Montour rides wildcat to victory over Highlands

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 10:41 PM

Despite the absence of quarterback Luke Persinger, the Montour Spartans have “wildcatted” their way into the Class 4A playoff race.

After an overtime victory last week against previously undefeated Knoch, Montour won again Friday night with Gannon Kadlecik and Dom Magliocco running out of the wildcat formation.

Kadlecik scored twice on fourth-down conversions, and the Spartans defense held Highlands to 14 rushing yards as Montour defeated the Golden Rams, 17-0, at Thomas Birko Stadium.

The victory put the Spartans (3-4, 2-2) in a tie with New Castle for the fourth and final playoff berth from the Northwest 8 Conference.

New Castle, however, owns the tiebreaker over Montour by virtue of a 28-21 victory. Montour has games remaining against Ambridge, Beaver Area and first-place South Fayette.

“We’ve got some athletes,” Spartans coach Lou Cerro said. “Unfortunately, when your quarterback’s out you’ve got to make some changes when you don’t have a backup. Our kids are buying in and getting done what they need to do.”

Neither Kadlecik nor Magliocco went under center for a snap, and Cerro indicated that attack will continue until Persinger returns.

Big plays led to Montour scoring.

After taking the opening kickoff, a reverse by Kadlecik went for 32 years to the Highlands 11. On fourth down, Kadlecik spun out of a grasp at the 1 and scored.

Late in the first quarter, Magliocco’s 46-yard run set up a 34-yard field goal by Robbie Rippole.

On the next series, Montour got favorable field position at the Golden Rams 28 on a punt return. Again, it was Kadlecik taking a pitch from Magliocco rolling to his left, resulting in a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down.

That put Montour in front 17-0 with 5 minutes, 33 seconds left in the half.

The loss dampened playoff hopes for Highlands, now 2-5, 2-3.

The Golden Rams depended on big plays last season behind Seth Cohen, the Alle-Kiski Valley’s leading all-time passer.

Now, coach Dom Girardi is looking for a more patient offense.

Said Girardi: “We need to settle down and be happy with 5, 5, 6-yard gains. We’re too focused on trying to get 80-yard splash plays. If we could get 4, 4 and 4, that’s 12 and a first down. We should be happy with that.”

Girardi was happy with his team’s defensive play, keeping Montour the scoreboard in its last six possessions.

“It’s been like a 180 from last year,” Girardi said. “We felt we could put up points anytime we wanted, and the defense struggled. This year, except a couple games earlier on, we’ve knocked people down.”

Quarterback Chandler Thimons completed six of 21 passes for 96 yards. The Golden Rams drove to the Montour 8, but Logan Persinger stopped Thimons on fourth down.

Senior defensive end Justin Labrie had two key plays for the Spartans. He pressured Thimons into an interception early in the fourth period and a tipped pass preceded a second Montour interception.

Kadlecik ran for 114 yards in 23 carries, Magliocco had 67 yards and Will White 59 yards.

Montour completed one pass in four attempts for 8 yards.

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