Blairsville rolls into District 6 semifinals
THREE SPRINGS — Nick Stone and his Blairsville teammates remembered all too fondly how they squandered a 14-point third-quarter lead on a November night in last year’s District 6 Class A playoffs.
This time, Blairsville made sure it didn’t happen again.
Stone scored four touchdowns — two rushing and two receiving — and had 288 all-purpose yards as Blairsville defeated Southern Huntingdon, 35-19, on Saturday night.
“(With) Nick Stone and Zack Sabella you have two possible game breakers,” Blairsville coach Ab Dettorre said. “We have guys … that can all make plays.”
Blairsville will play No. 1 seed Bishop Carroll (10-0), a team which has beaten Blairsville in the District 6 semifinals three out of the past four years. That game will likely be Friday night at Penn Cambria High School.
“It’s a whole different game plan next week,” Dettorre said. “It’s a whole different style.”
Blairsville (8-1) torched Southern Huntingdon, the fourth-best defense in the district, for 451 yards of total offense.
“It’s the postseason now,” Dettorre said. “We won our conference, and we want that to continue (the momentum) and to get to that district final. We think we’re a capable team, and we think we belong there. But we still have to prove ourselves.”
Blairsville quarterback Adam Highberger, who was 13 of 18 for 233 yards and three touchdowns, struggled early, but his 3-yard pass to Sabella to put Blairsville up for good, 14-7, with 30 seconds left in the first half. The score was set up when defensive lineman Tom Gaston recovered a Johnny Neuder fumble at the Southern Huntingdon 43.
“They’re kids,” Dettorre said of his quarterback. “They get into a big game situation, and they know this is it – all or nothing.”
Highberger settled down, and so did his teammates after halftime, as Blairsville scored on its first three possessions of the second half. Blairsville’s defense also played inspired. After allowing 108 first-quarter yards, the Bobcats allowed only 80 in the second and third quarters.
“Our guys knew this would be a tough game, coming over 100 miles,” Dettorre said. “I’m just very proud of my kids. I thought the coaches coached very well, and I’m estatic the way we played defense.”
Southern Huntingdon took a 7-0 lead with 1:45 left in the first quarter after driving 77 yards in six plays, including to key runs of 44 and 17 by Neuder. The 17-yard gain set up a first-and-goal at the Blairsville 6. Two plays later, fullback Troy Hoover scored from 2 yards out.
Blairsville tied the score at seven with 6:32 left in the second quarter. Stone and Sabella keyed the 5-play, 64-yard drive, with Stone capping the drive with a 17-yard run.
Nueder rushed for 138 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. It was his eighth 100-yard game this season. But Blairville shut him down after he gained 80 yards in the first quarter alone.
“They did a good job keeping our running game in check,” Southern Huntingdon coach Ryan Garlock said. “I thought we did some good things against their defense, but they’re tough as hell, and we couldn’t get our run game going.”