PC assaulted in the air
JOHNSTOWN?- Penn Cambria’s Jason Grassi admitted to being unable to sleep this week, as nervousness and excitement for his debut as Panthers head coach kept him up at night.
He’ll likely have a few more sleepless nights, thinking about the aerial attack he saw on display from Johnstown Friday night.
The Trojans racked up nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns through the air en route to a 28-7, opening-night victory over Penn Cambria at Trojan Stadium.
“We knew they had athletes and have a big-play offense and they hit on some huge plays in the passing game tonight. We did a really good job stopping the run but we just gave up too many big plays and gave up some big ones on fourth down,” Grassi said.
Leading the Johnstown attack was sophomore quarterback Jeremy Updyke. He connected on 9 of 15 passes for 186 yards and three scores. He also ran for one touchdown. Two of his passing touchdowns went to junior wideout Willie Robinson .
“I thought Jeremy was outstanding and played very poised for a sophomore. He has a lot of great weapons to get the ball to and our offensive line did a great job protecting him all night,” Johnstown head coach Tony Penna said.
The two scores to Robinson came after Penn Cambria had closed the gap to 14-7 midway through the third quarter, which put the game out of reach for the Panthers.
“Willie is a dynamic athlete and he is hard to catch. We were able to spread the defense out and get some one-on-one matchups for Willie and he took advantage,” Penna said.
Penn Cambria’s lone scoring drive came in the third quarter after a momentum spike from a controversial call. With the score 14-0 midway through the quarter, the Panthers appeared to recover a fumbled punt by Johnstown.
However, the referees ruled that return man Kevin Brandon was down by contact.
The call seemed to motivate the Panthers’ defense, which forced a three-and-out. After a big punt return by Jake Hurley, the Penn Cambria offense marched 34 yards on seven plays. Quarterback Chad Tsikalas punched one in from six yards out to get Penn Cambria back in the game.
“I never got a good explanation on the fumble call, but it did seem to motivate the guys. We put a little package in for backup quarterback Mark Mardula running the football and then Chad punched it in to finish off our best drive,” said Grassi.
The momentum was short-lived as just two offensive plays later, Robinson raced 58 yards on a sideline fade route for the first of his two scores.
“The kids fought hard and despite the result, it’s good to get that first one out of the way. I saw a lot of good things from our defensive line and I know we will improve and be ready to go next week,” Grassi said.
Penn Cambria hosts Bedford, which beat Bishop Guilfoyle in its opener, next Friday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria0 0 7 0 – 7
Greater Johnstown6 8 7 7 – 28
GJ – Updyke 1-yd run (kick failed) , 6:46
GJ – Andrews 20-yd pass from Updyke (Price pass from Updyke), 8:10
PC – Tsikalas 6-yd run (Shable kick), 2:14
GJ – Robinson 58-yd pass from Updyke (Litvin kick), 1:17
GJ – Robinson 22-yd pass from Updyke (Litvin kick), 7:07
RUSHING: Penn Cambria – Strasser 12-27, Tsikalas 7-28, Hurley 4-19, Mardula 4-8, Kost 3-7, Myers 1-2. Greater Johnstown – Te. Jones 12-45, Miller 6-10, Braxton 6 – -1, Updyke 4 – -2, Price 1-5.
PASSING: Penn Cambria – Tsikalas 8-15-2-100. Greater Johnstown – Updyke 9-15-0-186, Fisher 0-2-0-0
RECEIVING: Penn Cambria – Delerme 4-58, Hurley 3-19, Mardula 1-23. Greater Johnstown – Robinson 3-90, Andrews 3-38, Ta. Jones 1-43, Te. Jones 1-13, Brandon 1-2
INTERCEPTIONS: Penn Cambria – none. Greater Johnstown – Haidar, Ta. Jones
TEAM STATISTICS PCGJ
Pass (comp.-att.-int.)8-15-2 9-17-0
Total yards 191 243
Fumbles-lost 4-2 3-0
Penalties-yards 4-14 9-57
Punts-avg. 5-41.4 6-40.8