Altoona can’t hold 14-0 lead
It was another frustrating Friday for the Altoona Mountain Lions, and this time it came on homecoming night.
After building a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, the Lions’ offense fizzled again and Latrobe rallied to pull out a 20-14 win in a WPIAL Foothills Conference game at Mansion Park.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Lions after a season-opening win at Norwin. Latrobe improved to 2-5 overall with its first Foothills win of the season.
The Lions recovered four Latrobe fumbles but converted only one into a score – a 25-yard return by standout junior linebacker Kevin Givens at the 11:02 mark of the second quarter.
“That gives us a plus-5 on turnovers,” Altoona coach John Franco said. “That’s unheard of – we should have a winning record with that. Penalty-wise, we’ve been good, too.
“We’re doing things that we should be winning,” he noted. “But, the problem still comes from our offense. We are not blocking anybody and we aren’t making plays.”
The Lions’ lead went to 14-0, thanks to Eli Mencer’s 28-yard TD dash and James Metzgar’s second PAT at 6:14 of the second quarter.
Metzgar attempted a 45-yard field goal on the last play of the half that was short and wide right.
Altoona’s offense didn’t do much the second half, and Latrobe rallied behind the sterling play of quarterback Logan Carns, who rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries and completed 16-of-28 passes for 184 yards.
Carns’ 1-yard sneak cut the Altoona lead to 14-6 at the half and the Wildcats took advantage of a 16-yard punt to tie the score on their first possession of the second half. Carns ran the final 15 yards for the TD and Jacob Puleo ran the 2-point conversion for the tie.
Altoona marched from its own 30 to the Latrobe 18 midway through the third quarter before Metzgar’s 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
Altoona recovered Latrobe fumbles on the Wildcats’ first two possessions in the fourth quarter, but went three-and-out both times.
Following an Altoona punt, Latrobe covered 68 yards in seven plays for the game-winning TD, a 31-yard scamper by Carns, who escaped a possible sack and then outran the Lions’ defense.
“He’s incredible, a heckuva athlete,” Franco said of Carns. “It comes down to that our defense is playing well, our special teams are playing well enough, but our offense is killing us.
“It’s not one group or one person. And, it’s not like they’re not putting forth an effort. They’re playing their tails off, making a great effort.
“We have to be perfect to win.”
Latrobe coach Ray Reitz was happy with his team’s first conference win.
“Guys made plays tonight, offensively and defensively,” he said. “Altoona played hard. They’ve got tough kids and we were lucky to win tonight.”
Game notes: The Lions host Pittsburgh Central Catholic next Friday. … Central Catholic routed defending WPIAL and PIAA state champion North Allegheny, 27-0, Friday. … Jim Noye, Altoona’s Joe Cohen MVP blanket winner in 1983, was the Lions’ honorary captain. … The alumni band performed before the game and at halftime. … Alyssa Palfey, representing the track team, was crowned homecoming queen.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Latrobe0 6 8 6 – 20
Altoona0 14 0 0 – 14
A-Givens 25 fumble return (Metzgar kick), 11:02.
A-Mencer 28 run (Metzgar kick), 6:14.
L-Carns 1 run (kick failed), 3:39.
L-Carns 15 run (Puleo run), 8:12.
L-Carns 31 run (pass failed), 3:21.
RUSHING: Latrobe-Carns 17-92, Monteparte 11-25, Jones 2-17, Puleo 6-3, Stevens 2-(-17). Altoona-Mencer 12-85, Givens 6-25, D. Miller 5-(-37).
PASSING: Latrobe-Carns 16-28-0-184. Stevens 1-1-0-15. Altoona-D. Miller 8-13-0-108, Mencer 3-6-0-40.
RECEIVING: Latrobe-Puleo 11-115, Kissell 2-59, Gufstason 2-24, Larkin 2-21. Altoona-Steave 6-69, Givens 2-29, Berardinelli 2-24, Stroh 1-26.