Greensburg Salem reverses fortunes in 4th quarter, pulls away from Connellsville

Friday, September 3, 2021 | 11:08 PM

In its opener a week ago, Greensburg Salem folded in the fourth quarter. The Golden Lions didn’t let it happen again on Friday night.

Greensburg Salem scored 20 fourth-quarter points to pull away from visiting Connellsville and earn a 36-19 victory.

Hayden Teska threw a touchdown pass and rushed for another, and Rashad Canady scored twice on touchdown runs to lead Class 4A Greensburg Salem (1-1), which blew a fourth-quarter lead and lost to CLass 6A Hempfield a week ago.

“It was a much-improved second half tonight,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “We didn’t look fatigued, like we did last week.”

Class 5A Connellsville kept the pressure on Greensburg Salem for three quarters, staying within striking distance before a fourth-quarter collapse.

“We’re a program right now, we just don’t know how to win,” first-year Connellsville coach Bill Maczko said. “I feel encouraged that the young guys are getting some experience, but I feel bad for the upper classmen. I want them to hang in there because were going to get there.”

Greensburg Salem (1-1) carried a 14-6 lead into halftime, with Canady scoring both Golden Lions touchdowns on runs of 8 yards in the first quarter and 5 yards in the second quarter.

His second touchdown run with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half came just 55 seconds after Connellsville closed within 7-6 on Anthony Piasecki’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Jayden McBride.

The Falcons earlier missed on another scoring chance when a high snap was bobbled on a 35-yard field-goal attempt by Ben Zavatchon, who fell on the ball as Greensburg Salem regained possession on downs.

Teska threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Donavin Waller and scored on a 1-yard run in a span of 1:23 to ignite a 20-point scoring burst in the fourth quarter for Greensburg Salem, which wasted a one-point fourth-quarter lead against Hempfield and lost to the Spartans, 29-14, in its opener.

Against Connellsville, Teska finished 11 for 21 for 171 yards passing.

Penalties hampered Greensburg Salem, but the Golden Lions overcame it and wore down the Falcons as the game progressed.

“I didn’t think we played bad in the first half,” Keefer said, “but like last week, we blew a couple of opportunities. We did some dumb things. We get lazy on coverage, and we don’t finish routes at times and that’s just bad habits we have to break.

Greensburg Salem, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, provided special camouflage-style uniforms for its players to honor all military personnel. The uniform displayed the state’s name on the back.

It was a good result while wearing the new look.

“We have a really good core of guys,” Keefer said. “We’ve got some skill, we’re solid up front and the quarterback (Teska) can throw. Our defense has played very well the past two weeks. We’ve got to give up the vertical throws. We had the coverage, but we just blew it a couple of times on critical plays tonight.”

Keefer said he likes the makeup of this year’s team.

“You’ve got to learn how to win as a team and we’re trying to do that,” he said. “This is a good group. They don’t take the criticsm personal as us attacking them. They take it as we know how good they can be and they work on it.”

Connellsville quarterback Anthony Piasecki completed 13 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown of 11 yards to Jayden McBride in the second quarter that pulled the Falcons within 7-6.

After Piasecki’s 1-yard keeper closed Connellsville within 14-12 with 7:17 remaining in the third quarter, the Falcons got backed up in their end. They fell behind 16-12 by botching a punt from the end zone, resulting in a Greensburg Salem safety.

Teska’s TD pass to Waller capped a drive that started when Greensburg Salem got the ball back following the safety and increased the Golden Lions’ lead to 23-12, and Connellsville couldn’t recover. J.C. Wallish also scored for Greensburg Salem. on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Connellsville failed to score on 2 of 3 opportunities near the goal line.

“We’ve had some injuries up front, so we’ve had to change what we do offensively,” Maczko said. “Defensively, we made stops when we had to. We had chances to score a couple of times up close. We’ve got to make that happen.”

Connellsville’s other score came late in the fourth quarter when Graydon Gillot threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Shultz.

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