Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown against Richland on Friday night at Mansion Park.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there as Richland, one of the state's top-ranked Class AA teams, scored the next 43 points en route to a 43-14 romp over the Class A Marauders in a Laurel Highlands Conference matchup.
"They're No. 3 in the state for a reason," BG coach Justin Wheeler said. "They bring back a lot of guys - 25 seniors - and they're an incredible team with weapons everywhere.
"We knew we'd have to play perfect on defense and limit our mistakes on offense," he said.
They didn't, however. The Marauders' offense lost three turnovers and the defense couldn't stop the Rams.
"We're fortunate," Richland coach Brandon Bailey said. "We have a lot of kids that have been in a lot of big games and we just try to get the ball in their hands and let them make plays."
The Rams' skill people are just that - skilled. The Richland offense piled up 501 yards - 301 on the ground and 200 through the air.
Quarterback Matt Shaffer, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, was the ringleader. Shaffer completed 12-of-20 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries and ran for a pair of TDs. Tailback Tanner Solarczyk ran for 153 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.
"I played the position [quarterback] myself and I have a lot of expectations for our guys," Bailey said. "It's tough to play quarterback at Richland because of those expectations but Matt Shaffer embraces that and hopefully will lead the team to another championship."
Bailey also spoke highly of Solarczyk.
"Most teams we play have a tough time tackling Tanner," Bailey said. "He's 210 pounds and is strong and fast. He's outstanding and is a tough matchup for most teams, especially when they have to defend the pass as well was we throw the ball."
Richland opened the game with an onsides kick - "we thought we had it, but we didn't" - Bailey said. "They made some plays and held onto the ball [and eventually scored]."
BG recovered the opening kick at its own 40 and a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave the Marauders a first down at the Richland 42. Brandon Chadbourn, who was expected to be the BG quarterback before suffering a hand injury in the preseason, opened at fullback and capped a 12-play drive with a 2-yard plunge for the TD at the 7:04 mark. Chadbourn gained 22 yards in the drive and Damon Rickens' 9-yard pass to Matt Gormley gave BG a first down at the 14. Sam McCloskey gained 10 and Chadbourn scored two plays later.
Richland answered quickly, though, moving 88 yards behind the passing of Shaffer and the running of Solarczyk. Shaffer scored on a 4-yard run and his 2-point pass to Nico Pecora gave the Rams an 8-7 edge.
"We got the lead and just went on from there," Bailey noted.
Guilfoyle, which lost its opener at Bedford, travels to Cambria Heights next Friday in search of its first win.
"We just shooting ourselves in the foot," Wheeler said. "Richland is a very good football team and we felt like we went toe-to-toe with them for the better part of the first half.
"Mistakes got us again a little bit," he said. "I thought we played better than last week but we've got to be better."
Wheeler said he hopes Brandon Chadbourn will be able to return to quarterback which means Rickens will return to wide receiver and McCloskey, who, like Rickens, played some quarterback last night, will be at running back.
"I'm hoping this week," Wheeler said of Chadbourn. "He's a tough kid. He'll be OK."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Richland8 14 14 7 - 43
Bishop Guilfoyle7 0 0 7 - 14
BG-B. Chadbourn 2 run (Verba kick), 7:04.
R-Shaffer 4 run (Flick pass from Shaffer), 1:39.
R-Flick recovered fumble in end zone (Gindlesberger kick),10:33.
R-Hanley 16 pass from Shaffer (Gindlesberger kick), 4:54.
R-Solarczyk 10 run (Gindlesberger kick), 8:00.
R-Shaffer 14 run (Gindlesberger kick), 3:53.
R-Farina 68 run (Gindlesberger kick), 4:07.
BG-E. Chadbourn 7 run (Verba kick), :30.
RUSHING: Richland-Solarczyk 15-153, Farina 1-68, Shaffer 10-60, Flick 1-14, Somiani 1-4, Naglic 1-4, Pecora 1-2, Leventry 1-(-2), Snopko 1-(-2). Bishop Guilfoyle-E. Chadbourn 5-53, McCloskey 12-30, B. Chadbourn 10-18, Yasulitis 4-13, Kitt 6-11, Little 1-4, Rickens 1-(-4).
PASSING: Richland-Shaffer 12-20-1-168, Pecora 1-1-0-32. Bishop Guilfoyle-Rickens 5-12-1-35, McCloskey 1-2-0-11.
RECEIVING: Richland-Pecora 3-41, Joy 2-64, Flick 2-52, Warshel 2-7, Hanley 1-16, Solarczyk 1-15, Lynch 1-5, Farina 1-0. Bishop Guilfoyle-Gormley 3-19, Kitt 1-9, McCloskey 1-11, Verba 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS: Richland-Flick. Bishop Guilfoyle-Rickens.
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 13-21-1 6-14-1