Kiski Area staves off Hampton comeback for section victory

Friday, September 27, 2019 | 11:29 PM

Down four points with 54 seconds left, Hampton turned to running back Luke Lindgren in a fourth-and-3 situation at Kiski Area’s 9-yard line.

The Talbots running back, who wears number 36 as a nod to Jerome Bettis, had grinded out tough yards all game.

Lindgren took the handoff, collided with Kiski Area linebacker Brock Wilkins at the line of scrimmage and churned his feet, but the Cavaliers’ cavalry arrived before Lindgren had a chance to break away.

Kiski Area (3-3, 2-3) won 21-17 and escaped a near Hampton comeback in the Northern Conference.

“I was afraid, truthfully, after losing in an all-out game against Penn Hills, that it would be hard to get back up this week,” Kiski Area coach Sam Albert said. “But they came in focused and made big plays and made the biggest one at the end when we needed it most, so I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Talbots were down 21-7 at halftime but shut out the Cavaliers offense in the second half and chipped away at their lead.

Hampton (2-4, 2-3) recovered its onside kick to start the third quarter, drove the ball to the 22-yard line and scored on a 39-yard Matt DeMatteo field goal.

The Talbots intercepted a pass to set up their next drive, which was capped by a 32-yard touchdown run by Lindgren, who had 154 yards on 29 carries.

“I’m so proud of our kids for the way they came back and battled, and we were just a few (plays) short,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said.

Despite being able to advance the ball throughout game, the Talbots kept finding ways to stall in and around the end zone.

Kiski Area stood tall in a fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line on the first drive of the game. Cavaliers defensive back Kyrell Hutcherson picked off Matt DeMatteo in the second quarter at the goal line on what could have been a 25-yard touchdown pass with more air under the ball.

“I think those are instances when usually we’d have some of our seniors (who are injured) in, and you probably pick those up,” Jacque DeMatteo said. “Those were plays we ran the whole way down the field. You pick up chunks, and then when it counts you’ve got to find a way to come through, and it was close each time.”

Kiski Area’s offense was led by Kenneth Blake in the first half.

The Cavaliers usually spread the ball around, but Blake received the bulk of the touches.

“Today was the Kenneth Blake show,” Albert said. “When you have a horse, ride him. We tried new things like spreading out in the second half, and (we) should have just stuck with him. As you saw, he’s a monster and got us a first down at the end for us to run out the clock.”

Blake had 26 carries for 172 yards and three touchdowns.

“We came in ready for Hampton, and my offensive line was killing it for me to get through the holes,” Blake said. “(Hampton) put nine in the box in the second half and came out ready for the most part to shut me down. I feel really happy it wasn’t enough, and we got the win.”

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