Lancers comeback effort stymies Scotties
Neshannock (20) vs. Union (14)
Written: Oct 09, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
There are exceptions to just about every rule.
High school football coaches tell anyone who’ll listen that the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins the game. Last night, Neshannock fumbled the ball away four times, while Union had just two turnovers.
Guess what? Neshannock won, 20-14, spoiling Union’s homecoming celebration.
The Big Seven Conference victory at Union snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lancers, who are 1-3 in the conference and 3-3 overall. For Union (1-3, 2-4) it was a disappointing defeat.
“This was one of the tougher losses I’ve had,” Union coach Stacy Robinson said.
That’s because the Scotties held the lead until there were 61 seconds left to play and because of the way Neshannock scored the winning touchdown — a 3-yard run over the right side by Leo Pasquarello. Quarterback Michael Sanfilippo then tossed a pass to Nick Graziani for the two-point conversion.
Midway through the final quarter it looked as if Union had stopped Neshannock. But the Scotties were penalized for illegal substitution as the Lancers lineup up to punt. The five-yard penalty gave Neshannock a first down at the Union 43.
“We were penalized for having too many men on the field, but Neshannock hadn’t snapped the ball yet,” Robinson said. “It was disturbing and bizarre.”
Neshannock was forced to punt three plays later with the ball going into the end zone. But on its first play from the 20, Union fumbled and Erik Welker recovered for Neshannock on the Scotties’ 19. Three plays later, and after a holding penalty, Sanfilippo found Alex Welker open on the left side and hit him with a 24-yard pass that carried to the Union 3. Pasquarello scored on the next play.
“We got all the flow going one way and threw the other because they are real aggressive,” Neshannock coach Pat Cuba said of the pass and Union’s defense. “It was a great throw, and the kid made a great catch.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Robinson said when asked about the fumble. “It (the football) never got to the running back.”
It was the only fumble Union lost and was just one of two turnovers for the Scotties. The other was an interception when quarterback Andre Jones was trying to hit a receiver at the goal line with 40 seconds remaining.
Jones finished with 70 yards rushing on 20 carries and completed 4 of 8 passes for another 39 yards. Kienan Owens rushed for 52 yards on 12 carries and scored on a 1-yard run with 9:29 left to play to pull the Lancers to within 14-12.
Union scored twice in the first half, taking advantage of Neshannock mistakes both times. The Scotties got a touchdown after Drew Robinson picked up a botched fake punt attempt and returned it to the Lancers 2. Union also recovered a fumble on the Neshannock 41 in the second quarter and scored four plays later.
“It was my fault on that fake punt,” Cuba said. “Mark Bleggi (Neshannock’s punter) just misunderstood. I said I wanted him to kick the ball this way and he thought I said ‘Run it that way.’ It was totally my mistake.”
While neither team will probably make the WPIAL playoffs, the victory was a big one for the young Lancers, who still have South Side Beaver, Rochester and Shenango to play.
“It was a good win for us because it’s a rivalry game, but it also keeps us going in the right direction … keeps the kids believing maybe we can do something,” Cuba said. “We’ve played teams tough, like Cornell, and they’ve been putting a whipping on everybody.”
12 First downs 8
173 Yards Rushing 135
23 Yards Lost 19
150 Net Rushing 116
10 Passes Attempted 8
5 Passes Completed 4
0 Passes Intercepted 1
87 Yards Passing 39
237 Total Yards 155
5-4 Fumbles-Lost 3-1
1-41 Punts-Average 4-36
5-24 Penalties-Yards 8-62
NESHANNOCK 0 6 0 14 — 20
UNION 6 8 0 0 — 14
UNION — Drew Robinson, 1-yard run (kick failed).
NESHANONCK — Nick Graziani, 28-yard pass from Michael Sanfilippo (kick failed).
UNION — Wayne Seamans, 4-yard pass from Andre Jones (Jones run).
NESHANNOCK — Kienan Owens, 1-yard run (pass failed).
NESHANNOCK — Leo Pasquarello, 3-yard run (Graziani, pass from Sanfilippo).