HERMITAGE – Rocco Iacino and Michael Henwood collaborated on 75- and 8-yard first-half scoring strikes and Iacino added a 40-yard, 3rd-period pick six, hoisting Hickory to a 41-21 season-opening Region 3 win over Grove City.
Rather than lamenting the shortened season, for Iacino, “every game is a one-week season, every game, it’s a rival. I think it’s pretty fun, to be honest with you,” the 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior standout said, adding in regard to Grove City, “They’re a great team, always well-coached. But, hey, my teammates, we just work hard.”
The game was not only a regular-season rivalry contest, but a rematch of last season’s District 10 tournament semifinals. Hickory snapped Grove City’s 23-game regular-season undefeated skein with a 21-19 victory last year at Hornet Stadium, but the Eagles enjoyed a measure of vindication with a 34-13 postseason statement. Coach Sam Mowrey’s program has advanced to four consecutive district championship games in 2 different enrollment classes.
However, at Hornet Stadium Friday night, Hickory harvested a 20-0 first-quarter lead and never was seriously challenged. The Hornets had a 27-7 halftime lead, then extended their edge over the Eagles to 41-14 through 3 periods.
During the first half, Henwood hit 13 of 18 pass attempts for 226 yards and 2 TDs and Clay Wiesen went for 7- and 35-yard scoring sprints en route to a game-high 108 yards on 17 carries.
The first Henwood-Iacino collaboration occurred on a 3rd-and-10 play. Henwood employed a pump fake to freeze the defense, then lofted a strike up the sideline to Iacino, who hauled in the pass over Gavin Lutz at the 15-yard line, then sprinted the rest of the way.
For Grove City, Logan Breese brokered a 23-yard, 3rd-period TD toss to a diving Zach Rodgers at the back of the end zone and Anthony Nemec and Curtis Hovis had 2-yard touchdown runs in the 2nd and 4th frames, respectively. But Breese twice was intercepted. After completing 8 of 9 pass attempts to commence the 2nd half – including 3 consecutive 10-yarders to Lutz – Breese’s bid for an Eagles’ comeback ended as he misfired on 7 of his final 9 throws. Additionally, Grove City was guilty of a handful of pre-snap penalties that set back several series.
Lutz led Grove City with a half-dozen receptions and Hovis had a team-high 73 yards rushing.
• Slippery Rock 27, Sharon 7 – At Slippery Rock, the Rockets opened the 2020 season with an impressive win over the Tigers.
Sharon drove 78 yards on 14 plays on the game’s opening possession and scored on a 4th-and-8 play when quarterback Brett Salsgiver threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Tyvell Richardson. Jake Auchter kicked the extra-point for a 7-0 lead.
Slippery Rock tied the game at 7-all with 7:31 left in the opening half on a 33-yard touchdown run by Shane Thompson and Alex Duffalo’s extra- point kick.
The Rockets went up 14-7 early in the 3rd quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass from William Mokel to Brendan Earl and Duffalo’s PAT. A key play on the drive was a 31-yard run by the Rockets’ Brett Galcik.
Slippery Rock increased its lead to 21-7 with only 53 seconds left in the 3rd quarter when Ryan Montgomery scored on a 1-yard run. Duffalo provided the PAT.
The Rockets closed it out with a 5-yard TD pass from Mokel to John Sabo with 3:32 left to play (PAT failed).
Mokel was 18-of-23 for 231 yards for the Rockets. Thompson led the team in rushing with 89 yards on 9 carries. Brett Galcik hauled in 2 passes for 87 yards.
For Sharon, Salsgiver went 8-of-23 for 90 yards with 1 interception. Jayden Robinson (9-46) and Salsgiver (13-42) were the team’s top rushers while Ja’on Phillips led the receiving corps with 6 catches for 69 yards.
• Mercer 46, Kennedy Catholic 6 – At Mercer, senior Aiden Bright had a night to remember as he scored 4 touchdowns to lead the Mustangs to the Region 1 win over the Golden Eagles. It was KC’s first varsity football game since 2013.
Mercer led 12-0 at the end of the 1st quarter and 34-0 at the break en route to the win.
Bright intercepted KC quarterback Nick Ondo on the Golden Eagles’ first play of the game and returned it 33 yards.
for a touchdown. Later in the 1st quarter, KC punted the ball and it bounced backwards into the end zone and Bright jumped on the ball for a score.
Mercer scored 22 points in the 2nd quarter on a TD passes from Ethan Wiley to Ryan Winner (18 yards) and Logan Turton (19 yards) and a 9-yard run by Bright.
In the 3rd quarter, the Mustangs went up 40-0 when Bright returned a punt 42 yards for a touchdown.
KC scored its first touchdown early in the 4th quarter as the Golden Eagles ran a hook and ladder play. Nick Ondo threw a short pass to Dajuan Young, who lateraled it to Sky’ler Thomas who ran 85 yards for a touchdown.
Mercer’s final score came on a 3-yard touchdown run by Nathan Haines.
KC had more offensive yards (260-216) than Mercer, but came up short on the scoreboard. Ondo threw for 200 yards and led the team in rushing with 7 carries for 44 yards. Thomas had 5 catches for 110 yards.
For Mercer, Bright and Turton both rushed for 60 yards. Wiley was 3-of-8 for 47 yards.
• Cambridge Springs 41, Lakeview 13 – At Stoneboro, Coach Bill Hickman’s Sailors dropped their Region 4 opener to the Blue Devils.
Cambridge Springs went up 6-0 in the opening quarter on a 14-yard TD pass from Trent Wheeler to Ayden Miller.
The Devils increased their lead to 20-0 before halftime on a pair of 5-yard touchdown runs by Miller and Wheeler’s extra-point kicks.
CS went up 26-0 early in the 3rd quarter on a 6-yard TD pass from Wheeler to Colton Smith and Wheeler’s PAT.
Lakeview cut the lead to 26-7 on a 5-yard scoring strike from Gavin Murdock to Hunter Miller and Mitchell Tingley’s kick.
The Blue Devils went up 34-7 late in the 3rd quarter on a 24-yard TD pass from Wheeler to Aidan Rauscher and Miller’s 2-point conversion run.
Both teams tacked on a touchdown in the 4th quarter. Rauscher scored on a 10-yard pass from Wheeler and Murdock reached the end zone on a 3-yard run for Lakeview.
Miller had 17 carries for 103 yards for Cambridge Springs. Wheeler went 9-of-14 for 105 yards. Rauscher had 4 catches for 47 yards.
For Lakeview, Murdock went 5-of-16 for 69 yards with 2 interceptions. Murdock also led the Sailors in rushing (8-36). Miller hauled in 4 catches for 57 yards.