WPIAL football team of the week: Week 1
Monday, September 2, 2019 | 8:14 PM
When Moon faces Mars, there are plenty of puns that could be used to describe this otherworldly match-up.
But Moon being named TribHSSN’s Week One Team of the Week is more about a Tigers tale then it is about an intergalactic contest.
Mars scored the game’s first 14 points before Moon scored the final 36.
“They were very excited. You could just see it in their faces,” Moon third-year coach Ryan Linn said. “It was our senior night, our first home game and to have a comeback victory gives you a lot of confidence and momentum.”
After a pair of Teddy Ruffner touchdown runs put Mars up 14-0, the Tigers closed to within six points by halftime on a safety and a touchdown.
“We stole the momentum right before the first half ended,” Linn said. “Logan Young blocked a punt for a safety, and on the ensuing possession ,we went down and scored a touchdown to make it 14-8 at the half.
“We then got the ball coming out of the half, (we) went down and scored again to take the lead 15-14. From there, our kids just executed the game plan to perfection.”
Senior running back Jamal Littlejohn had a pair of short scoring runs in the second half for Moon, which also received big plays on both sides of the ball from Dawson Snyder.
The junior receiver caught an 8-yard scoring pass from Dante Clay for the Tigers’ first touchdown in the second quarter. Then he intercepted a pass and returned it 88-yards in the third quarter.
“Dawson is our big-play guy on both sides of the ball,” Linn said. “He has a great feel for the game and always has knack of making a big play when we need it. The things that stood out to me where the two 50/50 balls he got to keep drives going and the pick-six that sealed the game for us.”
Senior quarterback Clay hit on 10 of 18 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown to go with a 25-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter that capped the victory.
“Dante has improved so much since last season,” Linn said. “A couple reasons why is it is his second year starting, which has helped calm him down. He is about 25 pounds heavier since last season, which allows us to use him in our run game more. Also his decision-making (has improved). He knows he has good protection, and he is taking what the defense gives him.”
The win improved Moon to 2-0 heading into another nonconference game Friday, this time on the road against Class 6A No. 1 Pine-Richland.
The good start is huge for this once-proud program that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years and last had a winning record in 2013.
In fact, the two wins this fall match the total of victories a year ago when the Tigers finished 2-8.
“Getting these two wins is huge,” Linn said. “It helps our kids build confidence in themselves and in each other. I also feel having all of these games up front gets our kids ready to play in our tough conference.
“Also, by us having to come back in those two games, it shows our kids we are never out of games and that we have the ability to come back and win.”
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