Altoona wins 2nd straight
Senior Lawhead scores three TDs
When you’re building a program, you’ve got to take baby steps, and it looks like the Altoona Mountain Lions are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
The Lions (2-1) won their second straight game and went over the .500 mark for the first time in at least four years when they trimmed Pittsburgh Allderdice, 27-9, Friday at Mansion Park.
It was elementary school night, and the Lions treated the young fans to an entertaining victory.
“We always talk about whoever handles adversity and the sudden changes in a game will win,” Altoona coach Nick Felus said, “and we did that tonight.”
There were plenty of heroes in maroon uniforms, but none stood taller than Mitchell Lawhead.
The 6-foot, 195-pound senior tailback scored three touchdowns — two on 1-yard runs and the third on a 19-yard pass. He also made several critical stops from his linebacker spot.
“Mitchell Lawhead is a warrior, a stud,” Felus said. “He’s an unbelievable kid who is an extremely hard worker. He puts himself in position to make plays by his preparation Monday through Thursday.
“He’s our leader, and I think his best football is still ahead of him,” Felus noted.
After Brandon Shunk blocked a punt, Lawhead scored on a 2-yard blast midway through the first quarter to send the Lions on their way. A short time later, quarterback Connor McCarthy and wide receiver Connor Adams hooked up on 22-yard pass-run TD to give the Lions a 14-0 advantage.
Allderdice got its offense in gear in the second quarter but defensive stops by Gabe Sankey (a sack) and John Jones (a fumble recovery) got the Lions out of danger, enabling the hosts to keep the two-TD lead at intermission.
Allderdice’s Rashuan Caldwell broke a 70-yard TD run on the Dragons’ first possession of the second half, but the Lions answered behind the play of sophomore quarterback Marcus Day.
The 6-4, 200-pound Day gained 26 yards on two carries, paving the way for a 47-yard dash by Lawhead to the Dice 5-yard line. Lawhead, lined up as the wildcat back, scored from the 1 to make it 20-6.
“Marcus (Day) is a good change of pace for us,” Felus said. “He’s done a good job to prepare himself, and we have confidence in him. He runs the ball extremely well, and we saw some things where we thought he could help us with the quarterback run game.
“Nothing against Connor McCarthy — he’s our guy at quarterback — but Marcus gave us some things in the run game at critical times,” Felus added.
“He’s a for-real sophomore,” Lawhead said of Day. “He’s not the best passer yet, but he’s only a sophomore and is the future of this program.
“McCarthy is a great quarterback, so don’t sleep on him,” Lawhead offered, “but Marcus is up and coming and could be a force for the future.”
Allderdice’s Henry Bump booted a 28-yard field goal late in the third quarter but Lawhead took a short pass from Day, eluded a couple tacklers, and turned it into a 19-yard TD to seal the deal with only 2:22 to play.
“We made a couple of critical turnovers and had a couple of critical penalties,” Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett said. “We’re very undisciplined right now, but we’ll get better.”
While the Dragons are still winless (0-3), Lawhead and the Lions (2-1) are upbeat.
“It feels good,” Lawhead said, “and we’re going for three in a row.”
Game notes: Mike Folcarelli also recovered a fumble for the Lions and Murray Kyle intercepted a pass for the winners. … Haslett’s brother, Jim, was a standout player at IUP and later played and coached in the NFL … Altoona hosts unbeaten Chambersburg (3-0) in their Mid-Penn Conference opener next Friday at Mansion Park. … Altoona’s honorary captain was 2010 Distinguished Alum Brian Kamoie, AAHS Class of 1989, who is the Deputy Associate Administrator for Mission Support at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Allderdice 0 0 9 0 — 9
Altoona 14 0 6 7 — 27
Alt–Lawhead 1 run (Eisel kick), 6:17.
Alt–Adams 22 pass from McCarthy Eisel kick), 3:13.
All–Caldwell 70 run (run failed), 11:34.
Alt–Lawhead 1 run (run failed), 5:38.
All–Bump 28 FG, 0:23.
Alt–Lawhead 19 pass from Day (Eisel kick), 2:22.
TEAM STATISTICS All Alt
First downs 13 12
Total yards 341 258
Rushes-yards 34-183 37-172
Yards passing 158 86
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 7-15-1 9-17-2
Punts-avg. 2-35 3-34
Fumbles-lost 2-2 0
Penalties-yards 7-73 4-43
RUSHING–Allderdice, Caldwell 18-119, Dugger 14-55, Hill 1-11, Harvey 1-(-2). Altoona, Lawhead 17-100, Day 11-62, McCarthy 2-7, Adams 5-5, TEAM 2-(-2).
PASSING–Allderdice, Dugger 7-15-1-158. Altoona, McCarthy 8-15-2-57, Day 1-1-0-19, Adams 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING–Allderdice, Harvey 4-124, Hall 3-34. Altoona, Adams 5-55, Lawhead 2-24, Brandt 1-7.