Persistent Fox Chapel solves Connellsville Defense

By: , Friday, October 4, 2019, TRIB-LIVE

Fox Chapel’s offense took its time bending Connellsville’s defense until broke.

The Foxes were held scoreless through the first 21 minutes of the game and then methodically picked the Falcons apart in a 35-20 victory Friday night.

“It’s great to win a game like this,” Fox Chapel running back Sam Brown said. “We just always work hard every practice and every game, and I’ve been waiting for a game to go off. We worked as a team. A lot of games we’ve had were close, and tonight we found a way to finish it in the second half.”

Connellsville (1-6, 0-4) built a defensive game plan to stop Brown, and he rushed for 136 yards on 28 carries.

“Everyone in the stands knew who was getting the ball,” Connellsville coach Marko Thomas said. “We preached it all week long, because (Sam) killed us last year. You can’t tackle up high against someone like him, because he’ll drag you. He pushed piles for 10, 15 yards sometimes.”

Brown’s teammates stepped up to finish long drives with touchdowns.

Down 10-0 in the second quarter, the Foxes (2-5, 1-3) pieced together a 13-play, 80-drive, which was capped off with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Shane Susnak to Ben Wilk, who made a tip-drill catch.

“Everyone likes to score points, but when you can take the ball and just drive it and drive it and drive it and maintain possession, I think it can kind of take the heart out of the other team,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said. “We tell our guys all the time there’s nothing wrong with a 13-play drive.”

Fox Chapel scored on its next four drives in the second half with a pair of touchdown runs by both Susnak and Alexander Wecht. Susnak was 12 of 17 passing for 126 yards.

Connellsville’s early lead was built by Ahmad Hooper’s 45-yard touchdown run and Gage Gillott’s 37-yard field goal.

The Falcons kicker nearly made a 57-yard field goal going into halftime after the offense was called for three false start penalties on its last three downs.

“You’ve got to be mentally tough when you play the game, and I told the kids if you take one of the five-yard penalties away, he makes it,” Thomas said. “Those things hurt. It was just underneath the goal post.”

The Falcons’ Ky’Ron Craggette, who had 145 rushing yards, scored on a 56-yard run in the second half, and Gillotte added a 30-yard field goal.

Three special teams plays — a dropped fake-punt pass that would have been a first down, an onside kick that slipped out of a Connellsville player’s hands and a lost fumble on a kick return — were costly for the Falcons.

“Those are things good teams pull off,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, bad teams don’t. Those were huge. We’re young, and we’ve got to get better in the future.”

Loughran hopes the Foxes build momentum off the win.

“Our kids know we’re capable of playing better than we did in the first half,” Loughran said. “We keep preaching to do your job individually and collectively, the team will take care of itself.”