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Game of the Week

New Castle routs Franklin Regional

New Castle (53) vs. Franklin Regional (20)
Written: Nov 01, 2008
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Survive and advance.

Last night, the New Castle High football team dominated and advanced.

The Red Hurricane forced five turnovers and turned them into 34 points in posting a 53-20 victory over Franklin Regional in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at Taggart Stadium.

“The defense did a great job,” New Castle coach Frank Bongivengo Jr. said. “We let down a little bit and gave them a couple of plays there.

“When you force five turnovers in the first half, you can’t complain the way your defense is playing. The defense is the key. If we’re going to keep winning games in the playoffs, it’s going to be the defense that does it for us.”

It was the seventh straight win for New Castle (7-3).

All of the Panthers’ turnovers came in the first half as New Castle built a commanding 47-6 advantage. The second half was played under the mercy rule.

“I knew going in there were two things that we couldn’t do. We couldn’t turn it over and try and combat their speed by staying in lanes was another,” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. “In the first half, we didn’t do that. I knew their speed going in was amazing; they have kids that can fly.”

It’s the first playoff victory for New Castle since 2002 when it knocked off West Mifflin, 42-14.

The ’Canes, seeded fourth, will square off against Indiana (8-2), a 21-6 victor over Trinity, at a time, date and site to be announced by the WPIAL. The Little Indians defeated New Castle in the second week, 27-18.

“The kids were excited about that chance to play Indiana,” Frank Bongivengo Jr. said. “When we went up there the last time to play them, I don’t believe we had the same team then what we do now; I think we’re much better.

“They really want to redeem themselves.”


New Castle didn’t waste any time taking control. Franklin Regional’s Josh Rager fumbled on the game’s second play and Brandon Burley scooped up the loose ball and dashed 43 yards for a touchdown. The ’Canes held a 7-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game.

It was the first of three fumble recoveries for Burley, who later added an interception.

“The fumbles were just our linemen getting to the ball and making the plays the way they know how,” Burley said. “The first one was wide open. I just picked it up and headed for the end zone; it was a scoop and score.”

Said Bongivengo, “That ball was bouncing around and he came in and scooped and scored. That was a good job and we teach that scoop and score.”

Burley recovered his second fumble on Franklin Regional’s next play from scrimmage setting up New Castle at the Panthers’ 20, just 58 seconds in.

“What else can you ask for? Since we’ve moved him to free safety he’s become more and more comfortable back there, he’s getting better and better every week,” Bongivengo said. “He can really play that position well.”

Senior quarterback Michael Bongivengo capped that short drive off with a six-yard scamper for a 13-0 lead.

“Our offense was executing well all game,” said the coach’s son. “Our line opened up holes for us to make big plays.”


It appeared Franklin Regional (5-5) was poised to get back in the game. The Panthers drove 55 yards on their next drive down to the ’Canes’ 10. However, E.J. Padula snared a pass at the goal line and raced 100 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown with 4:46 to play in the opening quarter.

“We didn’t take it in there and that was huge,” Botta said. “That’s a two-touchdown swing; that could have been a 13-7 game and we have a fighting chance.”

Franklin Regional ran 20 plays in the first quarter to just six for the ’Canes but trailed 27-0 after the first 12 minutes.

“Our defense gets better and better every day,” Burley said. “We work hard at it.

“The coaches stress getting to the ball and making tackles, gang tackling.”


Keith Keene helped New Castle put the game further out of reach in the second quarter. Keene amassed 174 yards rushing on seven carries in the first half and 181 total for the game on nine attempts.

“When I get out there I just feel that nobody is going to tackle me,” Keene said. “Every play I feel I’m going to break it.”

Most of Keene’s damage was done in the second quarter as he recorded a 55-yard touchdown run and a 45-yard scoring scamper.

“Keith has great vision,” the coach said. “When he gets out there, he can make you look bad.

“His feet never stop. People don’t realize that he runs hard. When he gets into the pile, not very often does he get knocked backwards. When he gets in that second gear he can run by a lot of folks.”


The Panthers did contain New Castle’s vaunted aerial attack. Michael Bongivengo completed just 3 of 9 passes for 39 yards. He did rush for 39 yards on six attempts with three touchdowns.

“Once we put up 21 quick ones we didn’t really have to throw the ball,” the quarterback said. “They did a few different blitzes, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.”

Said the coach, “I didn’t like the way we threw the ball tonight. It was a little bit shaky and we made some bad decisions. We have to get back to throwing the ball well.”

The Panthers led in most statistical categories, but turnovers was the one that set the tone for the contest.


15 First downs 11

168 Yards Rushing 202

5 Yards Lost 18

163 Net Rushing 184

21 Passes Attempted 9

10 Passes Completed 3

2 Passes Intercepted 0

140 Yards Passing 39

303 Total Yards 223

3-3 Fumbles-Lost 0-0

2-33 Punts-Average 3-26

4-14 Penalties-Yards 5-50


NEW CASTLE 27 20 0 6 — 53

Scoring plays

NEW CASTLE — Brandon Burley, 43-yard fumble return (Jajuan Jay kick).

NEW CASTLE — Michael Bongivengo, 6-yard run (run failed).

NEW CASTLE — E.J. Padula, 100-yard interception return (Bongivengo run).

NEW CASTLE — Keith Keene, 55-yard run (kick blocked).

NEW CASTLE — Keene, 45-yard run (run failed).

NEW CASTLE — Bongivengo, 38-yard run (Jay kick).

FRANKLIN REGIONAL — D.J. Capezzuto, 34-yard pass from Anthony Vendemia (pass failed).

NEW CASTLE — Bongivengo, 2-yard run (Jay kick).

FRANKLIN REGIONAL — Ryan Mohoci, 8-yard pass from Steve Liberatore (Nathaniel Ondeck kick).

NEW CASTLE — Justin Fleo, 61-yard run (kick blocked).

FRANKLIN REGIONAL — Mohoci, 77-yard kickoff return (Ondeck kick).
New Castle 27 20 0 6 0 53
Franklin Regional 0 6 0 14 0 20
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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