Colonials keep Fox Chapel winless
O’HARA: Fox Chapel played its best football game of the season Friday night against Albert Gallatin.
It wasn’t enough to earn the Foxes their first victory.
In a game in which the lead changed hands seven times, the Colonials came out on top when Greg Moore tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Strimel with 8:09 left to play, lifting Albert Gallatin to a 28-24 victory at the James M. Burk Athletic Facility.
The Foxes came into the game winless, but with a victory against Albert Gallatin they could have thrust themselves into the playoff race in the Quad West Conference.
Instead, the Colonials (2-1, 2-3) stamped themselves as playoff contenders with their second straight conference victory.
“That puts us at 2-1 in the conference, and with only seven teams in the conference, it really helps us,” Albert Gallatin coach Chuck Colborn said.
With the victory, the Colonials already have matched their win total for all of last season. Albert Gallatin went winless over the 1999 and 2000 seasons and won only two games each of the past two years.
“I can’t tell you how long it’s been since this program won two games in a row,” Colborn said.
Albert Gallatin started badly Friday night, giving the ball away on the opening kickoff. Colonials kick returner Jaques Newberry let the kick roll along the left sideline, and Fox Chapel’s Scott Fortune fell on it at the Albert Gallatin 10-yard line.
The Foxes lost a touchdown when Jeremy John’s pass to Chris Vogel in the right corner of the end zone was nullified by a penalty.
Fox Chapel had to settle for Ted Sheedy’s 30-yard field goal.
“To hold them to a field goal was great defense,” Colborn said. “At times we played defense really well tonight.”
The Colonials came back quickly, using some trickery to score on their fourth offensive play when Vaughn Jones hit Strimel for a 56-yard touchdown on a halfback pass.
It was the first of five lead changes in the first half.
Ed Dannenmueller’s 50-yard kickoff return led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Cyrus Serrao that put the Foxes back in front. Albert Gallatin answered with a 96-yard drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by Jones to regain the lead at 14-10.
Fox Chapel’s defense pinned the Colonials inside their own 5-yard line, and Dannenmueller’s 14-yard punt return set the stage for a 22-yard touchdown run by Serrao and a 17-14 Fox Chapel lead.
The Foxes had a chance to add to their lead, but they fumbled away an Albert Gallatin punt. The Colonials took advantage and drove 48 yards to take a 21-17 lead on Scott Piper’s 2-yard plunge with 32 seconds left in the first half.
“We played a physical game, and we played with a lot of enthusiasm,” Fox Chapel coach Todd Massack said. “But we made a lot of mental and physical mistakes. One play we looked great, and the next play we didn’t look so good.”
The Foxes went back in front for the last time early in the fourth quarter. Scott Black recovered an Albert Gallatin fumble on a punt return, and John’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Vogel made it 24-21.
But Albert Gallatin responded with a 58-yard kickoff return, and on third-and-14 Moore hit Strimel in stride down the right sideline for the winning score.
The Foxes’ final drive ended when John’s fourth down pass wass tipped and intercepted by Newberry.
Penalties and turnovers hurt the Foxes.
“We’re a young team, and it’s showing. We have three sophomores on the offensive line and four sophomores who start on defense,” said Massack, whose team visits Ringgold next week. “We’ll find out what type of character we have next week. We have to stay focused and keep moving in the right direction.”