Plum keeps rolling, upends No. 2 Mars

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Friday, September 25, 2020 | 10:47 PM


Plum averaged 42 points in Greater Allegheny Conference victories over Greensburg Salem and Indiana.

The Mustangs kept rolling Friday with seven more touchdowns in a 49-21 victory over Mars in a conference clash of undefeated teams at the Mars Athletic Complex.

“We talked all week about the hype surrounding Mars in our conference,” Plum coach Matt Morgan said.

“Don’t get me wrong, they are always a great, solid team. I compare them to a Franklin Regional in our old conference. They are always consistent, tough and physical, and they want to pound the football. We had to have the mindset this week that we’re here. We wanted to show that to the entire WPIAL. We’re here to play football. They’ve proved play in and play out that they belong with the best in (Class) 4A.”

Plum is 3-0 for the first time since 2015. Mars, No. 2 this week in the Triblive HSSN WPIAL Class 4A rankings, fell to 2-1 overall and in conference. This was the teams’ first meeting since 2009.

The Mustangs scored on all three drives in the first half and added a pair of touchdowns on their first two possessions of the third quarter.

Plum punted on its sixth possession, but it came back with a score on its seventh to add an exclamation mark to the victory.

“Plum is a good football team, no questions about it,” said veteran Mars coach Scott Heinauer, who picked up his 200th career victory last week against Highlands.

“They did a nice job.”

Plum got contributions from all areas.

The 1-2 running punch of Billy Guzzi and Eryck Moore combined for 223 yards. Guzzi led the Mustangs with 117 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and Moore added 106 yards and a score on 12 attempts.

Ryan Hubner threw touchdown passes of 7 and 10 yards to Reed Martin and a 20-yard scoring toss to Max Matolcsy. Hubner added 79 yards on five carries and scored on a 31-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Preston Sunday’s 3-yard run in the first quarter got Plum on the board.

“(Mars) was ranked above us, and we just wanted to come in and show them what we’ve got,” Martin said. “We’re not slowing down from here.”

The Plum defense forced three turnovers, including a key fumble recovery in its own territory with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left until halftime.

Mars, trailing 14-13, had driven to the Plum 21, but a fumble on a backward pass on third down was recovered by the Mustangs.

Plum then went 71 yards in nine plays and capped the drive when Hubner found Martin in the front left corner of the end zone with 23 seconds left in the second quarter.

“That mistake really haunted us,” Heinauer said. “That was a big factor.”

The Martin point-after put the Mustangs ahead 21-13.

Taking the second-half kickoff, it took Plum just 50 seconds to extend its lead as Hubner connected with Matolcsy.

“There is always someone stepping up,” Morgan said. “This is such an unselfish group. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about these kids and how much they want to fight for each other. ”

Mars senior running back Teddy Ruffner, who was named homecoming king during a pregame ceremony, finished with 186 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. He scored on runs of 1, 2 and 4 yards.

Ruffner has 534 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in three games.

“He’s an amazing runner, and we knew it was going to be a challenge,” Morgan said “He got his yards. They were in chunks, but he didn’t get that long run that really hurt us.”

Mars will attempt to rebound Friday at Armstrong.

“We’ll live to fight another day,” Heinauer said. “We know what we have to do. I told the kids we have to win the rest and go from there. We have four more games. We just have to stay healthy and focus on next week.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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