McCoy’s kick return sparks run of 29 unanswered points for Laurel in win over Beaver Falls

Friday, September 17, 2021 | 11:28 PM

Laurel needed a spark, and Luke McCoy provided it.

After a touchdown that put Beaver Falls up by 11 in the third quarter, McCoy fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 20 and raced down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.

From there the Spartans became a buzz saw.

Laurel scored 29 unanswered points to finish the game and rolled to a 39-21 victory over the Tigers in the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference opener Friday night at Spartan Stadium.

“We switched where Kobe (DeRosa) and I stood, and they kicked it right to me,” McCoy said. “I just took it to the house. Once we had momentum, it was game over from there.”

Laurel (4-0, 1-0) ended a 10-game losing streak to the Tigers (0-3, 0-1), but it looked bleak in the third quarter when a bad snap led to a fumble by Laurel that was recovered by Beaver Falls inside the Spartans 10-yard line.

Singleton ended up scoring for the Tigers on an 8-yard run, and Beaver Falls was up 21-10. But then McCoy’s touchdown happened, and it was on for the Spartans from there.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Spartans quarterback DeRosa ran a dive designed to get a few yards, but he found a hole and kept running, breaking several tackles on his way to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown.

“We just wanted to start the quarter strong and get a couple yards, but I just kept going and the next thing I knew I scored,” DeRosa said.

Laurel got a safety later in the fourth when a snap went awry for Beaver Falls backed up inside its own 5, and Trey Singleton had to fall on the ball in the end zone.

On the next possession McCoy rushed for a 48-yard touchdown, and DeRosa added another touchdown on a 1-yard run to complete a 22-point fourth quarter.

McCoy finished with 157 yards on 17 carries and three total touchdowns.

Spartans coach Brian Cooper wasn’t surprised to see his team rally after going down two scores in the second half.

“You could see in their eyes that they were ticked,” Cooper said. “They didn’t put their heads down. They wanted it, and they played their butts off in that second half.”

Beaver Falls got a big play just before halftime when, on a broken play, quarterback Jaren Brickner rolled out to his left and heaved a ball that was caught by Mekhi Clark inside the Laurel 5-yard line. Singleton scored from 3 yards to give the Tigers a 14-10 lead heading into the break.

The Tigers struggled on offense after McCoy’s kick return. Brickner completed only 3 of 10 passes in the second half. Penalties also hampered the Tigers. They were whistled for a half dozen personal fouls and 11 penalties in total. Tigers running back Isaiah Aeschbacher was ejected in the fourth quarter and will not be eligible to play in next Friday’s game against Ellwood City.

It was a tough start to conference play for the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion Tigers.

“We’re not playing good football, and we’re making too many mistakes that we haven’t been able to overcome,” Beaver Falls coach Nick Nardone said. “It’s not all on the kids. I’m making mistakes as a coach. This is on me. Everything you see on the field goes back to the head coach. The post whistle penalties are on me. I need to be stricter with these guys. This entire game falls on me for letting this game out of hand and letting the season start the way it has.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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