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Mars pulls away from Hampton, claims share of section title

The Wright Stuff
Mars' Evan Wright, middle, runs for a long touchdown during the Planets’ game against Hampton Friday night at Fridley Field in Hampton Township. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle

HAMPTON TWP — Under a misty drizzle in the brisk air, Mars’ Evan Wright envisioned the comforts of a warm, dry locker room.

Seconds later, the veil fell before him, revealing an open field with nothing but a royal blue-painted end zone in the distance.

“I was like, ‘Let’s just run this out and be done,’” Wright said. “It was raining. It was not a good drive. Once my incredible H-back, Ethan Kresinski, hit that linebacker right up the middle and I broke free up the middle, all I had to do was get by the two guys.”

Just like that, he was loose for a 70-yard rushing score, untying a 7-7 count with a dozen ticks remaining in the first half of Friday night’s gridiron matchup with Hampton.

The play put into motion a Planets surge that ended in a 42-15 victory, which gave Mars (7-2, 5-0) at least a share of the Greater Allegheny Conference crown.

“The clock was ticking and I said, ‘Let’s just run this and pray they don’t call a timeout,’” Planets coach Eric Kasperowicz said, thinking back to the first of five unanswered Wright ground scores. “They never did, and we popped it. I thought for sure they were going to call a timeout — and maybe they were after that play to make us punt it.

“That was probably the pivotal play of the game.”

The Talbots (3-6, 3-2) opted not to pause the game clock as it dipped under 30 seconds, allowing the visitors’ offense to get lined up for a snap that was supposed to just send it to the midway point.

“We knew it was third down,” Hampton coach Steve Scuillo said. “They were going to run the clock out. We yelled ‘run’ and we just didn’t defend the run.”

Then, on the opening kick return of the second half, the Talbots’ William Haselrig coughed it up.

Wright cashed in from 27 yards out on the next play, preceding a Mason Childress onside kick that he recovered himself. An eight-play, 49-yard march followed and was capped by Wright’s third touchdown in just over three minutes of game play.

“You let up a play like that and that takes the wind out of your sails,” Sciullo said. “You come out, you fumble the opening kickoff trying to jump over a human being. That’s why you try to make smart plays. Our goal is to have the Talbots not beat the Talbots — and tonight, we defeated ourselves.”

Wright hit pay dirt twice more in the fourth frame and finished the game with 287 yards rushing on 29 gives.

“He’s a game-breaker at the running back position,” Kasperowicz said of his standout ball-carrier. “Most guys can’t take it the distance. Any time he touches the ball, he’s a threat to take it the distance. On a 3rd-and-7 or a 3rd-and-15, you’re not afraid to hand that ball off because he could pop it at any time — just like throwing a go-ball, just like throwing a post.”

He also made it easier on junior quarterback Luke Goodworth who completed just three of his 11 attempts in the first half and also threw a pick. Hampton’s Brock Borgo capitalized on that giveaway, opening the scoring about four minutes in.

Members of the Mars Marching Band performs at halftime during the game between the Fighting Planets and Hampton on Friday night, Oct. 20, 2023, at Fridley Field in Allison Park. Mars won 42-15. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle

That was answered by Eric Kasperowicz’ one-yard surge with 9:51 remaining in the second quarter.

“We were kind of having some trouble getting the snaps and ball-handling and throwing the ball wasn’t crisp, just because it was misty here all night,” Coach Kasperowicz said. “That’s Western Pennsylvania football. We’ve got to be able to adjust, we’ve got to be able to make plays regardless of the weather.”

Knowing Mars receiver Gabe Hein was out with an injury suffered last week, Hampton keyed on the run. Wright wasn’t deterred.

“It was slippery, but just like every week, all I needed to do was be patient and let the linemen do their job,” Wright said. “When they did their job, it was wide open. Those guys were incredible. If you have patience, it’ll hit.”

Nathan Ewing, Brady Jordan, and Childress had interceptions in the second half. The Planets front kept 15 of the Talbots’ 23 rush attempts from going more than three yards. The hosts scored late and converted on a two-point attempt.

Mars' Mason Childress (3) recovers his own onside kick during the game between the Fighting Planets and Hampton on Friday night, Oct. 20, 2023, at Fridley Field in Allison Park. Mars won 42-15. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle

Mars 0 14 14 14 — 42

Hampton 7 0 0 8 — 15

First Quarter

H — Brock Borgo 21 run (Luke Fiscus kick), 8:08

Second Quarter

M — Eric Kasperowicz 1 run (Mason Childress kick), 9:51

M — Evan Wright 70 run (Childress kick), 0:12

Third Quarter

M — Wright 27 run (Childress kick), 11:42

M — Wright 3 run (Childress kick), 9:02

Fourth Quarter

M — Wright 33 run (Childress kick), 11:51

M — Wright 5 run (Childress kick), 7:08

H — Evan McAneny 5 run (Hunter Richardson pass from Jack Shaughnessey), 0:07

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Mars, Evan Wright 29-287, Eric Kasperowicz 5-23, Ethan Kresinski 1-14, Ayden Yocum 7-13, Luke Goodworth 3-(-3), TEAM 1-(-11). Hampton, Brock Borgo 16-68, Evan McAneny 1-5, Jack Halli 1-4, Ray Kirsopp 1-1, William Haselrig 2-(-1), Dustin Kerr 2-(-1).

Passing: Mars, Luke Goodworth 5-16-62-1. Hampton, Porter Kelly 7-18-78-3, Jack Shaugnessey 3-6-33-0.

Receiving: Mars, Liam Hein 5-62. Hampton, William Haselrig 6-74, Dominik Popowich 1-11, Jack Halli 1-20, Brock Borgo 1-4, Evan McAneny 1-2.

Mars’ Luke Goodworth (15) attempts a pass during the game between the Fighting Planets and Hampton on Friday night, Oct. 20, 2023, at Fridley Field in Allison Park. Mars won 42-15. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle
Mars' Eric Kasperowicz (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the game between the Fighting Planets and Hampton on Friday night, Oct. 20, 2023, at Fridley Field in Allison Park. Mars won 42-15. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle
Mars' head coach Eric Kasperowicz (center) talks to his team during a timeout in their game against Hampton on Friday night, Oct. 20, 2023, at Fridley Field in Allison Park. Mars won 42-15. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle

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