Top-ranked Penn-Trafford too much for Connellsville

Friday, September 6, 2019 | 10:33 PM

Entering Friday’s game against Penn-Trafford, the Connellsville football team knew it would be tangling with the top-ranked team in Class 5A. Connellsville didn’t come away with a win, but it certainly in a better performance compared to the lopsided loss against McKeesport last week.

But though the Falcons showed improvement, they weren’t a match for a superior Warriors team that rolled to a 41-7 victory in a Section 2-5A game at Connellsville Stadium.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m not happy with the result, but I am happy that we fought to the end against probably the best team in the state,” Connellsville coach Marko Thomas said. “We fought the whole game.”

Although the Falcons (1-2, 0-2) were ready to compete, they couldn’t contain the Warriors (3-0, 2-0) early in the game. Despite numerous penalties on both teams, it was Penn-Trafford that opened a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and took a 32-0 lead into the half.

Caleb Lisbon sparked the Penn-Trafford offense as he rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries, all in the first half. The Warriors also got things going in the passing game as Gabe Dunlap hit Ethan Carr on a 15-yard scoring strike in the first quarter to help Penn-Trafford grab a quick 7-0 lead.

“We wanted to work on our passing game a little bit,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “We feel that is a phase of our game that needs to get better.”

Lisbon scored on a 42-yard run midway through the first before the Warriors picked up a safety when Connellsville was called for holding in its own end zone.

The Falcons managed to stop a Penn-Trafford drive late in the first quarter when Jason McBride came up with an interception.

But in the second quarter, the Warriors tacked on three more scores. Nathan Schlessinger hit a 25-yard field goal before Lisbon scored on a 13-yard run. Dunlap rushed in from 3 yards to make it 32-0.

The Falcons thwarted Penn-Trafford early in the third when Seth Kuhns recovered a fumble, but Penn-Trafford managed two more scores to make it 41-0. The Warriors scored on another safety, this time on a snap that sailed out of the end zone. Dunlap also hit Nate Frye on a 10-yard scoring strike.

Connellsville’s lone score came on a trick play as Ky’ron Craggette rushed to the line, then tossed back to Ahmad Hooper, who found Gage Gillott open in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. The points were Connellsville’s first since its season opener against Uniontown.

Craggette led the Falcons with 100 rushing yards on 22 carries.

For Connellsville, the final score of the game was symbolic of the Falcons’ desire to not give up.

“I thought our tackling was a lot better, and they really got into the gameplan this week,” Thomas said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

While there will be plenty of teaching points for the Falcons, the same is true for the Warriors.

“Our tackling was good, and I thought we ran the ball, but it was a sloppy performance,” Ruane said. “We’ll definitely have good film tomorrow, and we need to be a lot better if we are going to be the team we want to be.”

Next week, Connellsville plays at Plum. Penn-Trafford hosts McKeesport.

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