Plum passes pass first test, North Hills up next
Plum varsity football head coach Matt Morgan said before the season that a number of different offensive weapons would be used in games to keep opposing defenses off balance.
The Mustangs showed that variety Friday in their season-opening 38-17 victory over Quad-East foe Hempfield.
Plum opened some eyes when it scored a big 45-19 victory at Hempfield last year, but many expected the Mustangs to come out and control the game against the Spartans.
For most of the game, it did.
Morgan said he liked a lot of what he saw on both sides of the ball against Hempfield, but, he added, there are a few things that need to be cleaned up before Friday’s nonconference clash at North Hills.
“Using a lot of weapons is kind of how we’re going to attack the season,” Morgan said.
“A lot of guys can do a lot. We want to establish the running game, and we have talented guys back there. Those guys made some plays Friday.”
Morgan said his players on both sides of the ball were able to work through the heat, humidity and first-game jitters.
“We spread the ball out and got everyone involved,” Morgan said. “Hempfield’s a pretty young team, and they will get better.”
Morgan said he is excited to see how his players will match up against a North Hills squad that opened its season Friday with a 27-13 Quad North win over Fox Chapel.
“North Hills is always disciplined and well coached,” Morgan said. “It makes a team like that tough. We can’t make mistakes against them this week. Last year, we made some mistakes, and they were key factors in a close game. That was the difference. North Hills didn’t make those mistakes.”
North Hills won last year’s meeting, 17-14, at Plum.
The Mustangs fell behind 17-0 at halftime. A rally in the fourth quarter that saw Plum score two touchdowns fell short.
Nick Santucci, who carried the ball 21 times for 65 yards in last year’s game, returns for the Indians.
Against Fox Chapel last Friday, Santucci caught six passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Jake Elsayed completed 8 of 12 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
In Friday’s game with Hempfield, the Spartans drew first blood, converting a muffed punt by Plum into three points early in the first quarter.
But the Mustangs responded on the first play of the next drive as senior quarterback Matt Goodlin found junior tailback Kevin Brown on a 62-yard screen-pass completion for a touchdown.
Brown added a 13-yard TD run in the first quarter, and senior Jaleel Bey and sophomore quarterback Corey Thomas contributed scoring runs of 31 and 11 yards in the first half.
Senior Jake Chapla nailed a 39-yard field goal, and Thomas hooked up with senior wideout Ashton Teeter on a 70-yard scoring strike in the third quarter as Plum extended its lead to 38-10.
Goodlin and Thomas shared duties under center, and the duo combined for more than 200 yards passing. Goodlin had 141, while Thomas added 97.
“The game plan was to give both a shot,” Morgan said. “We expect to use both guys. They give two different looks for a defense. It’s a lot to prepare for.”
Bey finished with nine carries for 82 yards, while junior Nick Coxon added seven rushes for 50 yards.
Brown led the Mustangs with three catches for 122 yards, and Teeter added three receptions for 106 yards.
“We had the muffed punt and a punt return for a touchdown called back,” Morgan said. “Hempfield was able to move the ball on us on a couple of drives. We have to be sound the whole game. If we’re not this week, North Hills will make us pay.”
Morgan said senior Nick Carlisano, who has been recovering from a knee injury since the preseason, is expected back this week.
“Nick is key for us on both sides of the ball,” Morgan said.
Michael Love is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.