Kittanning dominates Washington
KITTANNING — Kittanning head coach Sam Panchik was all smiles following last night’s game against Washington.
He had reason to be.
The Wildcats dominated the Little Prexies in all facets of the game and improved to 2-0 with a 41-8 victory.
“I’m very happy with where we’re at,” Panchik said. “We’re doing it with a total team effort.”
Kittanning piled up 262 rushing yards, held Washington to only 169 total yards, forced three turnovers and scored two special-teams touchdowns.
The Wildcats had a slim 13-0 lead at halftime, but scored three touchdowns in the first 4:33 of the second half to blow the game wide open.
Joe Acerni got things started when he took the second-half kickoff 84 yards to the house. Acerni, known for his punishing style of play as a linebacker, showed impressive speed racing past would-be tacklers down the sideline.
“The coaches always tell us the first five minutes of the second half is the most important part of the game,” said Acerni, who also rushed for 42 yards.
Two plays after Acerni’s score, Kittanning linebacker Ryan Shepard recovered a loose ball after a botched hand off at the Little Prexies’ 2-yard line.
Brad Bothell scored on the next play to give Kittanning a comfortable 27-0 lead.
But the Wildcats, and Bothell, weren’t finished.
Kittanning forced Washington to punt on its ensuing possession and Bothell returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. The electrifying run was Bothell’s third touchdown of the contest. He finished with 63 yards rushing and 72 punt-return yards.
“I like to run in the open field, “Bothell said. “I got good guys blocking for me. When they open a hole, I just hit it. I’ll do whatever it takes to get yards.”
Panchik is expecting Bothell to provide more of the same throughout the season.
“He’s just a great athlete,” Panchik said. “We’re counting on him to make plays, and I know he will make plays.”
Panchik was just as pleased with his return units.
“(Special teams) is something we’ve worked hard at and it came through for us today,” Panchik said.
The Wildcats defense did its part, too.
Washington managed just 43 yards in the first half, and received 47 percent of its offense on one play –Richie Barnes’ 80-yard touchdown run early in the fourth.
“I thought our defense looked pretty good,” Panchik said. “I can’t single out one group –defensive line, linebackers or defensive backs. They all played well.”
The game actually started out well for Washington, as Cedric Thomas returned the opening kickoff 55 yards to Kittanning’s 30-yard line.
But the Wildcats’ defense was up to the challenge and forced the Little Prexies to turn the ball over on downs after gaining no yards.
“That was a huge stop,” Acerni said. “We were strong on defense.” Shepard paced Kittanning’s defense with a forced fumble, fumble recovery and several huge hits. Jesse Johns also picked off a pass.
Kittanning opened the scoring on its second possession of the game. The Wildcats were the beneficiaries of great field position thanks mostly to sophomore Derek Taylor’s 60-yard punt that pinned Washington deep in its own territory.
Brad Bothell capped an eight-play drive with a 13-yard run off left tackle.
Quarterback Jeremy DeLuca, who did not attempt a single pass, scored on a 14-yard run late in the second quarter. Tight end Greg Panchik’s block sealed the corner and allowed DeLuca to sprint unmolested to the house on a designed keeper.
The Wildcats open conference play next week at Shady Side Academy.
“It feels great to start 2-0,” Acerni said. “We know what we’re capable of as a team. We just got to keep working hard.”