Plum gearing up for Quad East clash with undefeated Norwin
Plum and Norwin last played in 2001, and the Mustangs beat the Knights that season, 28-6.
The teams have faced each other five times, and Norwin holds a 3-2 advantage.
While it’s nice to look back in time and crunch numbers, Plum head coach Matt Morgan knows that a single letter is the most important thing this week.
That letter simply is W.
After two frustrating three-point home losses to nonsection foe North Hills and to Altoona in Quad East play last week, Morgan and his players are hoping that a renewal of pleasantries with the Knights on Friday will translate into an important victory.
“The kids are resilient. They fight,” Morgan said. “That is something that has changed. They fight to the end. It is tough to fall at home by three points two weeks in a row.”
Plum now is 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the Quad East after Friday’s 14-11 loss to Altoona.
The Mustangs, which reached the red zone five times in the first half, held a 3-0 lead at halftime on a 31-yard field goal from junior Jake Chapla, but two third-quarter touchdowns gave the visiting Mountain Lions the lead.
A 46-yard touchdown hookup between senior quarterback Wil Fuhrer and junior wideout Patrick Crossey with 3:33 left in the game and the subsequent two-point conversion run by senior Nathan Turchick brought Plum to within three points.
However, Altoona took the ball, converted two short third downs and ran out the clock.
“I don’t want to see anyone cry or be upset, but I like that emotion from our players,” Morgan said.
“That shows how much they care. We call care. We’re all frustrated and upset.”
While Plum suffered a close loss to Altoona, Norwin held on for a 14-7 nonleague victory over Seneca Valley. The Knights are a surprising 3-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Quad East.
Norwin has given up only seven points in three games, and the Knights are led by the play of junior quarterback Nick Amendola.
The signal caller, a starter since his freshman year, scored two rushing touchdowns last week, including the game winner with four seconds left in the game.
Amendola also was an efficient 6 of 9 passing for 69 yards.
Peyton and Logan Deri also had strong games for Norwin. Peyton rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries, while Logan had 94 receiving yards.
“We’re not in panic mode at all,” Morgan said. “We’re 1-1 in the conference and can get back on track Friday against Norwin.”
Morgan said execution was the key in the first half last Friday against Altoona.
Plum had a chance to extend its lead on the last play of the first half. On a second and goal at the 1, Fuhrer’s number was called, and he tried to sneak it into the end zone.
But Altoona’s defense was there to meet the challenge and stuffed Fuhrer.
“I had faith in our guys, but (Altoona) had a good scheme against it and blew it up,” Morgan said.
“That gave them some life, because we were winning the field-position battle, the defense was playing great, and the offensive was moving the ball. It was tough to see us not finish our drives.”
Altoona scored on its opening drive of the second half, as tailback Eli Mencer capped the drive with a 28-yard run.
Later in the quarter, Plum was driving and in Altoona territory, but a Fuhrer pass attempt fell into the arms of Mountain Lions cornerback Sean Steave who returned it 96 yards for a touchdown.
“That was a tough, but Wil played a good game,” Morgan said. “He’s going to help us get to where we need to go.”
Fuhrer finished 15 of 30 for 235 yards, two interceptions and the touchdown.
Crossey tallied five catches for 86 yards.
Aston Teeter, a 6-foot-3 junior in his first year of major varsity action, hauled in six passes for 86 yards, and he has nine catches for 183 yards the past two games.
“Aston is growing into a good receiver,” Morgan said. “He’s become a playmaker. He started to attract attention where they weren’t covering other receivers and were doubling up on him.”
Sophomore Nick Coxon led the Plum rushing attack with 67 yards on 18 carries. He has 299 yards on the ground over the first three games.
Chapla was good from 31 yards, and he was unlucky from 46 yards in the second quarter, as the ball bounced off the crossbar before landing in the end zone.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review sports reporter. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .