October 1, 2010 - Herlinger Field - Johnstown, PA
In a penalty filled game, Bishop McCort scored all of its points in the first half and held on to defeat Richland by a score of 16-14. The Crushers were flagged eight times for 66 yards while the Rams committed 11 penalties covering 80 yards. Richland also committed three turnovers, one of which led to McCort's second touchdown. McCort came up with two big defensive stands in the fourth quarter which thwarted comeback attempts by the Rams.
"What a big game for us defensively," said head coach Ken Salem. "We had a lot of guys play with a lot of heart. We were able to step up and take on those big backs with our linebackers were giving up over a hundred pounds. We did a really good job of trying to stay low, tackle ankles, and working hard. This was a game where we still had a few more mistakes than we'd like, but I thought we showed tremendous character. We showed a lot of belief and faith in each other. We rotated a lot of guys and I was really pleased with our effort and couldn't be more proud. This is going to be one of those games on which people will look back and say that game propelled McCort back into the playoffs."
On its second possession, the Crushers took advantage of a nine yard punt to start a drive on the Rams' 37. It took seven plays to cover the distance with Jesse Cooper hitting Christian Leech in the back of the endzone for a six yard TD. The key play in the drive was a 19 yard pass reception by Zach Varga followed by a face mask penalty. The extra point kick failed giving McCort a 6-0 lead.
Richland bounced back quickly on its next possession with John Rizzo scoring early in the second period on a 17 yard run. The PAT gave the Rams a 7-6 advantage. McCort started its next drive at its 30, but had to punt after three plays. Jordan Spangler's kick was fumbled and recovered by Leech at Richland's 24. The Crushers were only able to advance the ball six yards and after a five yard penalty, Spangler's 41 yard field goal try was wide left.
After a Richland punt, McCort began another drive at the Rams' 47, but couldn't move the ball and were also forced to punt. This kick was fumbled again with John Dubovi pouncing on the football at Richland's 22. The Crushers needed just four plays with Varga plunging in from the one. Spangler's kick gave the lead back to McCort at 13-7.
With 2:43 left in the half Bishop McCort got the ball back after another Richland punt. The Crushers moved down the field with the help of a 30 yard pass from Cooper to Spangler and an 18 yard run by Anthony LaRue which put the ball at the Rams' nine with just four seconds left. After timeouts by each team, Spangler kicked a 26 yard field goal as time expired for a 16-7 lead heading into the intermission.
Richland scored the only points of the second half on a 62 yard drive using 9 plays. Quarterback Jordan Cinko took the ball into the endzone from the seven and Greg Sichak's PAT made the score 16-14 with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter. The Rams threatened twice in the final period, but the Crushers defense came up big. On fourth and 4 at McCort's 40, Spangler tackled Cinko for just a one yard gain with 3:38 on the clock. Richland had one more try, getting the ball back after a McCort punt with 2:37 left. Two big gains brought the ball into Crusher territory, but the defense held once again.
Salem was extremely excited after the game. "This is an outstanding win. I am absolutely delighted with our team's effort tonight. We came up here and had to deal with all kinds of adversity this week with injuries and different things. Instead of making excuses, we found reasons and ways to win. I'm just pleased with the steps we took tonight. I couldn't be more proud of this group. I think this is a character game which will prepare us for the tough games down the road."
"Tonight was all about our great effort on both sides of the ball, kids working hard and believing in each other and winning as a team. That's what we are known for, playing gritty, tough football and figuring out a way to win with the kids we put out on the field. We made enough plays to win this game."
"Richland has some size and some good football players and we knew they were going to make some plays. It was critical for us to be able to have momentum in the second half when those big bodies could potentially wear on you. As the game went on we got stronger. For us to continue to improve, we did a better job tonight of winning on defense and offensively we are getting more consistent. Once we got the lead, I was very pleased with how strong we were able to run inside the tackles. Zach Varga, Joe Hrbal, Anthony LaRue ran really hard tonight. We wanted to put this game in the second half on our offensive line. We ate a lot of clock and kept the ball out of their hands which was important against a team that likes to grind it out the way Richland does.
Nate James played his first game of the season after recovering from an injury and received praise from his coach. "Nate adds a spark to our defense. He comes in with a lot of energy and he is a guy that helped us increase our level on the defensive side of the ball."
Salem also had high marks for Zach Rugg. "He played his best game tonight. In the second half we probably ran on his side on every play."
GAME NOTES: Varga was McCort's leading rusher with 91 yards on 23 carries. Leech also intercepted a pass during a fake punt attempt. Richland was held to just one for ten passing for 16 yards.