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Game of the Week

New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals

New Castle (55) vs. Indiana (49)
Written: Nov 08, 2008
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The rematch turned in to be the game for the ages last night.

The New Castle High football team avenged an earlier setback to Indiana by posting a 55-49 shootout victory in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals at Butler’s Art Bernardi Stadium.

“We felt coming in we could move the ball but our big concern was stopping them, which we didn’t do very well,” New Castle coach Frank Bongivengo Jr. said. “To be able to play a game in this type of atmosphere and do what we did to win, that’s a tribute to these kids.”

The Little Indians claimed a 27-18 victory over the Red Hurricane in the second week of the season.

Fourth-seeded New Castle (8-3) will meet top-seeded Thomas Jefferson (10-1) at a time, date and site to be determined by the WPIAL. It’s the ’Canes’ eighth consecutive victory.

New Castle advances to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since 1998, the last time the program won a WPIAL title. The program is searching for its 12th WPIAL championship.


The Little Indians (8-3) tied the contest at 49 on a 1-yard run by quarterback Ben Fiscus with 6:28 to play. Fiscus is a grandson of former New Castle High football star and longtime high school football coach Chuck Abramski.

“I thought there would be a lot of scoring; I knew they had a good offense and I knew we had a good offense,” Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas. “Ben did a great job for us and he did everything he could.”

Fiscus posted 207 rushing yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. He was 1 of 9 for seven yards through the air.

“I thought Fiscus can run that offense like nobody’s business,” Bongivengo said. “He showed it on the first drive and a lot more drives after that.”

The ’Canes used a time-consuming, 11-play drive to take the lead for good. Senior quarterback Michael Bongivengo, the coach’s son, ran eight yards down to the Indiana 3. On third down, he was stuffed for no gain.

New Castle called for a timeout to draw up a play that would gain the required yardage. It was no problem as Keith Keene took a pitch around the left side for a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:16 to go.

“That was a no-brainer to go for it there,” Frank Bongivengo Jr. said. “Our kicking game hasn’t been the greatest but Jajuan Jay did a heck of a job kicking extra points tonight.

“We had the play set up right. We wanted it in Keith’s hands. Once he squares his shoulders, he’s going to get it in the end zone.”

Keene finished with 187 rushing yards on 22 attempts and a pair of scores. Keene’s effort gives him 1,436 rushing yards, breaking the school’s single-season mark which was previously held by Greg Solomon set in 1983. Solomon amassed 1,407 yards on 224 attempts.

“I wanted the ball in my hands in that situation,” Keene said. “This was a great game from the start. I just knew I had to get it in the end zone.”


The ’Canes converted their first seven extra points. The string would stop with the eighth try as the snap was mishandled and the Little Indians stuffed the conversion rush to trail 55-49.

“Extra points were big all night for us,” Jay said. “I was confident I could kick a field goal if needed but I had more confidence in our offense.

“I was hoping to get the ball pitched back to me on the extra point but it never got back to me.”

Indiana took over on its own 25 with just 1:07 to play and a pair of timeouts. Fiscus converted a third down with a 10-yard run. He spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock with 45 seconds to play. After an incompletion, Fiscus appeared to connect with Jay Pettina for a first down along the sideline.

“It was just disappointing; we thought our guy was in bounds on that one pass,” Zilinskas said. “We thought he dragged his toes.”

However, the referees signaled incomplete and coaches along the Little Indians sideline were emphatic in their complaints. It was to no avail as Indiana was faced with fourth down. Fiscus fired another incompletion and the ’Canes were finally assured of a victory.

“I was just in shock when the clock hit all zeroes that we didn’t have another shot at scoring,” Zilinskas said.

New Castle trailed 21-14 late in the first half when Michael Bongivengo recorded a 2-yard touchdown run with 58.2 seconds left. However, the Little Indians quickly countered when Kyle Edgar returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to recapture a 28-21 advantage with 46.5 seconds to play.

