Fox Chapel edges Hampton to claim first win

Friday, September 20, 2019 | 11:03 PM

In a show of patriotism, the Hampton student section’s theme was red, white and blue for the Talbots’ homecoming tilt with Fox Chapel.

Unfortunately for the home team, it was Shane Susnak and Fox Chapel that provided the fireworks in the early going and hung on for a 16-13 win at Fridley Field.

The Foxes used a spread offense and efficient quarterback play from senior Shane Susnak, who went 14 for 19 for 142 yards and a touchdown. The win likely saves what could have been a doomed season for the Foxes (1-4, 1-3).

“We still control our own destiny,” said Foxes coach Tom Loughran, who secured his 200th win as a WPIAL head coach. “We want to use this as a stepping stone going forward into those last three conference games. Our kids have been great, even though we haven’t had success, of staying with us and being positive.”

There were plenty more flags than just the American variety at Fridley Field. Eighteen penalties were called between the two teams, split evenly between nine for 94 yards for Fox Chapel and nine for 93 for Hampton.

It led to a choppy contest that made a rhythm difficult to establish for either team, especially Hampton after senior captain and quarterback Ian Andersson went down with a shoulder injury after throwing a first-quarter interception.

“We were just a little bit flat,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “You lose your starting quarterback. The name Andersson carries a lot of weight around here. They’re great people in the community and provide a lot of leadership. I think that makes them feel down a little bit.”

Sophomore Matt DeMatteo entered the game in relief for the third time in four games.

Two key fourth-down plays — one in the first half and one in the second — changed the outcome of the game. DeMatteo missed on a roll-out pass in the flat on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter after a long Hampton drive.

In the third, receiver Gage Galuska lost a contested fade ball in the corner of the end zone. DeMatteo later connected with Galuska on a 9-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to pull Hampton within three.

“The second half we were a little bit better,” DeMatteo said. “Obviously some key injuries have sidelined us. It’s the old cliche, next man in. But they’re starters for a reason. They provide maturity and senior leadership and skill.”

The spread offense Fox Chapel executed gave Hampton trouble on the edges and out in space, which frustrated DeMatteo.

“We had some one-on-ones and just didn’t tackle well in space,” he said. “Some of that is youth. Some of that is just making a play.”

The Talbots jumped back into the game with a 42-yard Luke Lindgren touchdown run midway through the third, but the Fox Chapel rhythm passing attack and speed on the edge largely kept the ball out of his hands.

The Talbot was a bruiser all night, racking up 162 yards on 31 carries.

“We did a good job against their offense most of the time,” Loughran said. “We didn’t do a good job against their power game. We weren’t closing it down.”

The next time they got the ball, the Foxes executed a 12-play, 65-yard field goal drive that ate up the rest of the third quarter clock. A Zakaria Essaouab 33-yard kick made it a two-possession game at 16-7 to begin the fourth, which proved to be just enough of a cushion.

The Foxes didn’t put up a ton of points, but only went three-and-out once. Their last fourth-quarter drive resulted in four first downs and ended with Susnak executing a perfect pooch punt to the Hampton 1-yard line with 40 seconds left.

“That’s what we try to preach to our kids,” Loughran said. “They’re playing too. And if they score that’s OK, but let’s try to answer their score with something positive on our end.”

Check out an archived broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

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