New Castle gets first win
New Castle (25) vs. Hopewell (7)
Written: Sep 20, 2008
By JOHN D’ABRUZZO
Michael Bongivengo was keeping to himself.
Kneeling all alone on the sideline, away from the rest of the New Castle High football team, the senior quarterback knew things had to change as the Red Hurricane went to the locker room at the half in a scoreless battle with Hopewell.
“I was thinking that we have to start making plays,” Bongivengo said. “We have to come together as a family and as a team to make the plays.
“Eventually, we started clicking.”
And click the ’Canes did in the second half, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter alone to knock off the Vikings, 25-7, in a WPIAL Class AAA Parkway Conference matchup last night at Taggart Stadium.
Hopewell entered the week ranked sixth in the PIAA Class AAA poll by the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
“We talked a lot about choices, and tonight I thought they took it upon themselves to make the choices and play some good team football,” said New Castle coach Frank Bongivengo Jr., who is the father of the quarterback. “I’ve been waiting, the kids have been waiting and the fans have been waiting for the past three weeks for us to put it all together.
“Tonight, our kids made the choice to put it together and they were going to do everything they had to do to win. Beating a No. 6-ranked team in the state is not an easy chore.”
Hopewell (1-1 conference, 3-1 overall) opened the third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run by Drew Howard. The senior running back led the Vikings in rushing with 55 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
New Castle (1-1, 1-3) answered back 55 seconds later when the younger Bongivengo hit a wide-open Brandon Burley on a 60-yard pass. Bongivengo went to the air again when he connected with Ta’shan Jones on a 9-yard pass to open the fourth quarter and give the ’Canes a 12-7 lead.
“They fought and battled,” Bongivengo said. “This is the way you play through some adversity. We had a lot of adversity in the first half and they just kept battling. As the game went on and through the third quarter, you could see the momentum start to change and our kids start to control the game.”
Junior linebacker John Fields came up with a key fumble recovery with 11:11 to go in the game. That led to a Bongivengo 1-yard touchdown run.
“They’re a good football team,” Vikings coach Dave Vestal said. “We made some mistakes, and we knew coming in if we made mistakes and didn’t execute we were going to have a hard time winning the game.”
Bongivengo completed 7 of 14 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He also lead New Castle in rushing with 82 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
“Michael’s been consistent,” coach Bongivengo said. “I can’t complain about they way the quarterback’s been playing. He’s made some really good plays for us. Tonight, he made some really heady plays both with his feet and with his arm.
“I know he’s my son and all, but he’s been a standup quarterback for us. He’s a player.”
Hopewell quarterback Tyler George completed 7 of 15 attempts for 54 yards. He also threw two interceptions.
“The defense tonight did a great job holding us in there while we were strung down with some penalties and some bad plays,” coach Bongivengo said. “They held us in the ballgame and then all of the sudden our offense just started clicking.
“We do that on both sides of the ball, we’re going to be a team who has a good opportunity to win the game.”
After the Bongivengo touchdown run, Burley came up with an interception on the first play of the Hopewell series. That led to Keith Keene scoring New Castle’s final touchdown — a 9-yard run — with five minutes remaining. Keene rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries.
“(Hopewell) is sound,” coach Bongivengo said. “They don’t make mistakes and they really didn’t make too many tonight.
“This is a steppingstone. These kids now are starting to believe in themselves a little bit. They feel confident and comfortable, and that’s 80 percent of the battle anymore.”
HOPEWELL NEW CASTLE
11 First downs 16
161 Yards Rushing 239
8 Yards Lost 31
153 Net Rushing 208
15 Passes Attempted 14
7 Passes Completed 7
2 Passes Intercepted 0
54 Yards Passing 125
207 Total Yards 333
1-1 Fumbles-Lost 4-1
5-34.6 Punts-Average 4-38.5
4-40 Penalties-Yards 8-65
HOPEWELL 0 0 7 0 — 7
NEW CASTLE 0 0 6 19 — 25
HOPEWELL — Drew Howard, 15-yard run (Adam Gibboney kick).
NEW CASTLE — Brandon Burley, 60-yard pass from Michael Bongivengo (kick blocked).
NEW CASTLE — Ta’shan Jones, 9-yard pass from Bongivengo (pass failed).
NEW CASTLE — Bongivengo, 1-yard run (pass failed).
NEW CASTLE — Keith Keene, 9-yard run (Jajuan Jay kick).