NORTHERN CAMBRIA This is not the start Northern Cambria football coach Paul Taranto was hoping for.
One week after dropping a 21-20 heartbreaker to reigning Heritage Conference champion Penns Manor, the Colts dropped a 34-13 loss to Homer-Center in a Heritage Conference game Friday night.
The Colts (0-2) can take comfort in knowing two of their toughest tests are behind them, Taranto said.
"We knew our first two games, Penns Manor and Homer-Center, [they're] probably a couple of the better teams in the Heritage," he said. "Nobody's a slouch this year, but we knew it would be a tough road off the bat.
"It's a worst-case scenario: 2-0's great, 1-1's decent, and 0-2's definitely not where we want to be. It's a long season."
It was generally a long night for the Colts in their home opener at Duffy Daugherty Field. After Northern Cambria stalled at the Homer-Center 45 and was forced to punt, the Wildcats (2-0) drove 72 yards and took a 7-0 lead on a 16-yard touchdown run by Ean Lee.
Lee tacked on his second touchdown, a 5-yard run, in the second period and the rout was about to be on. Mike Newhouse scored from 1 yard on the last play of the first half to put the Colts behind, 21-0.
Lee and Newhouse combined for 215 yards. Homer-Center totaled 303 yards for the night.
Homer-Center coach Greg Page downplayed the notion that his team so easily dominated from the ground.
"We didn't have the big plays like we did last week [against Saltsburg]," he said. "We had to chunk away at it."
Homer-Center wiped out whatever doubt might have remained on its first possession of the second half. Newhouse's 47-yard run through the teeth of the Colts defense on fourth-and-1 highlighted a seven-play, 65-yard drive that Newhouse finished with a 2-yard scoring run.
Jimmy Bence's 26-yard touchdown reception from Aaron Berezansky completed the scoring for Homer-Center.
Northern Cambria managed two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Derek Baker's 11-yard pass from Dartagnan Suchar and a 7-yard run by Nolan Paronish.
Suchar completed 6 of 15 passes for 68 yards. He also rushed 16 times for 61 yards. Paronish led the Colts with 79 rushing yards on 11 attempts. Joe Frontino added 55 yards on 7 carries. Northern Cambria totaled 266 yards.
"They're good and they're going to get better," Page said.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Homer-Center7 14 13 0 - 34
Northern Cambria0 0 0 13 - 13
HC-Lee 16 run (Lee kick), 6:58
HC-Lee 5 run (Lee kick), 4:44
HC-Newhouse 1 run (Lee kick)
HC-Newhouse 2 run (Lee kick), 8:28
HC-Bence 26 pass from Berezansky (run failed), 3:59
NC-Baker 11 pass from Suchar (Baker kick), 10:07
NC-Paronish, 7 run (kick failed)
RUSHING: Homer-Center-Newhouse 12-108, Lee 16-107, McAdoo 9-44, Coleman 1-6, Ireland 1-2, Berezansky 4-2, Cook 1-1, Sasala 1-0, Grillo 1-0. Northern Cambria-Paroniosh 11-79, Suchar 16-61, Frontiono 7-55, Baker 3-3
PASSING: Homer-Center-Berezansky 3-3-0, Team 0-2-0. Northern Cambria-Suchar 6-15-0.
RECEIVING: Homer-Center-Bence 1-26, Skultety 1-7, McAdoo 1-0. Northern Cambria-Olish 3-38, Frontino 1-17, Baker 1-11, Paroniosh 1-2.