Apollo-Ridge freshmen lead ‘monumental win’ over Burrell
Apollo-Ridge faced a sizeable degree of adversity coming into its Allegheny Conference 3A game against rival Burrell on Friday at Owens Field.
The Vikings lost last week to Shady Side Academy, and they knew standout 6-foot-5 senior quarterback Kyle Fitzroy would not be able to play because of injury.
Then Apollo-Ridge found itself in a two-touchdown hole to the visiting Bucs at halftime.
But the tables turned in the Vikings’ favor in the second half, led by the running of freshman tailback Logan Harmon.
Harmon finished with 159 yards and four touchdowns, 102 of those yards and all three Apollo-Ridge scores coming in the final 24 minutes as the Vikings won 28-19.
“That was a big win for us,” Harmon said. “That put us right back in the conference race.”
Apollo-Ridge improved to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Burrell lost for the fourth straight game and fell to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
Vikings coach John Skiba praised his team, including his freshman. One of them, Jake Fello, started at quarterback in place of Fitzroy and finished with 48 yards passing.
Freshman Klay Fitzroy caught four passes for 43 yards.
“That win was monumental with these young kids,” Skiba said. “They learned how to battle back from a deficit and win a tight game. We have a lot of kids, both young and older, gaining a lot of confidence.”
Harmon, who battled back spasms in the wake of last week’s loss to Shady Side, didn’t get his first carry until four minutes remained in the first half. His touchdown runs of 4 and 40 yards in the third quarter, coupled with a re-energized Apollo-Ridge defense, gave the Vikings the lead for good.
“I couldn’t have done it without the offensive line blocking the way it did,” Harmon said.
Harmon’s fourth touchdown, coming with 7:16 left in the fourth quarter, gave Apollo-Ridge welcomed breathing room.
“Logan didn’t practice much offense this week,” Skiba said. “We tried some different things early on to keep Logan fresh on defense. It came to the point where he had to go on offense. He gave us a spark. He got us going.”
Burrell, after racking up more than 200 yards of offense in the first half, was limited to 48 yards over the final two quarters. A blocked punt set up Apollo-Ridge’s first score of the second half, and a punt and an interception stopped two other Bucs drives.
Burrell also turned the ball over on downs three times in the second half.
“They wanted it more than we did,” Bucs coach Dave Bellinotti said.
“They are a well-coached team, and they took it to us in the second half and swung the momentum of the game. We have to try to find a way to finish these games. We had some adversity, and we didn’t handle it well.”
Burrell junior tailback Logan Bitar started the game fast and had 151 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown at halftime. However, he found the running a little tougher in the second half.
Bitar finished with 23 carries for 210 yards.
After forcing Apollo-Ridge to punt on its first possession, Burrell wasted no time in putting points on the board.
Bitar carried the ball three times on the scoring drive for 68 yards, with the final two putting him into the end zone. The point-after kick by Marena Glaister gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead.
Senior quarterback Seth Tatrn and junior running back Luke Kastelic added touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards for Burrell. Kastelic’s TD came with 24 seconds left until halftime and gave the Bucs a 19-7 advantage.
The Vikings stuffed a Burrell fake-punt attempt to set up its first-half score. A Fello-to-Klay Fitzroy pass completion and two Harmon runs — the final one for 8 yards — got Apollo-Ridge in the scoring column.
Apollo-Ridge hopes to keep the momentum going next week as it hosts Seton LaSalle. Burrell returns home next week to face Freeport.