HOLLIDAYSBURG - On a Friday night when a steady rain could have dampened the spirits of the homecoming crowd at Hollidaysburg's Tiger Stadium, the play of the Golden Tigers certainly did just that, losing, 54-7, to Franklin Regional in a Greater Allegheny Conference matchup.
The Tigers (3-4) came into the game on the heels of a road victory and felt they could compete against a Franklin Regional (6-1) team that had lost 19 starters to graduation.
"I really thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for us, but our kids continue to amaze me and I told them that after the game," Panthers coach Greg Botta said.
Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre tried to remain upbeat after talking to his team in the shadow of the south end zone.
"It's tough to explain. It's a disappointment, and disappointments happen; they happen in life. They happen in football games, but I think our kids are strong enough to overcome this," said DeLattre, whose team has two games left. "I think we will get better after this."
Hollidaysburg got off to a rough start. A holding penalty on its first play of the game put the ball back at the Tigers' 7. From there, the ball was snapped past quarterback Josh Bickley and out of the end zone for a safety. The Panthers received the free kick and needed just four plays to score, thanks to a 20-yard touchdown pass from Charan Singh to Jordan Kestler. And like that, at the 10:18 mark, it was 9-0.
"I thought this would be a game where it was 0-0 after the first quarter, but this was a game of momentum. We got it early," Botta said. "I think if we played them again, it would be a better game."
While Hollidaysburg was totaling negative-17 yards of offense in the first quarter, the Panthers scored two more touchdowns. Singh hit Colin Jonov with a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 2:47 mark, and then Singh, who rushed for 105 yards on 13 carries, scored on a 48-yard run right before the first quarter ended for a 23-0 lead.
Singh was one of 11 Panthers who carried the ball for positive yardage. The team totaled 377 yards on 59 carries.
"They are a great football team. They have one of the great programs in District 7. We talked all week about what it takes to get to their level, and I hope our guys understand that and I think they are going to get there," DeLattre said.
Trailing 30-0, Hollidaysburg finally got on the board when it drove 65 yards in five plays, scoring on a nifty 16-yard run by Reid Miller at the 1:59 mark. Quarterback Caleb Parnell replaced starter Josh Bickley in the first half and helped out on the drive with runs of 29 and 3 yards.
"We have done that all year," DeLattre said of using two quarterbacks. "Things weren't going so well, so let's try something different and see if we can get a spark."
The Panthers got a 22-yard field goal from Jake Roberge as time expired, ending the first half with the Tigers down, 33-7. Any chance of a major collapse by Franklin Regional ended when it scored on its opening drive of the second half, going 50 yards on four plays, scoring on a 29-yard run by Casey Colagrande.
An example of the kind of night it was for Hollidaysburg was when Parnell hit Colton Ruggery in the third quarter with a screen pass that would have been a 51-yard touchdown. However, an illegal block was called at the 10-yard line as Ruggery ran into the end zone.
The play came back to the 20, and even though the Tigers were still inside the red zone, they were stopped at the 14-yard line on fourth down.
"I thought our kid was in front," DeLattre said of the illegal block call on one of his players. "Then they had two fumbles where the ball bounces right back up in their gut. You realize it's just not your night."
Game notes: Because of injuries, Franklin Regional now starts three sophomores on its offensive line. ... The Panthers scored twice in the fourth quarter as both teams put their reserves into the game. ... The Tigers got their initial first down of the game midway through the second quarter. ... Hollidaysburg is at Mars next Friday night. The Planets are 7-1. ... Madalyn Martinsen was crowned homecoming queen for Hollidaysburg.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Franklin Regional23 10 7 14 - 54
Hollidaysburg 0 7 0 0 - 7
FR-Safety, Hollidaysburg snapped ball out of end zone, 11:41
FR-Kestler 20 pass from Singh (Roberge kick), 10:18
FR-Jonov 29 pass from Singh (Roberge kick), 2:47
FR-Singh 48 run (Roberge kick), :29
FR-Zanotta 21 run (Roberge kick), 3:16
H-R. Miller 16 run (E. Miller kick), 1:59
FR-Roberge 22 FG, :00
FR-Colagrande 29 run (Roberge kick), 10:17
FR-Brncic 31 run (Roberge kick), 9:13
FR-Riga 5 run (Roberge kick), 1:02
RUSHING: Franklin Regional-Singh 13-105, Emanuele 13-40, Kestler 1-19, Zanotta 6-29, Slezek 2-3, Giannangeli 9-55, Colagrande 2-40, White 1-5, Moore 4-10, Giacchino 2-(-6), Brncic 1-31, Riga 5-30. Hollidaysburg-Bickley 4-(-11), R. Miller 4-24, Dinges 3-16, Parnell 7-57, Hilling 1-(-1), Crawford 1-5, Augustine 1-2, TEAM 1-(-7).
PASSING: Franklin Regional-Singh 5-12-0-97, Giacchino 1-1-0-1. Hollidaysburg-Parnell 4-17-1-34, Bickley 0-7-0-0.
RECEIVING: Franklin Regional-Colagrande 1-35, Kestler 3-33, Jonov 1-29, Slezek 1-1. Hollidaysburg-Ruggery 2-31, R. Miller 1-10, Aungst 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS: Franklin Regional-Riga.