VANDERGRIFT - Friday night turned out to be a rough learning experience for the young Altoona offense.
The Kiski Area Cavaliers' defense converted three Altoona turnovers into scores and held the Mountain Lions to 66 yards of offense en route to a 20-0 shutout at Davis Field.
Senior Joe Brungo picked off two Eli Mencer passes and scored a late touchdown to secure the WPIAL Foothills Conference victory at Davis Field.
"Our offense was as bad as it could be," Mountain Lions coach John Franco said. "We've got a lot of inexperience and a lot of youth with 11 new starters. It's still developing, still growing, and eventually it's going to kick in."
"Our defense won this game tonight," Kiski Area coach Dave Heavner said. "Their defense held our offense in check a little while. But when we needed a turnover, we got it. They had a fourth and 1, and we stopped them. Our defense definitely was the star tonight."
Kiski Area is 2-0 both in conference play overall, while Altoona dropped to 1-1, 1-1.
The Cavaliers now own a 3-1 lead in the all-time series.
In the first period, Cavaliers senior Brungo picked off a pass at the Mountain Lions 41 and returned the ball to the 20.
Altoona held, and major college placekicking prospect Adam Mitcheson booted a 33-yard field goal.
Kiski Area then recovered an Altoona fumble when James Roundtree's hit on Mencer led to a Shane Kuhn fumble recovery.
Seven plays later on the opening play of the second period, Mitcheson tallied on a 38-yard field goal to put the Cavaliers in front, 6-0.
On the third play of the second half, Brungo's second interception of the game at the Altoona 32 was returned to the 8.
"We focused on defense a lot at practice this week," Brungo said. "Altoona came in thinking they had the tough defense, but we had to come in here and prove ourselves."
On fourth down, Billy Johnson, who relieved starter Chad Kuhn for the series, burst over the goal line from inside the 1 for the game's first touchdown. On the extra point attempt, Mitcheson blasted the extra point kick over the Davis Field pavilion, left over from the days when the facility was a minor league professional baseball facility.
"They're a great football team," Franco said. "You can't afford to give them three turnovers and set up three scores for them."
Altoona never had the ball for more than eight plays on a drive. But the Mountain Lions defense also kept the game close for more than three quarters.
"It's a shame to waste a great defensive performance like that," Franco said. "They scored 53 points last week and we gave them opportunities in the first half, and they came away with only two field goals."
Kiski Area's longest possession was also eight plays - a fourth quarter drive that culminated with a 7-yard pass from Chad Kuhn to Brungo on a slant just over the goal line for the game's final score.
"I said all week, 'when you play Altoona, you know it's going to be a physical football game,'" Heavner said. "In the end, I think our will was the difference."
With Altoona down just 6-0, a key play occurred on fourth down at the Cavaliers 24. Roundtree and Shane Kuhn combined again to stop Kevin Givens for a third straight play, giving Kiski Area possession with 4:42 left in the half.
Score by quarters
Altoona0 0 0 0 - 0
Kiski Area3 3 7 7 - 20
KA-Mitcheso 33 field goal, 6:15.
KA-Mitcheson 38 field goal, 11:53.
KA-Johnson 1 run (Mitcheson kick), 8:34.
KA-Brungo 7 pass from Kuhn (Mitcheson kick).
Rushing: Altoona-Mencer 11-22, Givens 10-12, Wray 5-9, N. Scheinberg 1-2, Fink 1-0; Kiski Area-Clayton 11-51, Kuhn 12-36, Evans 7-27, Johnson 2-6, Brungo 1-5, Turner 3-(-1), Mitcheson 1-(-7).
Passing: Altoona-Mencer 4-16-2-16, Miller 1-4-0-5; Kiski Area-Kuhn 7-11-1-79.
Receiving: Altoona-Miller 2-14, Steave 1-6, Berardinelli 1-5, Givens 1-(-4); Kiski Area-Brungo 3-29, Kuhn 2-18, George 1-19, Evans 1-7, Turner 1-6.
First downs 8 10
Rushes-net yards 28-45 37-117
Passing (comp-att-int)5-20-2 7-11-1
Yards passing 21 79
Total yards 66 196
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-28 9-115
Punts-avg 5-21.3 3-43.0