“I think one of our guys just got out of their lanes,” Frank Bongivengo Jr. said.

The quick-strike ’Canes didn’t pack it in as Michael Bongivengo drove the team down toward the goal line. On second-and-10, he bought enough time and found Jay in the middle of the end zone for a 24-yard scoring aerial with just six-tenths of a second to play in the half. Jay outmaneuvered Kevin Stapleton for the ball.

“We just decided to grind it out there,” Michael Bongivengo said. “We knew we had to gut it out and put points on the board to stay in the game.

“The line took it upon themselves to give me time to throw the ball. Jajuan Jay just made an athletic play on the touchdown.”

Said Jay, “I was trying to get back in the end zone and he kept forcing me out. I finally got around and saw the ball and just caught it.”


New Castle took the lead at 35-28 on a 5-yard scamper by Michael Bongivengo with 8:53 left in the third quarter. He was able to push the pile into the end zone on the fourth-and-3 play.

Michael Bongivengo equaled Keene’s effort on the ground, recording 187 yards on 22 totes. He was also 9 of 15 through the air for 110 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Michael Bongivengo also tallied four rushing touchdowns.

“Our linemen are getting it done,” Michael Bongivengo said. “It feels great to be able to make those plays.”

The ’Canes’ defense recovered a Fiscus fumble on the Little Indians’ second play of their next possession. But, Michael Bongivengo was intercepted by Pettina, who returned it 28 yards for a score to knot the count at 35 with 6:53 to play in the third.

“We had a chance to put the game away and Michael made a bad decision,” Frank Bongivengo Jr. said. “That wasn’t where the ball should have been thrown; the kid made a nice break on it and picked it off.”

Indiana gambled with an onside kick and it recovered. This time, New Castle’s defense made a stand as Brandon Burley stuffed Vince Gatti on fourth down and the Little Indians turned the ball over on downs on the ’Canes’ 41.

“Friday is just a time to put the pads on make plays,” Burley said. “Our offense put it together all night and our defense came together late in the game; we played as a team and just made plays.”

New Castle rolled up 520 yards of total offense, including 410 on the ground. Indiana registered 360 yards of offense.

“I actually did expect a game like this,” Michael Bongivengo said. “I was thinking last night that they are a potent offense and we’re a potent offense. I was picturing a high scoring game.”


21 First downs 28

363 Yards Rushing 410

3 Yards Lost 0

360 Net Rushing 410

9 Passes Attempted 15

1 Passes Completed 9

0 Passes Intercepted 1

7 Yards Passing 110

367 Total Yards 520

4-2 Fumbles-Lost 1-1

0-0 Punts-Average 0-0

8-59 Penalties-Yards 9-68

INDIANA 6 22 14 7 — 49

NEW CASTLE 7 21 14 13 — 55

Scoring plays

INDIANA — Ian Jones, 47-yard run (kick failed)

NEW CASTLE — Brandon Burley, 11-yard pass from Michael Bongivengo (Jajuan kick)

INDIANA — Jay Pettina, 2-yard run (Ben Fiscus run)

NEW CASTLE — Keith Keene, 4-yard run (Jay kick)

INDIANA — Vince Gatti, 14-yard run (Christopher Simpson kick)

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

INDIANA — Kyle Edgar, 88-yard kickoff return (Simpson kick)

NEW CASTLE — Jay, 24-yard pass from Bongivengo (Jay kick)

NEW CASTLE — Bongivengo, 5-yard run (Jay kick)

INDIANA — Pettina, 28-yard interception return (Simpson kick)

NEW CASTLE — Bongivengo, 53-yard run (Jay kick)

INDIANA — Fiscus, 1-yard run (Simpson kick)

NEW CASTLE — Bongivengo, 1-yard run (Jay kick)

INDIANA — Fiscus, 6-yard run (Simpson kick)

NEW CASTLE — Keene, 3-yard run (run failed)
New Castle 7 21 14 13 0 55
Indiana 6 22 14 7 0 49
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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