Laurel Highlands prevails in toe-to-toe battle with Southmoreland

Friday, September 3, 2021 | 10:29 PM

Southmoreland matched Laurel Highlands score for score, but the rushing attack of Rodney Gallagher and Eric Allen was too much for the Scotties in the Mustangs’ 28-21 victory on Friday at Russ Grimm Field.

Gallagher ran for 157 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns and Allen added 149 yards on 16 attempts and one score.

“They are a good football team, so we knew it was going to be a battle,” Laurel Highlands coach Rich Kolesar said. “Eric (Allen) is a terrific kid. He does it all, in the weight room and on the field, and he’s a great team player, so we’ve got a lot of good weapons right now.”

Gallagher’s 43-yard touchdown run up the middle with 8:35 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning score. Harry Radcliffe added the fourth of four PATs.

Southmoreland (1-1) drove to the Laurel Highlands’ 24, but the Mustangs (2-0) forced a fourth-and-5 and Keondre DeShields stopped the Scotties’ Trevell Clayton short of the sticks.

“For a kid that is just starting to play football, to learn to come up and hit like that …” Kolesar said. “He is very coachable and doing great right now.”

LH took over at its own 20 with 3:46 left and Allen and Gallagher picked up several first downs before running out the clock.

“We grinded it out the whole game down to the very end,” Southmoreland coach Dave Keefer said. “We want to play teams like that. We want that challenge. We don’t want any patsies on the schedule. We had some dumb mistakes in the first half and had too many turnovers. Hats off to Laurel Highlands. They put a good product out there.”

Laurel Highlands opened the scoring on Gallagher’s 1-yard run at 8:43 of the first and Radcliffe added the PAT. The Mustangs only needed to cover 36 yards after stopping Anthony Govern for no gain on a fourth-and-1.

Southmoreland responded on the ensuing drive and marched 65 yards in 11 plays. Govern scored on a 2-yard run and Jake Kaylor added the first of three extra points with 2:55 left in the first.

LH took a 14-7 lead on Allen’s 7-yard run with six seconds left in the first. Gallagher had a 40-yard run on the drive and Allen added a 16-yard scamper. The Scotties were penalized 15 yards for a facemask that set the visitors up at the 12.

The Mustangs were driving with less than eight minutes to go in the second when Isaac Trout intercepted Gallagher in the end zone.

Southmoreland drove 80 yards in six plays and tied the game at 5:02 of the second on Govern’s 9-yard run. Govern threw a 45-yard pass to Josh Bass and LH was penalized 15 yards.

Tahji Hooper’s interception at the Laurel Highlands at 6:36 of the third setup Laurel Highlands at its own 40 and Gallagher scored at 4:32 of the third with a run up the middle and a 21-14 advantage after Radcliffe’s PAT.

LH was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after the score, which set up the Scotties with good field position and the home team tied the game up on Trout’s 4-yard run and Kaylor’s PAT with 1:09 left in the third.

Gallagher fumbled heading into the end zone for the score on the ensuing drive, but Matt Lucas got the ball back for the visitors when he recovered a Southmoreland fumble.

Both coaches agreed there are things they can work on for next week.

Govern was 14 of 20 for 176 yards, and he gained 36 yards on 16 carries. Bass had three receptions for 83 yards.

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