Hempfield squeaks past Greensburg Salem
Three fumble recoveries and a 59-yard touchdown pass by halfback Cragi Gordon were all Hempfield Area needed to squeeze out a 6-2 victory over rival Greensburg Salem last night.
“The difference tonight was turnovers,” Spartans Head Coach Bo Ruffner said. “They turned the ball over more times than we did, and that turned out to be the difference in the game.”
The Spartans only score came on a fake reverse pass from tailback Craig Gordon to wide receiver Jeremy Walker. The Spartans had planned on using the trick play all week, and Ruffner called it at the perfect time.
“It was in the game plan,” Ruffner said. “The kids executed. We put it in the game plan on Monday. It was called a toss eight fake reverse pass. Craig made a great play. He caught the ball, made a nice fake to our receiver coming around and made a great throw to Jeremy and he made a great play getting into the end zone.”
Heavy rain affected the Spartans ability to move the ball and their offense struggled, gaining only 109 yards, 59 of which were on Gordon’s touchdown pass. The wet conditions caused the Spartans to alter their game plan a little, coach Ruffner said.
“When you’re having that much rain coming down, you can’t do some of the things you want to do,” he said. “You have to definitely be a little bit more conservative, run the football and try to posses the ball.
Hempfield’s defense held Greensburg Salem’s offense to just 160 total yards, allowing the Golden Lions only one scoring opportunity before the fourth quarter, a 48-yard field goal attempt by Matt Boe with10:58 left in the first half, that bounced off of the crossbar and back into the end zone.
“The defense played outstanding. Coach McCanna had these guys ready to go,” Ruffner said. “They played 48 minutes and they won the game for us tonight.”
With 11:02 left in the game, the teams were sent to the locker rooms due to lighting. After about a 40 minute wait, play resumed with Greensburg-Salem facing 2 and 27 on there own on their own 29 yard line. After Golden Lion tailback Brandon Sticca lost two more yards on second down, Cory Bush got off a 69-yard quick kick on third down, pinning the Spartans on their own four-yard line.
The Spartans took a safety on fourth down instead of risking a blocked punt or bad snap after failing to get a first down.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything greater than that,” Greensburg Salem head coach George Kemerer said. “But we fumbled. We just can’t put it on the ground like that.”
Greensburg’s second fumble appeared to put the Spartans in the driver’s seat until Ruffner called a pass play on a 2 and 14. Quarterback Anthony Constantine’s pass was intercepted by Greensburg linebacker Patrick Hutchinson, who returned the ball to Hempfield’s 41-yard line.
Unable to capitalize off of the turnover, the Golden Lions defense gave forced Hempfield to punt with 1:11 remaining, giving the offense one last chance.
Quarterback Anthony Manley completed two quick passes for 33-yards, giving the Golden Lions a first and ten on Hempfield’s 26-yard line with 50 seconds left.
The drive stalled after that however, and Manley, who finished with 67 yards on 5 completions, fumbled the snap on fourth and six with 26 seconds left.
“We knew it would be a close ballgame, come down to a couple of plays, and unfortunately it didn’t bounce our way,” Kemerer said. “They hit the big play when they had to. They executed the big play and got it done.”