Red Raiders outlast Vikings
UNIONTOWN – After seeing their team edged out by Greensburg Salem in a 9-7 decision last week, Uniontown football fans looked forward to seeing the Red Raiders (3-1, 5-1) coast past struggling Keystone Conference opponent Mount Pleasant (0-4, 0-6). But the Vikings didn’t make it quite so easy, fighting back in the second half to put up some points before succumbing to Uniontown, 28-14.
“It was a tough game. We were up 20-0 at the half, but we told the kids at half-time, ‘You can’t let up,'” Uniontown coach John Fortugna said. “That’s the best 0-6 team I’ve seen on tape.”
Fortugna said the Vikings are a well-coached team with some talented players.
“They do a lot of good things out there,” he said. “They’ve got some athletes.”
Mount Pleasant coach Mark Lyons said he’s hoping to see those assets translate into points.
“We’re playing pretty good, the guys are scrappy, and all those adjectives, but it’s getting pretty old,” he said. “We’ve got to start seeing results.”
And although the Vikings displayed a strong defensive effort during much of the game, the team wasn’t able to take advantage offensively. Mount Pleasant kept the Red Raiders off the scoreboard in the first quarter, but the Vikings were forced to punt twice themselves.
Near the end of the opening period, Uniontown was able to start breaking through the Mount Pleasant defense for a drive that would lead to Bill McLee’s three-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
McLee finished the game with 111 yards on 19 carries.
Two and a half minutes later, the Red Raiders capitalized on a Vikings mistake to score again. Uniontown picked up Mount Pleasant’s fumble on the Vikings’ 47-yard line and mounted a short drive that culminated in Ryan Guthrie’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Eric Hughes. Guthrie ran in the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead.
The Red Raiders extended that lead with less than a minute left in the half, as they churned out 80 yards on the ground. Guthrie cashed in from a yard out for the points.
The Vikings began the third quarter with good field position after a nice kickoff return from Zach Caruso. Mount Pleasant set up on the Uniontown 39, and Mike Prinkey carried them most of the way to the endzone. Prinkey capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, and Anthony Menart’s kick through the wind and rain was good.
The Vikings were back in the game, 20-7, until McLee crossed the goal line in the fourth quarter for a three-yard score, his second of the game. James Mays, who hauled in four catches for 88 yards, caught Guthrie’s conversion pass, giving Uniontown a comfortable 28-7 lead.
That lead got a little less comfortable when Mount Pleasant quarterback Jeff Marker launched a 42-yard scoring pass to Prinkey. Menart added the extra point. The Vikings couldn’t catch up any further, though, and Uniontown got back on the winning track.
Fortugna credited his assistant coaches with a big part of the win, but he said the players also showed character.
“The kids bounced back from a loss. You’ve got to say a lot about the kids,” he said. “We had a tough loss last week, and they bounced back. It’s a sign of a good football team, and I’ve got to praise my kids for that.”
Lyons said the Vikings will keep looking for some self-confidence, as well as that first victory.
“We’ll be back in the morning, looking at film and trying to get better,” he said. “We’re going to work through this.”
Mount Pleasant will host Belle Vernon next Friday. Uniontown will take a break from conference action to play host to Blackhawk.