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Game of the Week

Costly blunders

Laurel (17) vs. Sto-Rox (28)
Written: Oct 19, 2013
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By Ron Poniewasz Jr.

New Castle News

Mistakes can make the difference between winning and losing in high school football.

That was the case last night for Laurel High.

The host Spartans turned the ball over five times, including once inside the Sto-Rox 5, in a 28-17 WPIAL Class A Big Seven Conference loss.

“We told them we couldn’t afford to make the mistakes we made, obviously, and we did,” first-year Laurel coach Pat Cuba said. “That’s kind of what hurt us.

“We still have an opportunity to accomplish a lot here. There’s no moral victories here. I’m not satisfied with losing to Sto-Rox. We want to play them again. That’s what the kids are saying. We have to get them again.”

The win clinches the conference championship for the Vikings (7-0 conference, 8-0 overall). Sto-Rox is ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class A by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 3 in the state poll by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

Sto-Rox rolled to a 43-0 verdict over the Spartans last year.

“I think people might say Laurel is for real,” Cuba said. “That’s kind of what I told these guys. Go out and play hard. Things will happen.”

The Spartans (5-2, 6-2) fumbled the ball eight times and lost three of them. All of those fumbles came in the first half.

“Part of it was just getting Pasquale Antonio in there, he’s been out for a little while,” Cuba said. “We had to get used to that snap again. We were trying to get that tuned up. Pasquale stepped up and did a great job.

“In fact, when we went in at halftime, those guys were working on the snap.”

Sto-Rox capitalized on Laurel’s first turnover — a fumbled exchanged — when Brendan Blair raced 16 yards for a score with 6:39 left in the first quarter. Lenny Williams added the two-point conversion run for an 8-0 lead.

The Spartans marched 59 yards in nine plays after the score, but turned the ball over again, this time when a pitch from quarterback Josh Dando to Matty Conway was mishandled and the Vikings recovered. Laurel fumbled two other times on the drive, only to recover each time. But on second-and-goal at the Sto-Rox 4, the Vikings made sure they pounced on the third loose ball.

“We knew what they were going to run (defensively) and it was exactly what it was,” Dando said. “I feel like we executed well, it was just too many missed opportunities. A fumbled snap, that killed us.

“They run a crazy defense.”

The Spartans eventually settled down and got on the board when Dando found Spencer Pullium for a 16-yard scoring strike with 1:13 left in the opening quarter. Noah Wertz tacked on the extra point for an 8-7 deficit.

Laurel took a 14-8 advantage with 8:16 left in the second quarter when Dando hooked up with Dalton Rosta on a 68-yard scoring strike. Kyle Forbes delivered a key block to spring Rosta for the touchdown.

The Spartans managed just 69 rushing yards, 56 of which came in the second half.

Dando finished 10 of 17 through the air for 194 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

“They were stuffing everything in the box and they weren’t really respecting the pass and it showed,” Dando said. “I’m a little surprised at the success they had against our run game.

“They just had too many guys to block. They weren’t overpowering us, they just had too many guys at the point of attack.”

The Vikings regrouped and forged a 22-14 halftime lead on a pair of Blair scoring runs. The second came on a hook-and-lateral with 1:09 to go in the half. Williams connected with Amair Newning who flipped to a streaking Blair for the score.

Laurel had a shot to get in the end zone late in the third quarter. The Spartans had third-and-goal at the Sto-Rox 2, but Dando was sacked. Cuba elected to settle for a 20-yard field goal, which Wertz drilled, to trim the margin to 22-17 with 2:58 to play in the period.

“I felt at the time we were playing good enough defense to kick the field goal and get another opportunity to press them,” Cuba said. “Unfortunately, we made too many dumb mistakes. I still wouldn’t change my decision.

“I have a good field goal kicker. I have something a lot of people don’t have is a kid that can actually make a field goal. I didn’t even think twice about that decision.”

Williams, who is being recruited by Temple, Rutgers, Akron and Bowling Green, raced 47 yards for a touchdown with 6:31 left in the game and a 28-17 lead. He finished with 116 yards rushing on 21 carries, while throwing for 111 yards on 11-of-17 passing with two interceptions.

Last week, Williams broke the all-time WPIAL career passing record. He now has 7,480 career passing yards, which ranks ninth in the state all-time.

“He’s a great athlete,” Cuba said of Williams. “For the most part, we did a pretty good job against him.”

Laurel returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday at conference rival Shenango.

“I haven’t had that problem,” Cuba said of his team being ready for the next test. “They come out and practice and they’re ready to go. That’s why I think that’s where we are.”

(Email: rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com)

STO-ROX LAUREL

14 First downs 15

245 Yards Rushing 128

43 Yards Lost 59

202 Net Rushing 69

17 Passes Attempted 17

11 Passes Completed 10

2 Passes Intercepted 2

111 Yards Passing 194

313 Total Yards 263

2-1 Fumbles-Lost 8-3

4-31 Punts-Average 4-32.2

10-85 Penalties-Yards 4-50

STO-ROX 8 14 0 6 — 28

LAUREL 7 7 3 0 — 17

Scoring plays

STO-ROX — Brendan Blair, 16-yard run (Lenny Williams run).

LAUREL — Spencer Pullium, 16-yard pass from Josh Dando (Noah Wertz kick).

LAUREL — Dalton Rosta, 68-yard pass from Dando (Wertz kick).

STO-ROX — Blair, 1-yard run (Willimas run).

STO-ROX — Blair, 26-yard run (pass failed).

LAUREL — Wertz, 20-yard field goal.

STO-ROX — Williams, 47-yard run (run failed).
GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Laurel 7 7 3 0 0 17
Sto-Rox 8 14 0 6 0 28
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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