By Brian Hunger
For the Mirror
GREENSBURG - A lot of questions were surrounding the Hollidaysburg Area High School football team entering its contest against Greensburg Salem on Friday night.
They got answered quickly -and in a big way.
The Golden Tigers (1-1, 1-1) bounced back from last week's loss to Highlands in a commanding way, defeating the host Lions, 36-6, in a WPIAL Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference game at Offutt Field.
Hollidaysburg used a relentless no-huddle attack and a solid ground effort to keep Greensburg Salem (1-1, 1-1) off-guard most of the night.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Golden Tigers offense exploded in the second quarter.
Hollidaysburg first struck with a 17-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Ryan Waltz from quarterback Josh Bickley.
After the Lions responded with an 11-yard scoring run by Simeon Stevens, the Golden Tigers struck big on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff.
It was Waltz again, this time coming on an acrobatic, one-handed 62-yard strike from Bickley.
It was the closest the Lions came.
"We were confident coming in to the game," first-year Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said. "We knew after last week there were a lot of things we needed to do better - execution, fundamentals, tackling. We made a big improvement from seven days ago."
The Lions, despite the lopsided final score, had their chances. Greensburg Salem's first three possessions to start the second half were all inside Hollidaysburg territory - set up by long kickoff returns. They ended with two punts and a turnover on downs.
"We had three opportunities, and you have to take advantage of having good field position and we weren't able to do it," Lions coach Dave Keefer said. "Our kids know that but weren't able to get it done tonight. It wasn't a poor effort, but we just didn't execute. We had three chances there, and we have to be able to finish drives to beat a team like Hollidaysburg."
The Golden Tigers, on the other hand, continued to finish drives.
At the 8:57 mark of the third quarter, Bickley broke free on a quarterback run for a 57-yard score. The next drive Greensburg Salem had a touchdown pass called back due illegal touching.
Hollidaysburg struck again to start the final quarter on a 3-yard run by Colton Ruggery and minutes later added an 11-yard scoring run by Reid Miller. Miller finished the game with 27 carries for 127 yards and also had a key interception in the second half. Bickley finished 4 of 6 for 116 passing yards.
"They both keep improving," DeLattre said. "They got a lot of touches tonight and helped us to really push the tempo of the game. They let us really fire away on the ground and had a very big night. It was a great team effort against a very solid opponent."
Greensburg Salem was led offensively by running back Dom McKinley, who finished with 23 carries for 136 yards.
"I compliment [Hollidaysburg]," said Keefer. "They came in with a good plan to spread the football around and throwing around a lot. We prepared for it but didn't execute. They really took advantage of opportunities, and we didn't. Last week we were able to do so. We have to learn from this and bounce back quickly for next week."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg0 14 7 15 - 36
Greensburg Salem0 6 0 0 - 6
H-Waltz 17 pass from Bickley (E. Miller kick), 5:08.
GS-Stevens 11 run (kick failed), 1:39.
H Waltz 62 pass from Bickley (E. Miller kick good) 14-6, (1:25).
H-Bickley 57 run (E. Miller kick), 7:57.
H-Ruggery 3 yard run (E. Miller kick), 10:17.
H-R. Miller 11 run (Holtz run), 6:32.
RUSHING: Hollidaysburg-R. Miller 27-127, Ruggery 8-61, Parnell 1-25, Hilling 1-1, Bickley 3-76, Kelly 1-1, Augustine 2-40, Kovach 2-6. Greensburg Salem-McKinley 23-136, Zepeda 6-31, Stevens 1-11.
PASSING: Hollidaysburg-Bickley 4-6-0-116. Greensburg Salem-Indolf 4-16-1-25.
RECEIVING: Hollidaysburg-Waltz 3-91, Ruggery 1-25. Greensburg Salem-Mathias 1-10, McKinley 2-7, Stevens 1-8.
INTERCEPTIONS: Hollidaysburg-R. Miller.