MATCH REPORT: September 16, 2017 v. South Pittsburgh Hooligans
On Saturday the Highlanders travelled to McDonald, PA to take on cross-town rivals, the South Pittsburgh Hooligans. The Highlanders have had the number on South Pitt over the last few seasons and they wanted to continue that trend and build on the solid win last week against Pitt City. It was a hotter September Saturday than expected, with the temperatures dipping into the low 80’s. With a number of players away for the Highlanders, it was a good opportunity for some younger players to get some more time and to use some of our depth off the bench.
The Highlanders struck early in the first half and didn’t look back. With strong go forward ball from the forwards, the Highlander backs were able to make inroads out wide and burst through. Strong running from backs Neil Reynolds (UPJ) and Michael Zapf made dents in the Hooligan’s defense and determined support play from Zach Powell (Cal) led to a number of first half tries. Tries were also shared around forwards Michael Boyd (Cal) and Brandon Benvenuti, taking the half-time score to 43-0.
The heat was starting to take its effect at the end of the first half, and the Highlanders were hoping to continue their momentum into the second half. Instead, it was the Hooligans that came out fighting with a number of strong carriers (and weak tackling by the Highlanders) to score the first try, 43-7. Fortunately, that was all the room that was given to them. Powell and Reynolds both struck again after that to stretch the score to 57-7. From there, the Highlander substitution bench was emptied with veterans John Shearer (Cal), Brandon Sampson (SRU) and Kevin Dell all getting on the field to show the young guys that they still have it. Also coming off the bench was rookie wing Zach Hebert, who scored on his first touch of the ball from a nice inside pass from flyhalf Devin Zangaro (IUP). In the end, the Highlanders emerged with another impressive 81-7 victory.
In the forwards, Michael Boyd, Tyler Sparkman and Eric David showed impressive stamina to keep fighting away on both offense and defense all day in the heat. The front row of Rob Greg, Nick Eritz (Cal) and Jeff Muha dominated the scrum and had the Hooligans on the back foot throughout the game. The midfield of Reynolds and Patrick Dobbins (UPJ) ran strongly as per usual, and the addition of Blayze Richardson (Cal) in the second half added even more power.
The Highlanders will look to tighten things up even further this week when they travel to Mt. Pleasant to take on the Greensburg Maulers (0 – 2).
First XV: 1 – Gregg; 2 – Eritz; 3 – Muha; 4 – Chapman; 5 – Sparkman; 6 – Boyd; 7 – David; 8 – Benvenuti; 9 – Powell; 10 – Zangaro; 11 – Zapf; 12 – Reynolds; 13 – Dobbins; 14 – McAuliffe; 15 – Glasstetter
Reserves: 16 – Andrus; 17 – Reaghard; 18 – Fazekas; 19 – Sheraer; 20 – Hebert; 21 – Richardson; 22 – Dell; 23 – Samspson
Substitutions: 48’ Andrus for Gregg (TC); 49’ – Reaghard for Benvenuti (TC); 52’ – Shearer for Chapman (TC); 58’ – Richardson for Glasstetter (TC); 65’ – Sampson for Eritz (TC); 66’ – Herbert for McAuliffe (TC); 74’ – Fazekas for Sparkman (TC), Dell for Zapf (TC)
Referee: Alex Gralia (ARURS)
Tries: Benvenuti (4); Boyd (1); Dell (1); Glasstetter (1); Hebert (1); Muha (4); Powell (2, 3, 4, 5); Reynolds (3, 4); Zapf (1)
Conversions: Powell (8/13)
Man of the Match: Zach Powell, Scrumhalf (1)