Running game propels Gateway past Mt. Lebanon

Saturday, August 25, 2018 | 12:09 AM

The Gateway offense picked up from where it left off during its dominant run to a WPIAL Class 5A title in 2017.

Derrick Davis kicked things off for the Gators with a 52-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the 2018 season, and the Class 5A No. 1 Gators toppled Mt. Lebanon, 31-8.

The Blue Devils are the No. 4-ranked team in Class 6A.

Gateway (1-0) racked up 317 yards rushing and Davis led the way with 20 carries for 181 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Brendan Majocha tallied 86 rushing yards on five carries, including a 40-yard scoring run of his own.

“I’ve said for a long time that the offense is built around who you want to feature and what the defense gives you. I know it sounds cliché but some teams will crowd the box and others, it makes sense to run it against them with what they give you,” Gateway coach Don Holl said.

“For us, I think we can play either one of those games. We have good enough guys in the backfield to run it against most teams, and I think we have enough guys on the perimeter to throw it with our quarterback.”

Majocha also fared well with his arm in his first varsity start. He completed 12 of his 17 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

Tight end Tui Brown caughta 4-yard touchdown pass from Majocha.

Majocha also hit Ethan Frenchik with a 37-yard hail mary pass as time expired in the first half to extend the Gators’ lead to 24-8.

Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Melnyk described the Gateway score in the waning moments of the second quarter as a game changer.

“I think we played well in spurts, but we gave up big plays,” Melnyk said. “Against a team like that, that’s going to happen sometimes. They had a few runs where we didn’t tackle real well, but then I thought we settled in.

“Obviously, the last play before the half really hurt. That ended up swinging the momentum. But I was proud of our kids, we only gave up one score in the second half. We tightened up, didn’t quit and played hard.”

Blue Devils’ quarterback Seth Morgan shouldered the bulk of his team’s offense, collecting 218 yards passing while completing 14 of 22 attempts. The senior also rushed for 59 yards and a score on 11 attempts.

However, Davis also made his impact felt on defense, as well as offense. The sophomore picked off one of Morgan’s pass attempts to help keep the momentum with Gateway.

“He’s got a gear that’s special. The film doesn’t lie, the evaluations of big-time colleges don’t lie. Pitt offered him midseason last year, and a whole bunch of big-time programs came right after with their offers,” Holl said.

“They know what they’re looking at. I’m just glad we got him on our team.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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