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Game of the Week

New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem

New Castle (45) vs. Greensburg Salem (38)
Written: Nov 07, 2009
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GREENSBURG — Offensively, the New Castle High football team accomplished a lot last night.

The Red Hurricane racked up 339 passing yards — as well as another 225 on the ground — and 45 points.

Overall, though, those eye-popping numbers proved to be just enough as New Castle escaped Offutt Field with a thrilling 45-38 victory over Greensburg Salem in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round encounter.

The ’Canes (8-2) had no choice but to explode offensively since their defense struggled to stop the Golden Lions (8-2). Both teams combined for 931 yards and 83 points.

Despite New Castle’s efficiency with racking up yards and points, the team had plenty of deficiencies: six fumbles (two lost), eight penalties for 96 yards, one blocked punt and two Greensburg Salem fourth-down conversions, including a fake punt.

“We’ll take any type of win we can get. But, we have to play better,” said New Castle running back Keith Keene, who dashed for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “I’m very disappointed with the fumbles and penalties. We have to cut that down.”

While the ’Canes may have been able to escape with a sloppy win last night, they know they may not be as fortunate when they battle West Allegheny (8-2), a 31-17 winner over Knoch, on Friday at a site to be determined. The Indians posted a 28-21 win at New Castle earlier in the year when Mike Caputo scampered for more than 300 yards.

“It was good to get a win and it’s good to move on, so we’re happy about that,” New Castle coach Frank Bongivengo Jr. said. “This one is over and there’s nothing we can do to change anything that happened. So, we have to worry about West A.”

A majority of the ’Canes’ woes came in the first half. They raced to a 14-0 lead on a Johnny Matarazzo 1-yard run and a 34-yard pass to Darrian Rice. However, New Castle presented opportunities to the Golden Lions in the form of five fumbles (one lost) and six deflating penalties for 76 yards.

“The nightmare first half was brought on by us. We played undisciplined football and that’s what I told the kids,” Bongivengo said. “We were undisciplined and it’s going to cost us. It cost us in this game.”

The hosts crept back and knotted the game at 14 to start the second quarter. The ’Canes responded when Matarazzo hit Marcus Carter in stride for a 41-yard TD strike for a 21-14 edge with 1:56 left in the half.

Greensburg Salem seemed poised to knot the game just before halftime. However, Justin Fleo intercepted Nate Sphon’s pass at the 5 with 32 seconds remaining.

Two plays later, Fleo turned a screen pass into a 72-yard outburst before he was tackled at the Golden Lions’ 12 with five seconds left.

“I caught it and I wanted to try to go as far as I could,” Fleo said. “As soon as I got down the field, I just ran out of gas. That was as far as I could go.”

It gave Spenser Rapone adequate time to boot a 29-yard field goal to give New Castle a 24-14 edge at the intermission.

“Those are absolutely huge points,” Bongivengo said. “They could have gone in and tied the game up. Instead, we’re up by 10 at halftime. It was a huge play. Fleo did a good job pretty much all night. To his credit, he made some big plays when we needed them.”

After the Golden Lions scored on their first possession of the third quarter, Fleo sparked the ’Canes again as he ripped off a 74-yard kickoff return to the hosts’ 18. One play later, Keene jetted in for the TD and a 31-21 edge.

“As soon as they scored, I knew we had to redeem quick because this was a dogfight,” Fleo said. “There was a big hole and I took it.”

New Castle clung to its lead before Greensburg Salem marched back once again. A late touchdown in the second half and a 30-yard field goal off a recovered fumble tied the battle at 31 with 11:13 remaining.

The ’Canes took the lead on James Napier’s 1-yard plunge. After a rare defensive stop, New Castle went up, 45-31, with 3:28 to go when Keene exploded for a 40-yard TD burst on fourth down.

“The line was blocking really well and we needed that play,” Keene said.

The lead seemed safe — but, it wasn’t. The Golden Lions promptly marched down the field for a touchdown in less than two minutes to trim the deficit to 45-38.

Greensburg Salem executed an onside kick and recovered the ball on the ’Canes’ 47 with 1:43 to play. However, New Castle’s defense came up with a big stop as Rice intercepted Sphon’s fourth-down desperation pass with less than a minute to go.

“I knew our defense would come through. They struggled all night, but I knew they’d come through at the end,” Keene said. “We have to get our heads in the game and cut down the penalties. We’ll be all right.”

In addition to his long kickoff return and defensive plays, Fleo finished with six receptions for 162 yards. Matarazzo, who passed for 299 yards in the first half, completed 13 of 16 passes for 339 yards.

Greensburg’s Matt Adams, who entered the battle with 884 rushing yards on 171 carries, lugged the rock 24 times for 107 yards.

Now, the ’Canes must turn their attention to their quarterfinal matchup with West Allegheny.

“We came out with a victory and now we have to prepare for next week,” Fleo said. “West A is a tough team and we have to redeem ourselves.”


23 First downs 23

236 Yards Rushing 225

11 Yards Lost 39

225 Net Rushing 186

16 Passes Attempted 21

13 Passes Completed 12

0 Passes Intercepted 2

339 Yards Passing 181

564 Total Yards 367

6-2 Fumbles-Lost 2-0

1-17 Punts-Average 4-23.8

8-96 Penalties-Yards 2-25

NEW CASTLE 14 10 7 14 — 45

GR. SALEM 7 7 14 10 — 38

Scoring plays

NEW CASTLE — Johnny Matarazzo, 1-yard run (Spenser Rapone kick).

NEW CASTLE — Darrian Rice, 34-yard pass from Matarazzo (Rapone kick).

GREESNBURG SALEM — Nate Sphon, 26-yard run (Daine Mangery kick).

GREESNBURG SALEM — Michael Nowicki, 10-yard pass from Sphon (Mangery kick).

NEW CASTLE — Marcus Carter, 41-yard pass from Matarazzo (Rapone kick).

NEW CASTLE — Rapone, 29-yard field goal.

GREESNBURG SALEM — Vinny Mongelluzzo, 2-yard pass from Sphon (Mangery kick).

NEW CASTLE — Keith Keene, 18-yard run (Rapone kick).

GREESNBURG SALEM — Brian Riffle, 1-yard run (Mangery kick).

GREESNBURG SALEM — Mangery, 30-yard field goal.

NEW CASTLE — James Napier, 1-yard run (Rapone kick).

NEW CASTLE — Keene, 40-yard run (Rapone kick).

GREESNBURG SALEM — Sphon, 4-yard run (Mangery kick).
New Castle 14 10 7 14 0 45
Greensburg Salem 7 7 14 10 0 38
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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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