GREENSBURG - One year ago, Altoona scored a 17-14 victory over Hempfield at Mansion Park, and the win started a surge that led it to a spot in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
The Mountain Lions were looking for similar success Friday evening as they made the 90-minute trip east to the home of the Spartans.
But when the dust settled at Spartan Stadium, homestanding Hempfield was on the winning end of a 37-14 result.
The loss dropped Altoona to 1-5 overall and in Quad East Conference play.
The Spartans bounced back from a last-minute loss to Gateway last week and improved to 4-2 overall and in conference play.
Altoona trailed only 10-7 at halftime but was outscored, 21-7, in the third quarter as Hempfield pulled away.
"We made some solid plays in the first half and got a few turnovers, and I thought we were ready to go in the second half," Altoona head coach John Franco said.
"I was disappointed with the way we played in the second half. Us not playing well in the second half is on me. It's my fault."
Hempfield got a 1-yard touchdown run from Joey DeFloria at 8:11 of the third quarter.
After a quick Altoona three-and-out, the Spartans added to their lead with a 36-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Ty George to wideout Dante Luther. The extra point made it 24-7.
The Mountain Lions responded by going 80 yards in five plays in 1:36. Kevin Givens capped the drive by rambling 30 yards for the touchdown.
Givens led the Altoona running game with 66 yards on eight carries. The Mountain Lions finished with 72 yards rushing and 140 total yards.
A George 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter made it 31-14.
The Spartans tacked on field goals of 42 and 23 yards from John Domit in the fourth quarter, and he added a 45-yard boot with 44 seconds left in the first half to give Hempfield the lead at the break.
DeFloria finished with 167 yards rushing on 24 carries, and he now has 964 rushing yards through six games.
George added 101 yards on 16 carries, and he completed 13 of 16 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
He connected with Luther on a 30-yard touchdown strike to open the scoring early in the second quarter.
"They took the run away from us early," Hempfield head coach Rich Bowen said.
"They were loading the box and we had to throw the ball. I was really pleased with our passing game. Ty threw the ball well, and Dante made some great plays. We developed some other weapons tonight. When they went out to cover our passes, that opened things for Joey."
As a team, Hempfield compiled 334 yards rushing and 515 yards overall.
The Spartans collected 23 first downs.
"We knew that George was really good, but we couldn't contain him," Franco said.
"That was our focus all week. He kept making big plays. We had no answer for George and DeFloria. They are two of the best players we will see all year."
Two Hempfield first-half drives ended in turnovers, as fumbles deep in Altoona territory kept the Spartans off the board.
George coughed up the ball at the Altoona 12 after a 20-yard run on Hempfield's opening possession.
The Spartans drove down inside the Altoona 5 with about five minutes left in until halftime, but a fumble at the 2 and Mountain Lions recovery kept Hempfield out of the end zone.
Altoona answered the Spartans' first score with one of its own with 6:51 to play in the second quarter, as Eli Mencer scored from five yards out to cap a six-play, 74-yard drive.
The big play on the drive was an acrobatic 36-yard catch from Sean Steave at the Hempfield 27. Steave tipped the ball as he was falling backwards and pulled it in for the reception.
A roughing-the-passer penalty on the play moved the ball half the distance to the goal at the 13.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona0 7 7 0 - 14
Hempfield0 10 21 6 - 37
H-Luther 30 pass from George (Domit kick), 9:37.
A-Mencer 5 run (Metzgar kick), 6:51.
H-Domit 45 FG, :44.
H-DeFloria 1 run (Domit kick), 8:11.
H-Luther 36 pass from George (Domit kick), 6:55.
A-Givens 30 run (Metzgar kick), 5:19.
H-George 10 run (Domit kick), 3:21.
H-Domit 42 FG, 9:44.
H-Domit 23 FG, 4:42.
RUSHING: Altoona-Givens 8-66, Mencer 16-34, Devin Miller 5-(-16), Zac McConnell 1-1, Caleb Weston 1-(-1), Team 1-(-12). Hempfield-DeFloria 24-167, George 16-101, Daniel Walters 5-46, Lorenzo Barchetti 6-23, Don Washington 2-7.
PASSING: Altoona-Miller 6-13-0-68. Hempfield-George 13-16-0-181.
RECEIVING: Altoona-Sean Steave 3-56, Jaret Berardinelli 1-8, Colby Fink 1-4, Givens 1-0 . Hempfield-Luther 4-98, DeFloria 5-43, Joey Hoffner 3-31, Louden Richason 1-9.
INTERCEPTIONS: Altoona-none. Hempfield-none.