Alex Tecza, Mt. Lebanon teammates jump on Upper St. Clair to improve to 2-0

Friday, September 3, 2021 | 11:42 PM

So far, so good for the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils in 2021 as they took care of their second straight South Hills rival, defeating Upper St. Clair, 36-13, Friday night at Mt. Lebanon Stadium.

For the second straight game, it was a quick start for Mt. Lebanon, which scored 20 first-quarter points.

Eli Heidenreich, who scored a pair of touchdowns in the opener, got Mt. Lebanon on the board with a catch and run score of 48 yards from Joey Daniels. After Bennett Henderson kicked a 37-yard field goal for Upper St. Clair, senior Alex Tecza took over for the Blue Devils.

Tecza scored touchdowns on consecutive runs, scoring from 6 yards out and then after a Panthers punt, taking a handoff and galloping 80 yards for a score to give Mt. Lebanon a 20-3 lead.

“I cannot give enough credit to my line and my outside receivers,” Tecza said. “They blocked the whole night for me, and I couldn’t have asked for better help from them.”

Tecza thought the 80-yard touchdown run was a big moment in the contest. “It changed the game for sure. Explosive runs are the best runs to come by, and that was a great feeling with the crowd cheering all the way.”

Henderson added a 41-yard field goal and then Mateo Cepulio electrified the visiting Panthers fans on the second-half kickoff. The senior, who had a 65-yard kick return to set up the first field goal, sprinted almost untouched 97 yards to pull Upper St. Clair within a touchdown at 20-13.

But Tecza had the answer for the Blue Devils, capping the ensuing drive with an 11-yard run to make the score 26-13.

Daniels, the senior quarterback who threw for 146-yards, added a touchdown on a 1-yard sneak before Noah Bhuta rounded out the scoring with a 27-yard field-goal.

“It was good to get the legs going tonight,” Daniels said. “I want to show what else I have other than throwing the ball.”

For the second straight week, the Mt. Lebanon defense was stout, holding the Panthers to 51 yards rushing and 146 total yards a week after allowing just 43 yards on the ground in beating Bethel Park.

Tecza also contributed on the defensive side of the ball from his safety position for the Blue Devils.

“Our front line has been dominating,” he said. “The run game hasn’t been able to much against them. We got some dogs up there. Our linebackers are dogs too. They really get after it on defense.”

Heidenriech, who is committed to the Naval Academy, hauled in three passes for 114-yards. He now has three touchdowns on the season. The senior has scored a touchdown in nine consecutive regular season games dating to last season.

“It’s great to be (2-0),” according to Daniels. “But at the end of the day, we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Blue Devils (2-0), who are ranked second in the Trib HSSN Class 6A rankings, have one final inter-classification tune-up next week at Peters Township before beginning conference play. Upper St. Clair fell to 1-1 with the loss. The Panthers return home next week to play host to Class 6A Baldwin.

“This is the last time playing USC, a huge rival,” Tecza said. “I’ve been playing against them since fifth grade. It’s just surreal to get the job done and we have bragging rights now.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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