Lions no match for Tigers
McKeesport – Altoona was not able to match McKeesport’s speed on both sides of the ball Friday night and lost, 34-7, at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium.
“Speed kills, and it killed us tonight. They’ve got more speed in every position than I’ve seen in awhile. We just couldn’t handle their speed,” Altoona coach John Franco said. “I’m not just talking about their skilled kids’ speed, their linemen were fast. That’s what really made the difference. We could not control them.”
Altoona (1-4) had no answer for McKeesport’s option attack. Quarterback David Queen led the Tigers (5-0) with 14 carries for 83 yards and three touchdowns. Fullback Mikell Moore had 12 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
“Their quarterback is an excellent option quarterback, but he’s set up nicely because the fullback [Moore] is a key guy,” Franco said. “Everything we did was focused on stopping the fullback.”
The Mountain Lions only had two first downs in the first half and gained only 2 positive yards of offense as the lost-yards play washed out almost the entire first half offensive production.
“We could have made things a little more interesting in the first half, but we couldn’t come up with the catch several times,” Franco said. “We can’t afford any dropped balls.”
After trailing by a touchdown or less at the half in the previous three games, Altoona gave McKeesport a short field three times in the first half and the Tigers scored on all three drives to take a 21-0 lead at the break.
On the Mountain Lions’ first possession, McKeesport forced a punt, but Joel Reighard never got the punt away. Khaleke Hudson blocked it, giving the Tigers a first down at the Lion 22-yard line. Mikell Moore banged 2 yards into the end zone to cap the drive, and McKeesport led 7-0.
“When they blocked that punt, that was the first punt we had blocked in I can’t count the number of years,” Franco said. “We had a guy out there to block, but he just wasn’t fast enough.”
McKeesport took advantage of Altoona poor special teams play again when Allen Wright returned a 34-yard punt from the back of the end zone to the Mountain Lion 8-yard line. On the next play, option quarterback Queen ran untouched into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown and the Tigers led 13-0 early in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, the Mountain Lion defense recovered a Moore fumble deep in Altoona’s territory to temporarily snuff out a Tiger red zone drive, but on the next play, Kevin Givens dropped a handoff and McKeesport recovered at the Altoona 10-yard line. Queen capped the drive once again with a 7-yard touchdown and McKeesport led 21-0 after Hudson scored the two-point conversion.
“We made too many mistakes in the first half. We fumbled some snaps and did some stuff we just havent done,” Franco said. “It was another frustrating night.”
McKeesport’s dominant running game took over in the third quarter and wore down Altoona’s defense. The Mountain Lions ran only three offensive plays in the third quarter.
Midway through the third quarter, the Tigers had their first scoring drive of more than 20 yards as Moore capped a 69-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give McKeesport a 27-0 lead.
Altoona broke the scoreboard on the ensuing kickoff as Christian Toohey sprinted 88 yards for the touchdown and the Mountain Lions trailed 27-7.
“[Toohey] is a sophomore. Last week was the first week he made the special teams,” Franco said. “He’s spunky, and he gave us a spark there.”
The Tigers responded with another sustained scoring drive and Queen scored its third touchdown, this one from 12 yards out to give the Tigers a 34-7 lead toward the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was scoreless.
“We just have to keep teaching, keep practicing and keep playing,” Franco said. “Our kids didn’t quit. That was one positive. We played till the end.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona0 0 7 0 – 7
Mckeesport7 14 13 0 – 34
M-Moore 2 run 6:30 (Smith kick)
M-Queen 8 run 10:01 (kick wide left)
M-Queen 7 run 4:15 (Hudson run)
M-Moore 7 run 6:46 (kick blocked)
A-Toohey kickoff return 6:33 (Metzgar kick)
M-Queen 12 run :29 (Smith kick)
RUSHING: Altoona-Miller 2-(-12), Weston 4-2, Mencer 6-(-1), Givens 5-19. McKeesport-Queen 14-83, Smith 5-18, Moore 12-108, Wright 1-4, K. Hudson 4-20, C. Hudson 5-39, Gilmore 2-10, Reece 2-6, Walton 1-19.
PASSING: Altoona-Miller 1-3-0-8, Mencer 2-5-0-13, McKeesport-Queen 0-3-0-0.
RECEIVING: Altoona-Mencer 1-8, Steave 1-9, Miller 1-4. McKeesport-None.