Another big game for Ryan Palmieri leads surging Pine-Richland past Shaler

Friday, October 14, 2022 | 11:48 PM

Pine-Richland is hitting its stride at the perfect time. And Ryan Palmieri may be the biggest reason why.

Palmieri accounted for 324 yards of total offense as the Rams (5-3, 1-1) won a fourth straight game, blasting Shaler, 42-7, Friday night at Titan Stadium.

“You know, we’re rolling,” Pine-Richland coach Jon LeDonne said after the game.

Palmieri — a running back who has moved to quarterback over the last month — ran for 173 yards and two scores and passed for another 151 yards and a touchdown in the win.

“He’s a senior, he’s comfortable back there, and guys are rallying behind him,” LeDonne said.

The Rams scored on three straight first-half drives to build what proved to be an insurmountable lead.

Ethan Pillar scored on a 2-yard run for the game’s first score. Two drives later, Palmieri — on a third-and-18 — hit Brad Gelly over the middle for a 33-yard pass to spark the drive.

“We had that play in, like, all week of practice,” said Palmieri, who scored on a 45-yard run two plays later. “We knew that they were a one high safety team and that safety was just going to back off. We had Gelly on that deep over and just executed. Just hit it.”

On Pine-Richland’s next drive, the Rams found the end zone on a 7-yard Palmieri run.

“We were in position, but just didn’t make the plays that we needed to,” Shaler coach Jim Ryan said. “And we started to wear down towards the end of the second quarter. And then it’s hard to play catch-up in the third.”

On Pine-Richland’s opening drive of the third quarter, Pillar again went in from 2 yards out. He finished with 73 rushing yards.

However, Shaler (1-2, 4-4) then showed some life. Titans quarterback Keegan Smetanka — who passed for 156 yards — hit Joey DeSabato for a long gain. But Rams corner Bryce’O’Brien punched the ball out of DeBabato’s hands, and the ball was recovered by Pine-Richland in the end zone for a touchback.

“That was an awesome play,” Palmieri said.

Pine-Richland then went 80 yards to put the game on ice, as Palmieri found Gelly for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 35-0.

“Our O-line’s been doing a great job these past couple of weeks, and that’s really been the momentum builder,” Palmieri said. “Once we run the ball, it opens up the pass game.”

Smetanka got Shaler on the board late in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brandon London. The Rams responded with a 17-yard Luke Rudolph run for the game’s final score. Rudolph racked up 91 yards on the ground.

The Titans will be in must-win mode next week when they travel to Penn Hills.

“It’s not like we weren’t able to compete with Pine-Richland for a portion of the game,” Ryan said. “But where we’re at with injuries and numbers, we just don’t have enough guys to continue to replace them as the game goes on.”

Despite committing 12 penalties for 122 yards, Pine-Richland seems to be peaking. The Rams have wins over Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, Central Catholic and now Shaler in consecutive weeks.

Up next? A home game against Woodland Hills on Friday night.

“We were kind of in a ditch at the start of the season,” Palmieri said. “Now we’re just trying to ride the wave into the playoffs.”

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