South Fayette’s Naman Alemada strong-arms Knoch

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 10:51 PM

If there were any doubts about which team belonged in first place in the Northwest Eight Conference, Naman Alemada and No. 2 South Fayette put them to bed as quickly as possible against No. 5 Knoch.

Alemada, a 6-foot-5 junior, threw for 398 yards and six scores to lift the Lions (6-1, 5-0) into sole possession of first place with a dominant 42-7 victory Friday night.

His passing performance ranks third-best all-time in school history behind Brett Brumbaugh (463 in 2013) and Drew Saxton (435 in 2015) at a school that has seen its share of great quarterback play.

“Offensively, we know no one can stop us,” Alemada said. “Man for man, I’m running the most talented offense in the WPIAL. So we just have to make the most of our opportunities. There were still bad reads, bad balls. We have a lot to work on. But I feel like morale is high. We feel good right now.”

One of the WPIAL’s top offenses was feeling good early and often, scoring two touchdowns on its first three snaps. Alemada hit Ryan McGuire with a 56-yard fade on the second play of the game to start the scoring.

After a botched toss by the Knights set up the Lions on the Knoch 22-yard line the very next drive, the same play call yielded the same result against the same man coverage from Knoch. McGuire finished with 6 receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

“When you’re playing zero coverage, someone’s got to win,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “I think we have some speedy kids, small kids, kids making plays. It’s a nice combination of athletes.”

McGuire came back on defense on the next possession with another big play, snuffing out a crucial fourth-and-2 deep in South Fayette territory with a pass defense on wideout Jared Schrecengost.

Knoch wouldn’t threaten again. Luke Pschirer and Charley Rossi hauled in touchdown passes from Alemada before halftime and the rout was on. Rossi got involved defensively, picking off a Kam Grassi pass and nearly returning it for a touchdown were it not for a clipping penalty. He finished with four receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

Though Knoch was able to match South Fayette up front — the Lions mustered minus-2 yards rushing in the first half — the Lions’ speed in open space was simply too much on both sides of the ball and helped limit Knoch running back Matt Goodlin to 24 yards on 11 attempts. Goodlin came into the game leading Class 4A and was third in the WPIAL with 921 yards on the ground.

“We wanted to make sure Goodlin couldn’t beat us and tackle the dive,” Rossi said. “I thought our guys did a good job of that and not letting him get moving”

The lack of possession time went against Knoch’s typical gameplan of a dynamic rushing attack that could’ve potentially kept the Lions’ big-play offense on the sidelines. It never materialized.

“We knew coming in they like to hold the ball and run the clock,” Alemada said. “We thought if we got the ball, we have to score quickly and put them in a bad position. They tried to play man with our guys. I know all four of our guys were open every single play. It was just clicking today at the beginning.”

Knoch coach Brandon Mowry thought it was simply a matter of execution and lack of consistency.

“I think our kids matched up well,” Mowry said. “You saw it in spurts. We just have to be more consistent. We came out flat for whatever reason. Defensively, they abandoned the run because we shut it down. We just didn’t get enough pressure on him.”

Despite the loss, Knoch still controls its destiny for the WPIAL playoffs and is likely to bump into the defending champion Lions again if it is to make a run.

“We have to move forward with the positives, build on the negatives and make corrections,” Mowry said. “Get ready to go for New Castle next week. We’ll be ready to go.”

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