No ‘doormat’: Moon tied for 1st after defeating Upper St. Clair
Friday, October 11, 2019 | 10:49 PM
A year after winning only one conference game, Moon just might win the Allegheny 8 title.
Wildcat runner Jamal Littlejohn scored twice and Moon’s defense was disruptive again Friday night as the fifth-ranked Tigers defeated Upper St. Clair, 20-6, showing that they’re ready to contend in this unpredictable WPIAL Class 5A conference.
The night ended with Moon (6-2, 4-1), Bethel Park (5-2, 4-1) and Peters Township (7-1, 4-1) tied for first.
“We had so many prior years of us being the doormat of the conference,” senior lineman Brenden Luffey said, “being stepped on (by people) saying, ‘Oh, it’s just Moon. They’re going to go 2-8, 1-9.’
“The group of kids we have this year really stepped up,” Luffey added, “and I feel like we’re making a name for ourselves.”
No team has had a greater one-year turnaround this fall than the Tigers, who went 2-8 overall, 1-6 in the conference last season. “Physical” is the adjective opponents have used most to describe Moon, but add “confident” to that list too.
“It’s cool that you’re having a good season, but that’s not enough now,” third-year coach Ryan Linn said. “We’re at that point now where you might as well keep going and make it special.”
Moon finishes its conference schedule at Woodland Hills (2-6, 0-5) and West Allegheny (3-4, 2-4).
The loss drops Upper St. Clair (5-3, 3-2) a game behind the conference leaders with matchups against Peters Township and Bethel Park remaining.
“With this conference as crazy as it is right now, you’ve got to keep showing up every week,” USC coach Mike Junko said. “We’ve got two games left on our schedule. We’ve got to make sure we’re playing our best football.”
Moon’s defense sacked USC quarterback Ethan Dahlem four times and intercepted him twice. Causing the most disruption were the Tigers’ front four of Luffey (6-foot-2, 285 pounds), Ben Bladel (5-11, 215), Andrew Sampson (5-8, 210) and Dalton Dobyns (6-3, 210).
The Panthers’ lone touchdown was a 76-yard run by Dahlem on a one-play, first-quarter scoring drive to force a 6-6 tie. The junior rushed for 27 yards on his other 16 carries. He added 102 passing yards, completing 14 of 21 attempts with two interceptions.
“Their front four defensively are so good,” Junko said. “We’ve got to be able to score some points and stay in a game like that. Defensively we held up fairly well. We’ve got to be able to score.”
Littlejohn led Moon with 93 yards on 21 carries including touchdown runs of five and 18 yards. His first took a 6-0 lead and his second gave Moon a 13-6 advantage at halftime.
An interception and long return by Dawson Snyder set up Littlejohn’s second score.
The only second-half points came on Jeremiah Dean’s 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Dean also intercepted a pass.
Moon quarterback Dante Clay added 86 yards rushing. He missed last week’s win over Peters Township with an injury and his availability Friday wasn’t certain until he completed pregame warm-ups.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .