Latrobe defeats Mt. Pleasant in teams’ 1st meeting since 1995

Friday, September 18, 2020 | 10:44 PM

Most coaches believe the most improvement a team makes during a season is between the first and second games.

That might be the case Friday as Latrobe ran over Mt. Pleasant, 35-7, in a nonconference matchup between a Class 5A program and a Class 3A program.

Latrobe (1-1) converted two Mt. Pleasant (1-1) turnovers into points, and Dylan Gustafson scored two touchdowns as the Wildcats outgained the Vikings, 385-139.

It was the first time since 1995 the teams met, and the Wildcats evened the series, 12-12-1.

Gustafson rushed for 97 yards, and Latrobe quarterback Landan Carns rushed for 88 and completed 8 of 17 passes for 138 yards.

“I thought we were a little inconsistent in the first half, but that’s because Mt. Pleasant gave us problems with stunts,” Latrobe coach Jason Marucco said. “I loved the way we came out with our effort and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. I thought we pursued to the ball and tackled really well.”

Mt. Pleasant’s only score came in the third quarter when quarterback Asher O’Connor hit Aaron Alakson on a 68-yard touchdown pass on a seam route to make it 21-7.

But the Wildcats didn’t flinch. They responded with a 70-yard drive, and Gustafson capped it with a 2-yard run. He also scored on an 8-yard run early in the third quarter following a Mt. Pleasant fumble.

“We were able to flip the field against them,” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said. “It was disappointing to not play well. Obviously, it didn’t does affect the conference.

“We were hoping to have a good game, but that other team played really well.”

Latrobe opened the scoring when Carns hit tight end Tucker Knupp on a slant pass, and the senior rumbled 64 yards for the score midway through the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.

Knupp finished with four catches for 106 yards.

The Wildcats made it 9-0 in the second quarter when John McHenry converted a 24-yard field goal. It was runs of 17 and 44 yards by Carns that set up the score.

“We felt we could get our quarterback on the perimeter,” Marucco said. “And when we were able to they were big plays for us. It flipped the field for us, and it allowed us to settle in.”

In the second half, the Wildcats’ ground game took over.

Gustafson and Kyle Brewer (16-yard run) scored touchdowns to push the lead to 21-0.

Gustafson and Bobby Fetter (3-yard run) capped the scoring for the Wildcats.

The Latrobe defense also forced three turnovers, including an interception by Gustafson.

Donavin Bair had an interception for the Vikings.

“We felt there were things we could get, and we were just missing them,” Fazekas said. “I thought their linebackers played really well.”

Mt. Pleasant returns to Interstate Conference action next week against rival Southmoreland. Latrobe has a nonconference game against Upper St. Clair.

“It was nice to bounce back after our loss to Penn-Trafford,” Marucco said. “We had a horrible start against them and then settled in. We knew we’re capable of playing better.”

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

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