New Castle topples West Allegheny
New Castle (35) vs. West Allegheny (17)
Written: Sep 27, 2008
By JOE SAGER
IMPERIAL — Skill, speed, size and strength.
All four are key elements of a successful football team.
But, don’t count out the impact confidence can have on a squad.
The New Castle High earned some of that with last week’s upset over Hopewell. Last night, the Red Hurricane were brimming with it following a 35-17 upset win at West Allegheny in WPIAL Class AAA Parkway Conference action.
“It builds us up high. We’re still going to be underdogs from here on out and that’s fine with me and my teammates,” New Castle quarterback Michael Bongivengo said. “We want to be the underdogs and keep our confidence level where it is and just play the game of football like we know how. We had to come out and prove what we could do and prove we are a competitive team and we can play the game of football with anybody.”
It was New Castle’s second-straight win over a ranked and previously unbeaten opponent. That may seem shocking to many since the ’Canes started the year 0-3. However, that record is deceiving since those three opponents — Butler, Indiana and Blackhawk — own a combined 12-3 mark so far this season.
“They believe in themselves right now. They started to doubt themselves earlier in those first couple games,” said New Castle coach and Michael’s father, Frank Bongivengo Jr. “But, right now, they believe they are a good football team and they believe they can beat anybody they play. Let’s face it, that’s a big part of the battle — kids believing they can do it. They showed that (last) night. We dominated.”
New Castle certainly did and the guests asserted themselves early by scoring on their first drive of the contest. Keith Keene ran in from 6 yards out and, following a West Allegheny penalty, Jared Fleo added the conversion run for an 8-0 lead.
The ’Canes (2-1 Parkway, 2-3 overall) received another spark as Fleo recovered an Indians fumble on the ensuing possession. Six plays later, Jordan Lyles reached the end zone for another NC touchdown. Jajuan Jay added the PAT kick for a surprising 15-0 edge.
New Castle appeared poised to take that lead into halftime, but a fumbled punt gave West Allegheny (2-1, 4-1) the ball on the ’Canes’ 16 with 1:20 left in the second quarter. The Indians reached the end zone on Jared Buck’s 7-yard pass to Ben Simmen.
The hosts carried the momentum into the third quarter. They took the opening kick and drove 64 yards on 15 plays in 8:06. However, New Castle came up with a huge defensive stand on its own 5 and the Indians had to settle for Aaron Fleck’s 22-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 15-10.
“That’s huge. When your defense is battling and trying to make plays and you are inside the 10, to hold them to a field goal was huge,” the coach said.
On the ’Canes’ first play of the third quarter, Keene ran to the right, eluded two tackles and blew past the Indians for a 74-yard TD run and a 22-10 advantage.
“Holding them to that field goal was maybe a momentum shifter from the dropped put in the second quarter,” Michael Bongivengo said. “We didn’t have any momentum. When we got that stop and held them to a field goal, that was big because we knew our offense could get the ball. Keith made a great play. Our line just had a tremendous game opening all sorts of holes for us.”
West Allegheny crept back into the game with a touchdown late in the third quarter, but the ’Canes put the contest out of reach in the fourth. Keene scored on a 7-yard run on an option play. Jay intercepted a Buck pass to set up Bongivengo’s 33-yard TD scamper to cap the scoring. John Fields intercepted a Buck pass on the Indians’ next drive to end the game.
“I think, for the most part, we did what we wanted to do against a quality football team with a great coaching staff,” the elder Bongivengo said. “The defense is going to be the key to our success. We feel we can move the ball against anybody, but when the defense makes stops and plays and gives us the ball back, we can put some points on the board and seal games away. The defense is going to be key for us all year, no doubt.”
Michael Bongivengo led the way for New Castle as he ran for 179 yards on 14 carries. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 69 yards as well. Keene finished the contest with 123 yards on 12 carries.
NEW CASTLE W. ALLEGHENY
17 First downs 19
341 Yards Rushing 178
14 Yards Lost 13
323 Net Rushing 165
11 Passes Attempted 19
7 Passes Completed 44
0 Passes Intercepted 2
69 Yards Passing 157
392 Total Yards 322
3-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-1
1-31 Punts-Average 2-33.5
5-55 Penalties-Yards 5-21
NEW CASTLE 8 7 7 13 — 35
WEST ALLEGHENY. 0 7 10 0—17
NEW CASTLE — Keith Keene, 6-yard run (Justin Fleo run).
NEW CASTLE — Jordan Lyles, 3-yard run (Jajuan Jay kick).
WEST ALLEGHENY — Ben Simmen, 7-yard pass from Jared Buck (Aaron Flack kick).
WEST ALLEGHENY — Flack, 22-yard field goal.
NEW CASTLE — Keene, 74-yard run (Jay kick).
WEST ALLEGHENY — Ricky Moore, 9-yard run (Fleck kick).
NEW CASTLE — Keene, 7-yard run (kick blocked).
NEW CASTLE — Michael Bongivengo, 33-yard run (Jay kick).