Big plays help Franklin Regional blank Norwin, set up showdown with Hempfield

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Friday, October 7, 2022 | 10:48 PM


Franklin Regional didn’t play a perfect game Friday at Norwin. But the Panthers made enough big plays to defeat the Knights, 35-0, spoiling their homecoming at Norwin Stadium.

Senior running back Zach Bewszka rushed for 166 yards and scored on runs of 23 and 68 yards, and junior Ayden Hudock caught three passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns and picked off two passes and returned one 26 yards for a score as Franklin Regional (4-2, 4-0) stayed unbeaten in the WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference.

The victory sets up a huge game next week when the Panthers host Hempfield (5-2, 1-1).

“Every week is going to be tough when you play 5A football,” Franklin Regional coach Lance Getsy said. “The team understands what’s in front of them.”

Hudock’s interceptions came in the first quarter of a scoreless game.

Norwin (1-6, 0-3) had driven to the Franklin Regional 39 when Hudock stepped in front of a pass by freshman Nicholas Urey intended for Jackson Pons and returned it 45 yards to the Norwin 40.

“We came out, and my job was to lock on Jackson,” Hudock said. “When the kid rolled out, I knew the comeback was coming. He threw it right to me. I had another great read on the second pick.”

Six plays later, Bewszka raced 23 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

“The kids came out and did what they needed to do,” Getsy said. “We played good special teams, offense and defense.”

Two plays later, Hudock did one better. He picked off a pass thrown by junior Luke Denny and raced 26 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-0.

Norwin hurt itself with turnovers and penalties. The Knights had a touchdown called back in the second quarter because of a holding penalty and forced Joey Castle to attempt a 40-yard field goal, which hit the crossbar.

Franklin Regional quickly turned in three big plays to begin the third quarter.

On the second play of the second half, Bewszka caught a screen and raced 68 yards untouched for a touchdown to make it 20-0.

On Norwin’s first play of the half, Pons, running from the wildcat formation, got loose on a 24-yard run but fumbled, and the Panthers’ Austin Kerns recovered at the Norwin 44.

“We were just trying to get something going. That’s why we turned to Jackson,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “They made the big plays, and we didn’t. Every game has three, four, five plays that determine the outcome. Those two interceptions were important ones.”

On the next play, quarterback Roman Sarnic found Hudock beyond the Norwin secondary for a 44-yard score to make it 27-0.

“They were trying to come down on our strong side, and we were able to break it,” Getsy said. “Then we got the big pass to Aiden. When he gets the ball in his hands, he can make the plays.”

Hudock and Sarnic connected on a 55-yard catch and run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“Roman did a great job getting me the ball,” Hudock said.

Sarnic completed 5 of 14 passes for 131 yards. Pons ran for 101 yards and completed 6 of 17 passes for 74 yards for Norwin.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but we’re learning,” Getsy said. “We have a lot of sophomores out there, but they have to start playing like seniors. Hopefully, we can learn from these mistakes.”

They’ll have to play better next week if they want to stay on top of the conference.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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