Hempfield’s Nathan Roby fills stat sheet in win over Norwin

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Friday, September 6, 2019 | 11:18 PM


At 5 feet, 7 inches and 155 pounds, Hempfield’s Nathan Roby doesn’t appear to be a daunting presence on the football field.

Norwin might say otherwise.

Roby had a fantasy footballer’s delight of a game as he led the Spartans to a 34-17 victory over the Knights on Friday night in a Class 6A conference game in North Huntingdon.

Roby rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns, caught seven passes for 151 yards — including an 80-yard score on the Spartans’ first play from scrimmage — and also intercepted two passes for Hempfield (2-1, 1-1), which racked up nearly 500 yards of offense against the injury-plagued Knights (0-3, 0-2).

“I run with heart, I run to score and I try not to take no for an answer,” Roby said. “I am always trying to get as many yards as possible.”

Roby, who runs a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and a 10.9-second 100-yard dash, helped the Spartans complement a solid defensive effort that kept Norwin quarterback Jack Salopek moving in the pocket.

“Nathan Roby is an outstanding football player,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen. “We were well-balanced tonight. We have to clean some things up, too many penalties. But it’s a win so I’ll take it.”

The win could give Hempfield an inside track to a potential playoff spot down the road.

Norwin, meantime, is trying to recover from several injuries. Lineman Aaron Bowen, the son of the Hempfield coach, missed his third straight game with a foot injury, while two other starters, lineman Connor Vogel and receiver Ryan Hileman also did not play.

“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “We did a lot of little things that lead to losses. I will say this, though, our boys never quit and kept chopping away.”

Hempfield quarterback Blake Remaley finished 20 of 26 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns and Mario Perkins ran for 70 yards for the Spartans.

Salopek, a Western Michigan recruit, finished 15 of 32 for 180 yards and two touchdowns — both to Sean Pavlic — and three interceptions – all in the first quarter.

A lot of the action happened in the first quarter when it looked like Norwin was going to play the Spartans close.

Norwin had a productive opening drive going before it was dashed by Roby, who picked off Salopek on third and goal from the 4.

One play later, the speedy Roby pulled in a pass over the middle and showed his breakaway speed as Remaley delivered a lofty strike for an 80-yard scoring play.

“You watch the film and you see what Roby can do,” Brozeski said. “What jumps out at you is his passion and heart. Our kids have that, too, and they kept fighting.”

Roby intercepted Salopek again on the next drive, but Hempfield fumbled and Austin Kantz recovered for the Knights.

After Salopek scrambled for 13 yards on third down, he zipped a pass to Pavlic in the corner of the end zone. The scoring play covered 31 yards but the Knights could not get off the extra point and trailed 7-6.

Hempfield pressured Salopek again, bumped the senior’s arm and forced him to throw a third pick, this time to Joey Benz.

The Spartans turned the takeaway into points as Mario Perkins ran the ball five times before Remaley scored on a 2-yard run to make it 14-6.

Norwin, which had been outscored 84-7 in its first two games but showed improvement offensively, was moving the ball well again midway through the second quarter but had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from freshman Joey Castle to get within 14-9.

Hempfield added another score before the half as Remaley hit Randy Nelson from 8 yards out for a 21-9 advantage.

“We knew we had to come out strong in the first half and shut them down, especially in the secondary,” Roby said. “We focused on our technique and pinching the routes and it showed.”

Last year against Norwin, Remaley completed 15 of 23 passes for 147 yards and three scores. He had 202 yards by halftime this time.

“Once we got up a couple scores they had to really open it up,” Bowen said, “and we were really able to pressure them.”

Roby added a rushing touchdown late in the third when he squeezed through the pile, turning what looked to be a no-gainer into a 22-yard score to push the advantage to 27-9.

A personal foul allowed Norwin to move the ball to the Hempfield 15 – Mario Perkins took down Salopek – and the Knights went to the end zone on the next play.

Salopek threw a 15-yard score to Pavlic and then he found Tanner Krevokuch for the 2-point conversion to to get the Knights within 27-17 with 11:40 to play.

Hempfield’s line pushed the Knights down the field on the ensuing possession and Roby punctuated an 11-play drive with a 2-yard score to double up the Knights, at 34-17.

Pavlic had five catches for 74 yards and Ty Bilinsky caught five passes for 60 yards for Norwin.

Hempfield played without junior running back and defensive back Demetrius Murphy (concussion).

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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