Greensburg Central Catholic pulls away from Leechburg with big second half

Friday, September 29, 2017 | 10:24 PM

After a closely contested first half between Class A Eastern Conference foes, Greensburg Central Catholic (2-4, 1-2) turned a 20-13 halftime lead into a 36-13 victory over Leechburg (0-6, 0-5) by tightening its defense and overpowering the Blue Devils with its ground attack on offense.

Running back Tom Voelker keyed the Centurions offense, racking up 182 of his 259 rushing yards in the second half. The sophomore scored twice in his 20 carries.

Not to be outdone by his teammate, junior quarterback Max Pisula completed nine of 19 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns to go with a 10-yard rushing score.

“Tom is a hard-nosed player, and that's how he runs,” GCC coach Aaron Smetanka said. “He always wants the ball in his hands, but it's tough because him and Max both always want the ball in their hands. We have to keep a simple game plan to get those guys the work, but they both just never want to come out of the game.

“It's great to see it though. They each have a great work ethic, and it shows game-in and game-out.”

Both of Pisula's passing touchdowns came in the first half, with the first going for 15 yards to James Rice and the second for 30 yards to Bryce Kurpiel.

Greensburg Central Catholic's offensive explosion comes on the heels of a two-game stretch where Smetanka saw his team accumulate just three total points in eight quarters.

“A performance like this definitely builds a little more confidence up, especially for the guys up front on the line,” Smetanka said. “I think we needed that boost after last week.

“It was good to see. We picked up blitzes and did a good job blocking. Even downfield, guys stayed with their blocks and helped us finish out the game strong.”

For Leechburg, quarterback Dylan Cook's sharp play in the first half of the game helped keep his team within striking distance. The freshman threw two early touchdown passes, one to Tanner Dudek and the other to Ezekiel Keitzer.

Cook finished with 60 yards on 7-of-11 passing, but the Blue Devils' offense wore down in the second half and couldn't get back on the board.

Still, for a team that has a roster made up almost entirely of underclassmen, it was a game Leechburg coach Mark George said everyone can learn and build from.

“Greensburg was able to make some plays in the second half,” George said. “We came out a little fired up in the first. It's well documented that we're playing one senior and one junior, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores.

“So I'm proud of the fight. We haven't seen the fight in a few weeks. We just have to execute better in the second half, like we did in the first. That's just maturity.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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