Hempfield’s furious 4th quarter dooms Greensburg Salem

Friday, August 27, 2021 | 11:13 PM

Hempfield scored 22 points in the fourth quarter Friday and rallied to defeat rival Greensburg Salem, 29-14, at Spartan Stadium.

Junior quarterback Jake Phillips tossed two touchdown passes, including the winner to junior Ian Tuffs with 3 minutes, 2 seconds left to erase a 14-13 deficit.

Junior Elijah Binakonsky iced the win with a 29-yard interception return for a score with 2:08 left.

The Week Zero game was marred by mistakes on both sides, especially from Greensburg Salem, which turned the ball over six times and committed 16 penalties.

Hempfield leads the all-time series, 40-15-1 and has won the past five meetings.

It was the first win for new Hempfield coach Mike Brown.

Brown said he felt his team showed a lot of heart.

“We were down, and we fought back,” Brown said. “Some things didn’t go our way, but we’re always fighting. My hat’s off to our players.

“I think our conditioning was a factor. Gino (Carsar) is going to be our workhorse, and I felt Jake came into his own. It’s his offense, and he did well.”

Greensburg Salem struck quickly and grabbed a 7-0 lead when senior quarterback Hayden Teska tossed a 15-yard strike to Cody Rubrecht on the first drive of the game. Teska hit Rubrecht with a 43-yard pass on the second play of the game.

Teska completed 14 of 40 passes for 318 yards. Rubrecht caught seven passes for 197 yards.

The Golden Lions missed an opportunity to go up two scores on their next possession when the drive was halted at the Hempfield 17.

Then it missed a chance to score again following a Hempfield fumble at the Spartans’ 27. Greensburg Salem got to the Hempfield 13 before junior Anthony Vallano intercepted a Teska pass.

On the next play, Phillips tossed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Katonka to tie the score 7-7.

“We got into the locker room at halftime, and the coaches made some adjustments,” Hempfield junior lineman William Nelson said. “We have a great group of guys. Everyone stepped up and did their job. That’s what got us to come back.”

Teska and Rubrecht connected again in the third quarter on a 43-yard scoring strike to put the Golden Lions up 14-7. This came two plays after Matthew Wallace Jr. caught a 34-yard pass.

Greensburg Salem had a chance to go up 21-7 later in the third quarter after Rubrecht caught a 41-yard pass to the Hempfield 25. But on the play, Rubrecht cramped up and the Golden Lions offense seemed to do the same as Hempfield’s defense turned them away.

“We had an opportunity to go up 21-0 in the first half, we had a turnover on one and we walked away empty on another,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “”We just didn’t finish drives. I thought we played extremely hard, and I felt we made plays and we did a lot of great things.

“Our wide receivers caught the ball really well at times, but we didn’t make some critical catches. We had a chance to go up 21-7 and didn’t make a play.”

Hempfield took control of the fourth quarter behind the running of Gino Caesar. The Spartans drove 76 yards on the ground, and Caesar capped the drive with a 1-yard run with 8:00 left.

Greensburg Salem, however, blocked the extra point leaving the Spartans down, 14-13.

Caesar rushed for 101 yards, and Phillips completed 13 of 23 passes for 175 yards.

Caesar recovered a Greensburg Salem fumble at the 18, but the Spartans didn’t capitalize.

But a 25-yard punt return by Tuffs set up his 25-yard touchdown on a stop-and-go pass to give the Spartans the win.

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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

Tags: ,

More High School Football

Peters Township’s Brendan McCullough makes key interception in East-West all-star win
Norwin notebook: New football coach fills out staff
Central Catholic linebacker Cole Sullivan commits to Michigan
Latrobe linebacker getting Division I attention
Bob Palko among 5 football coaches chosen for PSFCA Hall of Fame