Class 5A No. 1 Penn-Trafford rolls past Hampton

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Friday, October 18, 2019 | 10:44 PM


If you blinked Friday night at Fridley Field, you might have missed Penn-Trafford score on offense, defense and special teams — before the end of the first quarter.

The game was over as quickly as it started, as the No. 1 Warriors rolled past Hampton in a Class 5A nonconference matchup Friday night, 56-7.

Penn-Trafford (8-1, 5-0) dominated in all three phases.

“The defense took one back, and we actually challenged the punt return team before the game to do the same,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said.

Cade Yacamelli and Chris Popovich scored on punt returns of 45 and 55 yards, respectively. Ethan Carr nearly had a 90-yard kickoff score before halftime, but it was called back because of holding. Kicker Nathan Schlessinger made all eight extra-point attempts and forced multiple touchbacks on the kickoff.

“That was the phase we felt we were the weakest in last year that we stressed the heck out of, special teams in general,” Ruane said. “So we’re happy. It wasn’t the usual suspects doing the scoring tonight. We spread it around, which was nice to see.

With a Franklin Regional loss to McKeesport, Penn-Trafford clinches the Big East Conference outright despite a head-to-head matchup with the Panthers next week.

The Talbots started in an even-front defense Ruane and the Warriors did not expect. A quick adjustment to prioritize getting the ball in space paid dividends quickly, as quarterback Gabe Dunlap drew the Talbots defense in on a wideout screen and connected with Chase Vecchio for a 61-yard score.

The Warriors would use the same play later in the half, this time to Ethan Carr for a 35-yard score, to put the mercy rule in effect.

“The offensive line was great,” Dunlap said. “All the screens they blocked exceptionally. The receivers just got the balls in their hands and had to run in and score.”

The next Hampton drive, a contested ball intended for wideout Will Schuitt ended up in the hands of Mason Frye for at 27-yard interception return. There was contact on the play as Schuitt threw up his hands in disgust.

It was that kind of night for Hampton, which lost Schuitt on the ensuing kickoff after a hard tackle. With Gage Galuska sidelined with a concussion, the team’s top two wideouts were out.

“We’re so decimated with injuries,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “I know people say it’s football season. Everyone has injuries. But a small school like this, we have 18 kids out and high-2os kids dress. It’s tough. That’s a good team, and the circumstances we’re in, it’s tough.”

By the time Hampton switched to the wildcat with Luke Lindgren in the shotgun, the outcome was in hand.

Lindgren ran an 8-minute touchdown drive with the Talbots trailing 35-0.

“He’s a warrior,” DeMatteo said of Lindgren, who finished with 72 yards on 28 carries. “He and Josh (Andersson) have carried this team given the circumstances and the injuries. Hopefully, they stay healthy. I really appreciate those kids and their effort.”

Penn-Trafford did most of its damage on splash plays. Seven of its eight touchdowns were plays of more than 20 yards. Carr had two touchdowns with a 24-yard run and a 35-yard catch. Brad Ford started the scoring with a 35-yard run.

“We have some good athletes,” Ruane said. “We have some different guys that can touch the football and make plays. For us to be good in the playoffs we have to be able to spread the ball around and not rely on one or two guys to make plays.”

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