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Game of the Week

Spartans ride big second half to win over Union

Union (19) vs. Laurel (20)
Written: Sep 28, 2013
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By Corey J. Corbin

New Castle News

Some teams like to say they’re a second-half team when they’re not.

When the Laurel High football team says the second half is its bread and butter, it’s not lying.

The Spartans (3-1, 4-1) needed yet another big second-half performance to steal a 20-19 win from Union in a WPIAL Class A Big Seven showdown at Socs Roussos Stadium last night.

“Geez, oh man, I’m getting old fast,” Laurel coach Pat Cuba said. “Give credit to Union. They did a great job. They deserved to win the game, but my kids didn’t quit. They haven’t, nor will they. Every week, we’ll get into a situation where we’re up by one touchdown or something like that. In the fourth quarter, we’re ready to play. A lot of that has to do with our conditioning program in the summertime. It’s really paying off now.”

Union running back Jordan Best ripped off a 73-yard touchdown run to hand the Scotties a 12-point advantage and all the momentum at 19-7 with 10:20 left in the third quarter, but from then on, it was all Laurel.

“We said ‘We’re going to overcome. We’re going to overcome,’ ” Cuba said. “We preached that at halftime. We told the seniors ‘You have to step up and make a statement.’ We left them alone and they made a statement.”

Following Best’s touchdown scamper, Union got a steady diet of Laurel’s Matty Conway, who carried the ball nine straight times for 32 yards, before Christopher Peluso went through a gaping hole between Eric Leasure and Alec Covelli for a 27-yard touchdown. The score stayed at 19-13 when the extra point attempt clanged off the left upright.

Union answered almost immediately when David Sadler took a simple screen pass 69 yards on third-and-9 to the Laurel 10, but Josh Dando intercepted Anthony Rush’s first down pass in the back of the endz one to end the threat.

“It’s a tough spot,” said Union coach Stacy Robinson, who watched Dando end a fourth-quarter drive and Kyle Forbes halt the Scotties’ last possession with interceptions. “Anthony did a good job. He was putting the ball on people at times and at other times, he didn’t. That’s what happens when it’s your first year as a starting quarterback.”

Dando’s second interception handed the Spartans a short field to work with, trailing by six and just over five minutes left in the game.

After Brady Stewart sacked Dando on first down, Conway carried the rock the next five plays, covering 41 yards and scoring from 5 yards out. Noah Wertz tacked on the game-winning extra point.

“Matty did a great job of running the football,” said Cuba of Conway, who finished with 102 yards on 31 carries. “He’s a hard-nosed kid with great vision. When you give him the football, he makes something happen. If you need one, he’ll give you one and a half. He does whatever it takes. I thought the fullbacks did a nice job of leading and I can’t forget the o-line. They did a nice job.”

Both teams struggled offensively in the first quarter — Union to gain positive yardage and Laurel to stop fumbling. The Scotties had -16 yards rushing in the first quarter, while the Spartans had four first-quarter fumbles — including three on the option pitch — losing one.

“I told these kids coming into this game that you’ve got to treat this game like a playoff game and we treated it like it was our first game or first scrimmage,” said Cuba, whose team had seven fumbles. “It was just one of those things where anything that could go wrong went wrong. We had problems with the snap. God bless our center, we put him in this week. He did a great job, but we put in him in a bad situation.

“(The option pitch) is something that we work on all the time. We have to get that ironed out.”

While Laurel continued to struggle offensively, Union ironed out its offensive kinks in the second quarter, scoring on 19- and 25-yard touchdown passes from Rush to Benjamin Young for a 13-7 lead at halftime.

“You come up with a plan and you work the plan,” Robinson said. “In our offense, we like to do multiple things, because we have to. We have to mix it up, because we’re not big enough or strong enough to run it down your throat.

“Ben has a natural gift. He’s been blessed and there’s no shame in being blessed like that. He can track the ball when it’s in the air and he can adjust. He can run. He’s a big-time football player. I think people are starting to realize that each week.”

After the first Rush to Young touchdown, Dando broke free for a 41-yard run, but was stripped from behind. The ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by Laurel tight end Joseph Haybarger to knot the score at 7.

Robinson vowed the Scotties (1-3, 2-3) aren’t “knocked out” of playoff contention just yet.

“All losses are tough to swallow, but this one is a big gulper,” he said. “We had opportunities to win, but we didn’t get it done. In the end, we have no one to blame but ourselves. As a team, we all came up short, but I’m proud of my guys. It’s a shame they had to lose the game. I feel bad for them.

“We’ve been knocked down, but we haven’t been knocked out. We can still get back up again. We have to keep winning. Is it preposterous to think we can win out? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

(Email: C_Corbin@ncnewsonline.com)

LAUREL UNION

9 First downs 7

236 Yards Rushing 184

54 Yards Lost 73

182 Net Rushing 111

7 Passes Attempted 15

2 Passes Completed 7

0 Passes Intercepted 3

16 Yards Passing 158

198 Total Yards 269

7-1 Fumbles-Lost 2-0

4-38.8 Punts-Average 4-33

5-40 Penalties-Yards 5-30

LAUREL 0 7 6 7 — 20

UNION 0 13 6 0 — 19

Scoring plays

UNION — Benjamin Young, 19-yard pass from Anthony Rush (Young kick).

LAUREL — Joseph Haybarger, fumble recovery in end zone (Noah Wertz kick).

UNION — Young, 25-yard pass from Rush (kick failed).

UNION — Jordan Best, 73-yard run (pass failed).

LAUREL — Christopher Peluso, 27-yard run (kick failed).

LAUREL — Matty Conway, 5-yard run (Wertz kick).
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Union 0 13 6 0 0 19
Laurel 0 7 6 7 0 20
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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