Hempfield handles rival Greensburg Salem in opener

Friday, August 23, 2019 | 10:52 PM

Hempfield’s big line played as advertised, getting a fairly strong push early.

But the Spartans did something they hadn’t planned to do — at least not this much — in their season opener. They went to the air.

With a gameplan that is, by all accounts, hell-bent on running the football, the Spartans and quarterback Blake Remaley instead opened the passing attack to take command.

A sound mix of pressure, big pass plays and upbeat defense — evened out by that running game — allowed Hempfield to dismantle rival Greensburg Salem, 40-3, on Friday night at Spartan Stadium.

“They were playing one high safety over the backside later in the game, but in the beginning they weren’t, so we were just taking shots,” Spartans senior quarterback Blake Remaley said. “I was so proud of our line. We dominated up front.”

Remaley completed 7 of 12 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and junior Mario Perkins ran for 118 yards and two scores as Class 6A Hempfield made it four straight wins against the Golden Lions.

This was one of the more lopsided scores in the series, which reached game No. 55 and was subjected to the mercy rule.

“We want to run the ball, no question,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “But we still have to be able to wing it around.

“They were loading nine or 10 guys in the box. We hit them on some big pass plays. Running back-wise, we ran for 278 yards. Our kids ran hard. We did both.”

The Spartans (1-0) still racked up their share of rushing yards, but many of them came with the game in hand.

“I thought we had a number of negative plays tonight, and that hurt us,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said.

“I thought Hempfield took some plays away from us. They stacked the box. I thought our line played well. Hempfield has some big, physical kids, but I didn’t think we were getting knocked off the football by any means.”

Hempfield honored the memory of alum and longtime superfan Terry Ranieri, who died Thursday after a battle with cancer. Ranieri would have appreciated this one.

“He would say this was a great win,” Perkins said. “He’d say, ‘Hempfield pride. Cool like whip.’ ”

Two first-half interceptions also propelled Hempfield to a fast start in the nonconference game for community pride and bragging rights.

Junior Demetrius Murphy, who played well on both sides for Hempfield, returned an interception 47 yards to open the scoring as the Spartans applied pressure to Greensburg Salem senior quarterback Trent Patrick.

“The two turnovers were big,” Keefer said. “And (Hempfield) didn’t have any.”

Patrick was held to 45 yards passing. Perkins, who had an interception on defense, took an inside handoff and bounced outside for a 55-yard score late in the opening quarter.

“Our line was killing physically off the line the whole game,” Perkins said. “They are everything to us. We came out physically. We knew we had a good group of guys coming back. We came out ready to play. We’ve been ready to go since the summer.”

With the Class 4A Golden Lions (0-1) unable to contain the pass, Remaley zinged a 16-yard scoring throw to Roman Pellis in the corner of the end zone for a 21-0 advantage.

Remaly dumped off a short throw to Randy Nelson, and the senior did the rest for a 45-yard touchdown as the Spartans built a 27-3 lead by halftime.

Greensburg Salem was held to 0 yards rushing in the first half and could only muster a 23-yard field goal by Wyatt Ramer just before the break.

Perkins ran for a 19-yard touchdown early in the second half before Nate Roby, who had a big game last season against the Golden Lions in a 27-24 victory, broke loose for a 45-yard score to kick-start the mercy rule with 5 minutes, 8 seconds to go in the third.

Roby added 76 yards rushing, and Murphy had 60.

Hempfield outgained Greensburg Salem, 424-71.

“We had a lot of tackles for loss,” Bowen said. “I am thrilled with the way our defense played. We switched it up, a lot of fronts, and did some nice things. It was a total positive.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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