South Fayette’s Naman Alemada throws 5 touchdowns in win over New Castle

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Friday, September 6, 2019 | 10:21 PM


South Fayette’s Naman Alemada tossed five touchdown passes in Friday night’s 37-21 victory, but those throws weren’t the only ones that left New Castle coach Joe Cowart impressed.

Rather, Cowart pointed to a 21-yard back-shoulder throw early in the fourth quarter and a few other well-placed ones like it.

“Spectacular,” said Cowart, himself a former quarterback. “What a throw and catch. That was a third-and-eight … and the kid makes a great throw. They took advantage of those clutch-moment plays and we didn’t.”

The victory kept third-ranked South Fayette (2-1, 2-0) undefeated in the Northwest Eight. The Lions haven’t lost a conference game since joining Class 4A in 2016.

A 6-foot-5 junior, Alemada completed his first nine passes and finished 19 of 26 for 267 yards and no interceptions, an efficient effort in a complex offense.

He connected with seven different receivers and threw touchdowns to four different wideouts including a pair to junior Joey Audia. Ryan McGuire, Luke Pschirer and Nolan Lutz also caught touchdowns from Alemada, a first-year starter for the Lions.

“We’ve grown a lot since Week Zero,” said Pschirer, who also caught Alemada’s back-shoulder throw. “We have a lot more chemistry and we’re finding our place.”

South Fayette’s offense is designed to spread the ball around and Alemada made sure that happened.

“I wanted to get everybody catches,” said Alemada, who promised McGuire a touchdown for his birthday and delivered on the opening drive. “I’d get everybody a touchdown if I can.”

South Fayette scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and led 23-7 at halftime, a lead that reached 30-7 in the third.

“The game’s slowing down a little bit (for Alemada),” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said, “but that’s any high school kid when they start to get comfortable.”

Senior running back Demetris McKnight led fifth-ranked New Castle (2-1, 1-1) with 139 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. After a slow first half against South Fayette’s defense, McKnight had 84 yards and both scores after halftime.

His longest was a 59-yarder in the third.

“We were more physical at the point of attack (in the second half),” Cowart said. “We were feeling our way around — I don’t know how else to describe it — to start the game. … We need to play faster and more physical if we want to contend with teams the quality of South Fayette.”

The second quarter sunk New Castle’s night.

Trailing 14-7, quarterback Michael Wells was stuffed on a fourth-and-one at South Fayette’s 30-yard line. Two possessions later, South Fayette celebrated a safety when a New Castle punt snap flew into the end zone.

Quickly, that seven-point South Fayette lead became 16.

“There were certainly a handful of moments in that game that if they go differently, it’s probably a much closer ballgame,” Cowart said.

Alemada considered Friday a bounce-back night. He’d thrown four interceptions at home in Week Zero, a nonconference loss to Upper St. Clair.

This week in a conference matchup that mattered more, he delivered.

Audia’s touchdown catches covered 47 and 12 yards. McGuire caught an 18-yarder, Pschirer’s was 11 yards and Lutz’s added a 3-yarder.

“It was surreal,” Alemada said. “I wanted to have a bounce-back performance at home after USC. We worked hard on this all week and I felt comfortable knowing that I trust my guys and they trust me. There’s no doubt we can score any time we want to.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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