PATTON - Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic's 17-3 victory over Cambria Heights on Friday won't be classified as a thing of beauty, but winning ugly is still winning.
And in a game that featured numerous momentum swings created by eight turnovers, costly mistakes and penalties, the Marauders persevered to pick up their first win of the season in a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference game.
"I told the guys it wasn't pretty," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. "When it is all said and done, it's about the final score. We did enough to get the win tonight."
The game was much closer than score indicated.
In fact early in the fourth quarter, Cambria Heights was ready to recapture the lead (trailing 9-3 at the time), but BG's bend-but-don't-break defense stuffed a first-and-goal opportunity from the Marauder 1, and forced a fumble.
"Our defense played an absolutely incredible game," Wheeler said. "I told our guys that they won us the game tonight. To face a first-and-goal from 1-yard line and for us to stop them and cause a turnover was tremendous. My hat is off to our defensive coaches and my defensive players."
Cambria Heights set up shop at the BG 24 after the Marauders mishandled a punt snap, which was recovered by Cody Baker.
CH senior workhorse Josh Fees ripped off 10 yards. Three more Fees rushing attempts set up the Highlanders with a first-and-goal from the BG 1. Fees plowed his way up the middle, but out of mass pile of players squirted the football, which BG's Matt Gormley snatched from the air and rumbled 20 yards the other direction.
"We're all just very aggressive. We look for the big plays. We needed a stop and we got one," said BG Brandon Chadbourn, who turned some key defensive plays including two interceptions. "Somebody stripped the ball and it ended up in Matt Gormley's hands somehow and I just saw him running down the field."
"We practice gang tackling and with gang tackling comes turnovers," said BG senior defensive end Nick Little.
Even after the momentum swayed to BG's favor, Cambria Heights' defense stood strong. The Highlanders forced BG into a punt from its own 36 with 8:21 left.
But on the punt, CH was penalized for roughing the kicker, which negated a 30-yard punt return by senior Joe Davis, and gave BG a first down. BG took valuable time off the clock, but CH retained possession after Isaac Sclesky and Baker stopped Chadbourn on a fourth-and-three at the CH 28.
CH couldn't muster any offense and were held to a three and out. A 13-yard punt set up BG at the Highlander 45. The Marauders took advantage as junior quarterback Sam McCloskey scampered around the end for a 20-yard gain. On the next play, junior running back D.J. Kitt rushed up the middle for the BG 20-yard touchdown.
"It was an absolute battle," Wheeler said. "Cambria Heights plays as hard as any team we have played. They are well coached. We're real happy to come out with the "W" tonight."
BG's McCloskey was pressed into action as quarterback after the Marauders' first series when Damon Rickens was injured trying to recover a fumble. Rickens is believed to have a broken collarbone.
Wheeler said McCloskey "did some great things for us." He rushed for 50 yards, and directed BG's deceptive offense.
"I have confidence in myself. I've been playing varsity football for two years now. I haven't played quarterback ever in my life, but I have confidence that I can get it done," McCloskey said. "We have a lot of options on offense. Everyone is elusive and quick. It causes problems for the defense because they don't know who is going to get the ball."
On the other side of the ball, Wheeler high praise for his defense, especially Little, who recorded three tackles for losses.
"Nick played a tremendous game for us," Wheeler said. "They tried to block him with two guys and he was unstoppable."
Cambria Heights coach Jarrod Lewis chalked up this loss to missed opportunities.
"The key was our mistakes. At the end of the game, we didn't punch it in. We had penalties and mistakes on our part and Bishop Guilfoyle capitalized on that," Lewis said. "The bottom line is we didn't capitalize on our opportunities."
Game notes: Fees led CH with 61 yards rushing Kitt and sophomore back Aaron Yasiliutis each added 62 yards for BG Both placekickers were impressive with BG's Jared Verba (34 yards) and CH's Johnny Galinis (33 yards) hitting field goals Bishop Guilfoyle hosts Forest Hills on Saturday while Cambria Heights travels to Central Cambria on Friday Cambria Heights celebrated Homecoming. Shawn Lacue and Kylie Miller were named Homecoming King and Queen.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle6 0 3 8 - 17
Cambria Heights3 0 0 0 - 3
CH-Galinis 33 FG, 7:00.
BG-McCloskey 5 run (kick failed), 2:45.
BG-Verba 35 FG, 9:13.
BG-Kitt 20 run (Yasiliutis pass from McCloskey), 2:58.
RUSHING: Bishop Guilfoyle-Kitt 11-62, Yasiliutis 6-62, McCloskey 17-50, Chadbourn 5-26, Rickens 1-(-7), Team 2-13. Cambria Heights-Fees 17-50, D. Link 4-11, Gill 4-3, Davis 3-2. Team 1-6.
PASSING: Bishop Guilfoyle-McCloskey 3-6-1-33. Cambria Heights-E. Link 3-7-2-49.
RECEIVING: Bishop Guilfoyle-Yasiliutis 3-39. Cambria Heights-Lacue 1-30, Davis 1-15, Fee 1-4.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bishop Guilfoyle-Chadbourn 2. Cambria Heights-Lacue.
TEAM STATISTICS BG CH
First downs 16 8
Rushes-yards 39-200 35-83
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 3-6-1 3-7-2
Yards passing 39 49
Total yards 239 132
Fumbles-lost 7-3 2-2
Penalties-yards 6-40 5-50
Punts-avg. 1-45 4-31