (12-0) advance into the state playoffs and will square off against Erie Cathedral Prep in the state quarterfinals next weekend.

New Castle managed just five first downs and 63 yards of total offense on 40 plays.

“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak said. “I think it was a great team effort.”

The ‘Canes had great field position after the opening kickoff, starting at the Jaguars 42. But three plays netted three yards and they had to punt.

New Castle had a chance to pounce on the Jaguars early when Devin Sams blocked a punt on TJ’s opening drive of the game.

The ‘Canes took over at Thomas Jefferson’s 6. But New Castle quarterback Geno Stone was stopped for a two-yard loss on first down and a false start penalty pushed the ‘Canes back to the 12 on second down.

Stone was picked off at the goal line on second down by Virginia recruit Zane Zandier to thwart the early opportunity.

“We just couldn’t get on track offensively,” Stone said.

Said Cowart, “I thought TJ, throughout the course of the year, showed that resilience in the red zone. We saw that through the course of the playoffs quite a bit. People were able to move the ball inside the 20, but not really able to capitalize on moments. That’s a testament to how good they are defensively. We certainly felt we missed some opportunities early, which maybe makes it a different ballgame. We left some things on the table, certainly, but I am so proud of the young men and the fight they had throughout the season.”

The teams battled to a scoreless duel through one quarter. But Jaguars running back Quinton Hill was starting to take his toll on the New Castle defense.

Hill finished with 248 yards rushing on 39 carries and three touchdowns. He notched 57 of his rushing yards in the opening quarter and 66 more in the second stanza with a touchdown. His eight-yard touchdown run with 6:34 left in the second quarter opened the scoring and Thomas Campbell converted the first of his six extra points for a 7-0 margin.

The ‘Canes had a shot to get on the board late in the half when they took over at their own 30 with 1:01 to go. But Noah Palmer stepped in front of a Stone pass and corralled the aerial after juggling it and raced in for a 20-yard touchdown with 57 seconds left in the half.

“Any time you have a turnover for a touchdown, it’s a big play just because of the energy that it gives the opposing team,” Cowart said. “You don’t want to spot them one and it felt like we spotted them one walking into halftime.

“Certainly, it was a big moment, but not a killer. Championship-quality teams answer and we didn’t have enough answers. Tip your cap to a very well-coached football team with a bunch of very skilled players. It wasn’t a surprise they made a big play because they’ve done that throughout the course of the season. I think we were slightly surprised we weren’t able to answer where we had answers over and over again throughout the course of the playoffs.”

New Castle went into the half with no first downs and just 62 yards of offense on 23 plays. Thomas Jefferson had 14 first downs and 144 yards of offense.

“That’s the best football team we’ve played and we think we’ve played some good football teams throughout the course of the season,” Cowart said. “They were physically imposing.

“We didn’t do a good enough job on both sides of the ball taking the fight to them. Not only are they a big and physical team, but the speed at which they play is impressive with the size they have.”

The Jaguars took the second-half kickoff and marched 52 yards on nine plays, capped off by a one-yard plunge by Hill. The Campbell conversion pushed the deficit to 21-0 with 7:06 left in the third.

“These are young men playing a game,” Cowart said. “The big moments there in the pick six and the big drive to open the third quarter, those are the things that will be the difference in the night, without a doubt.

“You have to find something good and we just weren’t able to find something or capitalize on the things that we did throughout the course of the game.”

Said New Castle’s Giovanni Eggleston, “As a linebacker, both their offensive and defensive lines took control of the game. That’s where we lost.”

Stone finished 1 of 13 through the air for 18 yards and three interceptions. Marshane McElroy was on the receiving end of Stone’s first-quarter completion.

“Geno and I normally don’t have a tough time completing passes,” said ‘Canes senior Garrett Farah. “Their secondary was just really good.”

(Email: rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com)

NEW CASTLE T.J.

5 First downs 19

70 Yards Rushing 331

25 Yards Lost 5

45 Net Rushing 326

13 Passes Attempted 5

1 Passes Completed 3

3 Passes Intercepted 0

18 Yards Passing 58

63 Total Yards 384

1-0 Fumbles-Lost 1-1

7-26 Punts-Average 3-26

4-20 Penalties-Yards 5-57

NEW CASTLE 0 0 0 0 — 0

T. JEFFERSON 0 14 14 14 — 42

Scoring plays

THOMAS JEFFERSON — Quinton Hill, 8-yard run (Thomas Campbell kick).

THOMAS JEFFERSON — Noah Palmer, 20-yard interception return (Campbell kick).

THOMAS JEFFERSON — Hill, 1-yard run (Campbell kick).

THOMAS JEFFERSON — Hill, 2-yard run (Campbell kick).

THOMAS JEFFERSON — Zane Zandier, 5-yard pass from Bobby Kelley (Campbell kick).

THOMAS JEFFERSON — Shane Stump, 17-yard run (Campbell kick).
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
New Castle 0 0 0 0 0 0
Thomas Jefferson 0 14 14 14 0 42
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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