Derry rushes by Mt. Pleasant

Friday, September 13, 2019 | 10:54 PM

For fans who like old-fashioned smash-mouth football, Derry Trojans Stadium was the place to be Friday night.

Because of weather conditions, winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour, both teams were forced to abandon the passing game. Mt. Pleasant had minus-3 yards passing and Derry zero.

No. 5 Derry (3-1, 2-0) scored on its first possession of the game, on a 1-yard plunge by Pryce Donovan, and held on for a hard-fought 7-0 victory against Mt. Pleasant (2-2, 1-1) in a WPIAL Class 3A Big East Conference battle.

Both teams will be on the road next week, Derry visiting North Catholic at Mars and Mt. Pleasant going to Deer Lakes.

After Derry’s first drive, neither team could sustain drives because both teams played outstanding defense.

Interceptions stopped a couple of Derry drives. A lost fumble, an interception and eight penalties stalled Mt. Pleasant drives.

“We knew it was going to be a street fight,” Derry linebacker Seth Loughner said. “It was whoever was going to be tougher would win.”

Derry used a nine-play, 40-yard drive to score the game’s only touchdown. The Trojans completed the drive without senior running back Justin Huss, who left the series after two plays after banging up his knee.

Huss did return and rushed for 117 yards on 21 carries. Derry outrushed Mt. Pleasant, 206-122.

Derry coach Tim Sweeney mixed the running backs during the drive as Matt McDowell, Donovan and Mike Kelly carried the ball.

The Trojans converted two third downs during the drive on a runs of 9 and 6 yards by McDowell.

“Pitt-Penn State play tomorrow, but I can’t see a better game than this one,” Sweeney said. “I give Mt. Pleasant a lot of credit. Their kids played tough all night and that’s the type of kids they are.

“There were no tricks out there. We just ran at each other. Both teams took some shots through the air when we had the wind, but they were ready when we tried to pass.”

The deepest Mt. Pleasant got was the Derry 23, but two holding calls moved them back.

“If you want to beat a team like Derry, you can’t turn it over and you can’t have penalties,” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said. “It’s a focus of ours and we have to clean it up. The wind was a factor, but certainly not an excuse.

“Tim and I were talking at the end and you think about the history of Derry-Mt. Pleasant. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but I loved how our kids battled. I had the sense it was a tough, old-fashioned game. We needed to catch a break and couldn’t get it.”

In the fourth quarter, Mt. Pleasant drove to the Derry 47 before a Tanner Nicely tackle forced a fumble that Gavin Adams recovered with 7 minutes, 12 seconds left.

“Mt. Pleasant is a real tough team,” Nicely said. “They are every year. They’re our rival and we thought it would be a dogfight all game.

“The key to the win was our defense. They played amazing. We came in looking for a shutout and that’s what we got.”

Derry then ran out the clock, getting to the Mt. Pleasant 1 before Sweeney had quarterback Paul Koontz take a knee twice to run out the clock.

“Coach Sweeney was tough on us all week and told us we had to be tough and play hard,” Loughner said. “We were expecting them to be physical and they came at us.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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