Westmoreland football notebook: Latrobe gets much-needed win in opener

Saturday, August 24, 2019 | 7:44 PM

It had been nearly a decade since Latrobe opened the season with a win.

But the Wildcats made sure it was worth the wait Friday night, winning in thrilling fashion at a stadium where opposing victories have been hard to come by.

Senior quarterback Branden Crosby threw a 27-yard touchdown to junior Logan Gustafson on a screen pass for the winner in overtime, and the Wildcats edged rival Derry, 20-14.

It was Latrobe’s first season-opening win since 2011, when the Wildcats topped Derry, 21-0.

Derry, much-improved and a perennial contender since coach Tim Sweeney took over, had not lost at home in more than three years, a streak of 20 straight wins. Laurel beat the host Trojans, 40-0, on Sept. 25, 2015.

Since Latrobe last won on opening night before Friday, it had dropped three straight to Derry, was shut out twice by Norwin and suffered a pair of losses to Gateway, including a 61-6 setback in 2012.

After making the WPIAL playoffs last season for the first time since 2009, the Wildcats (1-0) are off to a strong start.

“It’s awesome, we really needed this win for our team and community,” Crosby said. “To go into overtime in your first game of the new season is really exciting, but I’m really impressed with how the younger guys who were in stayed calm and were able to help us pull out this win.”

Moving on

Hempfield enjoyed a one-sided victory against crosstown rival Greensburg Salem in the season opener, but the celebration was short.

Hempfield (1-0) hosts Class 6A No. 1 Pine-Richland (1-0) next Friday at Spartan Stadium, the site of a 40-3 win over Greensburg Salem.

Hempfield used a balanced attack to subdue the Golden Lions, racking up 424 yards (278 rushing) and limiting Salem to 70 yards.

Pine-Richland blanked defending PIAA Class 5A champion Penn Hills, 21-0.

“What I liked about this win is this team was focused before the game. there was no noise in the locker room,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “It’s a great group of kids. After the win, they just want to go about their business. But they know we have a big obstacle in front of us next week. We got to forget about this one and move on.”

Junior Mario Perkins ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Nathan Roby added 76 yards and a score, and junior Demetrius Murphy had 60 yards and pick-6 touchdown on defense.

Senior quarterback Blake Remaley threw for 160 yards and two scores, staying upright for much of the game behind a strong line.

Bowen knows a similar effort will be needed to stay in the game against the Rams in the conference opener.

“We know what we’re up against,” Bowen said. “Our kids are ready for the challenge.”

Colbert wins debut

It didn’t take new Greensburg Central Catholic coach Bret Colbert long to get his first win.

Senior Luke Mazowiecki intercepted two passes, and senior Brandon Brown pulled in two touchdowns from junior quarterback David Altimore, including a 61-yard bomb, in a 21-18 home win over Monessen.

“I’m just part of this,” Colbert said. “I just had fun, and I am out here having fun. Whether I am a head coach or an assistant, I am just out here with these guys having fun.”

Brotherly love

Jeannette had a brother-to-brother passing connection working in its season-opening win at East Allegheny.

First-year starting quarterback Jimmy Sanders, a junior, completed 12 of 20 passes for 186 yards, with senior running back Imani Sanders hauling in five for 110 yards in the Jayhawks’ 34-12 win.

Imani Sanders had two rushing touchdowns.

Ram tough

Ligonier Valley ran its Heritage Conference winning streak to 29 games with another runaway victory Friday. Not many teams have been able to touch the Rams in the District 6 league.

With a 67-0 win over Homer-Center, the Rams have scored 40 or more points in 29 of their last 41 games. They have rolled up 50 or more 14 times in that time.

Ligonier Valley had 555 yards of offense Friday.

Coming attractions

Gateway (1-0) at Penn-Trafford (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Warrior Stadium, Harrison City

The Foothills Conference battle between the No. 1 Gators and No. 3 Warriors is expected to be a thriller. Will it be a preview of the WPIAL Class 5A championship?

Pine-Richland (1-0) at Hempfield (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Hempfield

Can the Spartans, fresh off a thumping of rival Greensburg Salem, give the top-ranked Rams a game in the Class 6A conference opener?

Tweet of the day

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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