HOLLIDAYSBURG - Football is played in four quarters - two halves - and on Friday night, the Hollidaysburg Golden Tigers could only get it half right against the Hampton Talbots on homecoming.
The Tigers committed two turnovers in the first half that led to 14 points, and the Talbots' offense used two eight-play drives on two other possessions to build a 28-0 halftime lead, en route to a 28-14 Greater Allegheny Conference victory that dropped Hollidaysburg to 3-3 overall, 3-2 in the league.
"They were a physical team and I knew that going in, but I fully expected us to be able to compete with them and beat them as long as we didn't make mistakes," Hollidaysburg coach John Barton said. "I am proud of the way our kids responded in the second half. We dug ourselves a hole and least we came back out slugging."
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Hollidaysburg’s Brian Urban takes down Ben Foreman.
Hampton (5-1, GAC 4-1) had the ball three times on offense in the third quarter, and twice was forced to punt. It lost the ball on downs on another possession. The Talbots had the ball for just six plays in the fourth quarter, punting once. But coach Jacque DeMatteo didn't think his club took their foot off the pedal.
"No, but definitely we made some mistakes that hurt us," he said. "I would have liked to have another score and get a running clock, but I am happy for our kids. We fought the whole game."
Because of a fumble and an interception by the Tigers in the first quarter, Hampton had two short fields to work with. A two-play, 5-yard drive resulted in an Anthony Bianco 4-yard scoring run. A two-play, 10-yard drive was followed by an 8-yard Bianco run for a 14-0 lead.
"Some times you will see teams get a turnover and they don't do anything with it, but our kids made some plays. That interception .... our kid returned it down to their 5," DeMatteo said. "Our defense has been consistent all year."
Hampton's two touchdown drives in the second quarter went for 63 and 83 yards, respectively, for a 28-0 advantage. Frank Bello scored on a 4-yard run, but the killer came with 8 seconds before halftime. That was when Bianco simply ran off tackle on a third-and-7 play that went for a 68-yard touchdown.
"That was huge," Barton said. "Their kids are good and you have to play good, fundamental football against them. I have to see the tape, but it is obvious that someone didn't fill the gap on that play."
The Tigers had the ball three times in the third quarter, punting twice while having another ball picked off at the 6:45 mark. The defense kept hanging in there, getting the ball back, and a score finally developed on a 13-play, 64-yard drive that started at the end of the third, and wound up in the end zone at the at the 8:43 mark.
A Brian Urban 1-yard run, and Eric Miller PAT kick, made it 28-7. The Tigers made it 28-14 with a touchdown at the 1:03 mark, thanks to Reid Miller taking it in from three yards out.
Barton said defensive adjustments were made at halftime, but he also felt his team took it upon themselves to simply play better in the final 24 minutes.
"A lot of it, really, was our kids realizing that the first half...that was not reflective of how they can really play," he said. "They showed a lot of character in that second half.
Game notes: Both teams finished with 237 yards of offense. ... Tiger tight end Kaleb Springer injured his knee on an ugly play where he was dragged down from behind after a 14-yard reception for a first down. He was helped off the field, and had his knee wrapped at the end of the game. ... Hampton had two turnovers but the Tigers did not turn them into any points. Bianco rushed for 103 yards but only four of them came in the second half. ... Hannah Mercer was named homecoming queen. ... Hollidaysburg is at Franklin Regional next week.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hampton14 14 0 0 - 28
Hollidaysburg0 0 0 14 - 14
HA-Bianco 4 run (Nigro kick), 1:33
HA-Bianco 8 run (Nigro kick), :34
HA-Bello 4 run (Nigro kick), 5:59
HA-Bianco 68 run (Nigro kick), :08
H-Urban 1 run, (E. Miller kick), 8:43
H-R. Miller 3 run (E. Miller kick), 1:03
RUSHING: Hampton-Bianco 13-104, Nigro 2-4, Bello 7-21, Foreman 3-19, Arch 1-(-5). Hollidaysburg-Urban 14-26, R. Miller 17-54, Dinges 9-50, Brunner 5-9, Hargis 3-2.
PASSING: Hampton-Nigro 7-14-0-94. Hollidaysburg-Springer 4-36, Davis 3-32, R. Miller 1-16, Hargis 2-13.
RECEIVING: Hampton-Bello 1-19, Floss 2-37, Luther 2-25, Edwards 2-13. Hollidaysburg-Springer 4-36, Davis 3-32, R. Miller 1-16, Hargis 2-13.
INTERCEPTIONS: Hampton-Floss, Bello.