Newton survives struggles, leads P-R over Hampton
Pine-Richland junior tailback Tim Newman had a key fumble and struggled most of the second half in place of injured starter Greg Hough on Friday night at Hampton’s Fridley Field.
When the Rams were clinging to a two-point lead in the final moments, Newman came through with a 60-yard touchdown to put Hampton away in a 34-26 Pine-Richland victory in the Greater Allegheny Conference opener for both teams.
“We had some big boys go down tonight, but other guys stepped up,” Pine-Richland coach Clair Altemus told his team.
The victory could be costly for No. 2 Pine-Richland (5-0, 1-0). Hough was taken to the hospital with what originally looked like a hyper-extended left elbow.
“He went in at the half and talked to his boys,” Altemus said. “He didn’t tell them to win one for him. He told them to play like champions and the kids responded to that.”
No. 9 Hampton (3-2, 0-1) rallied from being down 21-0 at the half to make a game of it.
“The first half we had too many mental mistakes,” Hampton coach Greg Mihalik said. “We didn’t change anything. We went with our game plan. I’m proud of my guys’ effort.”
“I just don’t like the fact that we had all that intensity the first half and then we lost it in the second half,” Altemus said.
Pine-Richland got a big game from sophomore quarterback Jake Long, who completed 16 of 20 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Seven of those passes went to star wide receiver Neil Walker for 61 yards.
“The kid just put the ball on the money,” Altemus said. “He understands the game. For a sophomore, he’s probably the most poised individual I’ve coached in 30 years.”
Hampton’s quarterback, senior Chris Platt, threw for 158 yards and one touchdown and ran for 65 yards and two more scores.
“He’s an athlete that people have to be aware of,” Mihalik said. “He’s done a great job for us.” Pine-Richland took the early lead on the arm of Long. The sophomore completed an 11-yard pass to Billy Massaro to convert a third down, then found running back Greg Hough in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
Hough added another score on the following possession. The Rams started at the Hampton 48 after a short punt, converted another third down on a pass to Walker, then rode Hough the rest of the way.
The senior carried on the last four plays for 37 yards, including a two-yard touchdown off left tackle. Patrick Humes missed the extra-point attempt wide left, leaving the Rams ahead 13-0.
Long completed his first five passes of the game for 53 yards, with the first incompletion a ball that skipped off Massaro’s hands. The Rams took advantage of another short punt by Platt, this one a 36-yarder that Walker returned 12 yards to the 36, to push their advantage to 21-0.
Walker got Pine-Richland close by out-jumping a defender for a 17-yard completion, then Long found tight end Tony Taormina wide open on a bootleg left for a nine-yard touchdown on third and goal.
That completed a half dominated by Pine-Richland, which piled up 177 yards of total offense and held Hampton to only 31 yards rushing, 54 total yards and two first downs. Hough ran for 82 yards and one touchdown in the half, giving him 609 yards and one score on the season.
Hampton attacked the middle of the field with Hough out, first with the run, then on a pass, as Platt found Jeff Passerrello wide open down the field for a 61-yard touchdown.
“He’s a great player,” Altemus said. “When he goes down, that is the thing to do, attack the hole.”
Hampton went 69 yards for another score on its next possession, this time with Platt connecting with Corey Veltum on passes of 12 and 23 yards to set up his one-yard sneak for a touchdown. Platt could not handle the snap on the extra point and was stopped short as he tried to run it in, leaving the Talbots down eight points at 21-13.
Long responded for Pine-Richland, leading the Rams on a 10-play, 66-yard touchdown drive, going back to the same bootleg left and pass to tight end Taormina, this time for an 11-yard score.
The Talbots’ seemed to be out of it when Passarrello fumbled to end the next possession with only 7:40 remaining in the game, but Taormina came up inches short on a fourth-down pass from Long.
Hampton took advantage by driving 71 yards for a touchdown, scoring on Platt’s seven-yard run after the Rams took 30 yards in penalties, but Walker kept it a two-score game at 28-19 by blocking the extra point kick with 4:14 remaining.
Hampton got new life when Newman fumbled and Adam Zaffuto recovered for the Talbots. Veltum stole a jump ball from Platt away from a defender for a 19-yard touchdown to cut Pine-Richland’s lead to two at 28-26.