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Game of the Week

Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid

Neshannock (35) vs. Shenango (14)
Written: Sep 21, 2013
By Corey J. Corbin

New Castle News

Neshannock High standout Ernie Burkes did everything but sell popcorn last night.

The senior rushed for a pair of touchdowns, returned a punt for a score and caught a pass for a fourth touchdown as the Lancers escaped their WPIAL Class A Big Seven clash with Shenango with a 35-14 victory at Bob Bleggi Stadium.

“He’s a flat-out playmaker,” Lancers coach Fred Mozzocio said. “He did a great job tonight. When we were in danger, we went to him and he responded. That’s what we expect out of him. He’s one of our senior leaders and he responded.”

After Neshannock (3-1, 3-1) forced the Wildcats into a three-and-out to start the game, Burkes caught the Shenango punt, picked up some blocks and raced down the Lancers sideline for a 51-yard score. Jason Owrey booted the first of five extra points for a 7-0 lead.

“That was the second time I was on punt return all year,” Burkes said. “I caught the ball and my job was to run around the left side and I saw my big boys coming. I followed them, because they were hitting people. After that, I just kept running.”

The score stayed 7-0 through the remainder of the first half despite the Lancers twice entering the red zone — in addition to a lost fumble in Wildcats territory. Neshannock turned the ball over on downs on one possession and had another end on a lost fumble recovered by Shenango defensive lineman Alonzo Regna.

“The defense played tremendous,” said Shenango coach Mike Commesso, whose team fell to 1-3 in the conference and 1-3 overall. “They didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the third quarter. They scored on a punt return.”

The Wildcats made a game of it on their opening drive of the second half by driving 65 yards in eight plays before scoring on Anthony Prestopine’s one-yard burst. Prestopine handed Shenango a brief 8-7 lead by running in the two-point conversion.

Five plays later, Burkes caught his first pass of the season for a 39-yard touchdown from freshman Frank Antuono.

“We went over that all week, because I was like ‘Coach, you gotta get me a pass, because I’m really hungry for one,’ ” Burkes said. “I know little Franky Antuono can really throw the ball pretty well for a freshman.

“I saw the ball go into the backfield. Franky picked up the ball and motioned for me to keep going. He winged it and I kept running. I had Tyler Welsh on me, but I got him turned around. I tried to jump at the last second to catch it and it worked out to my advantage.”

Shenango capitalized on a Neshannock turnover late in the third quarter by scoring on a 20-yard Brian Tanner keeper to knot the score at 14-all after a missed extra point.

“They’re pretty big between the tackles, so in the second half, we tried to work the perimeter a little more,” Commesso said. “It was good to us. That was the main change we made at half time.”

The fourth quarter was all Neshannock as Burkes scored twice more on 1- and 75-yard runs, while Gianni Oliva provided his third score in two weeks from three yards out.

“I think what happened was they wore us down at the end,” Commesso said. “We had two or three linemen go down. That’s how they popped a couple at the end — just tremendous effort. It was 14-14 heading into the fourth quarter, so yeah, it’s something we can be proud of and build on, but it’s not something we can be satisfied with.”

Oliva led all rushers with 124 yards on 10 carries — all in the second half — while Eli Owens and Burkes added 91 and 87 rushing yards, respectively.

“We have Eli, we have Gianni and we have a couple other backs,” Mozzocio said. “People want to know why Gianni is in there at times. I think people found out tonight. He’s one of the best backs around and when his number is called, he’s ready to perform. He’s a load to bring down. He’s shifty. He’s a knuckleballer. He’s more of a Jerome Bettis type. I wouldn’t want to tackle him.”



9 First downs 13

158 Yards Rushing 339

27 Yards Lost 27

131 Net Rushing 312

13 Passes Attempted 16

6 Passes Completed 11

0 Passes Intercepted 0

74 Yards Passing 86

205 Total Yards 398

1-0 Fumbles-Lost 6-3

5-40.2 Punts-Average 1-15

9-50 Penalties-Yards 7-31

SHENANGO 0 0 14 0 — 14

NESHANNOCK 7 0 7 21 — 35

Scoring plays

NESHANNOCK — Ernie Burkes, 51-yard punt return (Jason Owrey kick).

SHENANGO — Anthony Prestopine, 1-yard run (Prestopine run).

NESHANNOCK — Burkes, 39-yard pass from Frank Antuono (Owrey kick).

SHENANGO — Brian Tanner, 20-yard run (kick failed).

NESHANNOCK — Burkes, 1-yard run (Owrey kick).

NESHANNOCK — Burkes, 75-yard run (Owrey kick).

NESHANNOCK — Gianni Oliva, 3-yard run (Owrey kick).

Neshannock 7 0 7 21 0 35
Shenango 0 0 14 0 0 14
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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