Knoch blanks Hampton in season opener

Friday, August 23, 2019 | 10:13 PM

Entering their WPIAL Week Zero nonconferene matchup, the 52nd edition of the Knoch versus Hampton rivalry, the all-time series was tied at 25-25-1.

Knoch made sure to break that tie in head coach Brandon Mowry’s first game at the helm, and they did so with authority. The Knights opened a 17-0 lead in the first-half and coasted to a 24-0 victory.

For Mowry, defeating a longtime foe only made his first head coaching victory that much sweeter.

“It’s big. I’ve been here all these years that we’ve played Hampton, and we’ve had some battles,” Mowry said.

“I read that we lost our last five in a row to them so we wanted to break that streak, and it was huge to do it on our own field tonight.

“There’s always going to be things we need to change or go back and clean up, and we’ll look at the film. But for now, it’s a great win and I couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”

The Knights received a workhorse performance from running back Matt Goodlin. The senior racked up 130 yards on 26 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run.

Quarterback Kam Grassi added another potent rushing element to the Knoch offense in the victory. In his first varsity start as a signal-caller, the senior had 12 carries for 53 yards and two touchdown runs.

“Kam came in here, and he worked his tail off all winter and spring. He’s been the man, taking those reps, and he really just came in and performed for us tonight. It was awesome to see,” Mowry said.

“And to see a kid like Matty excel the way that he did, the same as he did all last season, it’s great to see those types of performances.”

However, the real standout performance of the night belonged to the Knoch defense, which limited Hampton to just 147 yards on 40 offensive plays (3.7 yards per play). The Knights also created turnovers, forcing four fumbles, three of which they recovered, to go along with a blocked punt and a Scott Fraser interception.

“Our kids, it wasn’t elaborate, they were just ready to get after it. They wanted to make plays. They were hungry. First game on the home field. They wanted to get after it,” Mowry said of his defense.

Kicker Justin Tristiani booted a 21-yard field goal to chip in three more points in the win.

The Week Zero loss was a less-than-ideal start for Hampton as the team had to play without starting quarterback Ian Andersson, who hurt his ankle in practice this week. Sophomore Matt DeMatteo started in his place and performed well, but turnovers killed the Talbots’ chances, according to their coach.

“Turnovers, playing the ball on our side of the field the whole time, we were soft; that’s what happened,” Hampton coach Jacques DeMatteo said.

“We put our defense in a bad spot. We were playing on a short field the whole entire time. Turnovers killed us. We didn’t take care of the ball.”

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