South Park football gets key conference victory over Keystone Oaks

Friday, September 13, 2019 | 10:47 PM

With the game deadlocked in the middle stages of the third quarter at Dormont Stadium, visiting South Park faced a fourth-and-1 from its 45-yard line.

Fifth-year coach Marty Rieck gambled, and it paid off.

Junior tailback Nate May got not only the needed yard but 54 more as he raced his way to the end zone, giving the Eagles the lead as South Park beat Keystone Oaks, 28-14, in a back-and-forth game.

“We had missed earlier in the game on fourth-and-1, so our offensive coaches were putting the onus on the kids, rightfully so, that if we got in that same situation we were going to get it,” Rieck said. “Obviously we loved the outcome. We didn’t have it drawn up to go that far, but that was the kids accepting the challenge.”

The Eagles (1-2, 1-1 Tri-County West) were outgained in the first half by Keystone Oaks, 215-56, yet the score was tied.

The scoring started in the first quarter, when Mark Hutchin scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Golden Eagles (3-1, 1-1) their first lead with 1 minute, 2 seconds left on the opening-quarter clock.

After that, according to sixth-year coach Greg Perry, it was a lot of missed opportunities and self-inflicted wounds that did in the home team.

“Every time we made a play, it seemed like we would look back and see yellow laundry on the field,” Perry said. “We had great field position a bunch, (but we had) at least one touchdown called back and probably over 300 yards of offense. When you have penalties, it kills you.”

South Park took advantage of an opportunity when Brandon Thomas tipped a pass at the line that ended up in the hands of Rudy Mihoces for an interception. It was a rare blemish for junior quarterback Logan Shrubb, who went 14-34 for 176 yards and the interception. He added 156 rushing yards and a score on 35 attempts.

“The pick wasn’t his fault,” Perry said. “Our offensive lineman gives up the protection, and the kid gets up and tips it.”

The Eagles scored on the first play after the pick. Mihoces, from the wildcat, got to the left edge and took it to pay dirt from 19 yards.

May’s touchdown gave the Eagles the lead in the third before Keystone Oaks answered, using a 46-yard connection from Shrubb to Sam Tortorella, who had eight receptions for 131 yards, to set up a touchdown run of 2 yards for Shrubb to tie the score.

South Park then scored twice in the fourth, scoring on a play-action fake and 48-yard pass from Stephen Kmonk to Seth Jones, which gave the visitors the lead for good.

“We’ve been pretty balanced,” said Rieck, whose quarterback finished 2 for 4 for 55 yards and one touchdown. “At that point, we felt we had the momentum. You’ve got to give these kids a chance to make the big play, and they did there.”

Mihoces added a 2-yard run with 4:55 to play to ice the game. Mihoces ended the night with 129 yards on 22 carries and two scores.

“Our line, when they put it together, I’ll put them up against everyone,” Rieck said. “We held our own defensively, but I love the fact how we’re playing downhill. I love that we’re getting better every week.”

It was an important win for South Park as it avoids an 0-2 record in the Tri-County West.

“We focused on who was in front of us because every game in this conference is a play-off game,” Rieck said. “Tonight I’m extremely proud of our coaches and our kids for executing and getting it done.”

South Park travels to Waynesburg Central next week, and Keystone Oaks will play at Central Valley. Both are section games and will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.

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