BEAVER — New Castle High made things interesting Saturday morning when its game against Beaver resumed.
The Red Hurricane scored twice in a span of four minutes in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough as the ‘Canes dropped a 20-14 verdict to the Bobcats in WPIAL Class 4A Parkway Conference action at Pat Tarquinio Field.
“It shows you the type of talent we have on our football team,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “We played an 18-minute game, spotted them 20 points, and we still had a chance to win the game. We left some plays out there this morning.”
The game Friday was suspended with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter due to lightning in the area. Beaver held a 20-0 when the game was placed on hold.
New Castle (1-1 conference, 4-3 overall) got on the scoreboard with 4:48 remaining in the game when quarterback Chris Hood hit Tyler Leekins in stride for a 70-yard touchdown pass. The kick failed, but the ‘Canes trimmed the deficit to 20-6.
“At that point in the game, we were backed up behind the sticks, and we had to take a shot” Cowart said. “We took some shots, but just weren’t able to hit them early. We finally got one. Sometimes deep balls are low-percentage balls, so if you throw six and only hit one, it’s a touchdown. We have the ability to do that. We’ve got to do it at a higher rate, obviously. It was a really good throw and a really good catch.”
Hood finished the game completing 12 of 27 passes for 178 yards.
“I think that deep ball really got Chris going,” Cowart said. “Chris really got hot as the game went on.”
After forcing Beaver (1-1, 4-2) to punt on its next possession, New Castle put together a nine-play, 76-yard drive. The march was capped when Leekins took the handoff from Hood, and connected with Hood for a 9-yard TD pass. Hood hit Leekins with the conversion pass to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 20-14 with 1:47 to go in the contest.
“We have some things in our back pocket that we want to call,” Cowart said. “Chris asked to run it, which was a good call because he had the perfect personnel on the field. Tyler was at wideout, but he’s our guy that throws that. Chris asked me if we could run it, and I said we sure could. Tyler was pretty poised back there and made a nice throw.”
The ‘Canes tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Beaver’s Wyatt Ringer recovered the loose football at the Bobcats’ 48-yard line. Ringer then took three knees to seal the victory for the hosts.
New Castle had a chance earlier in Saturday’s action to get into the end zone, but came up empty. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Beaver 3, Hood’s pass to Owen Ciavarino was broken up by Dylan Porto in the end zone.
“We were first-and-goal from the 6, and I’ll take that every week,” Cowart said. “They made a nice play on Chris on a scramble, they made a nice play on a run play, and then we missed a flat route. Beaver played good defense down there. As bad as things went in the first half, that possession was the difference in the game.”
The ‘Canes were their own worst enemies at times against the Bobcats. New Castle turned the football over five times (three fumbles, two interceptions) and were whistled for 10 penalties for 85 yards.
“Right now, when we are playing poorly, we are highly penalized and turn the ball over,” Cowart said. “You can’t turn the football over five times and tilt the field with penalties. We as a coaching staff are not doing a good job of getting our guys ready. If you look at Beaver, they played a clean game. They were ready to go, they were focused. Their coaches did an absolute great job of putting a game plan together. We aided them with our inability to be ready to go, and that falls squarely on my shoulders.”
Ringer scored on runs of 3, 9 and 3 yards for the Bobcats. He finished with 122 rushing yards on 34 attempts.
“They do a nice job of getting hats on people,” Cowart said. “Ringer is slippery. He’s got good vision and when he hits the hole, he gains extra yards, which is the sign of a good back.”
The ‘Canes will travel to Blackhawk on Friday for another key Parkway clash.
“When you look at the league, Aliquippa’s 2-0 and everybody else is 1-1,” Cowart said. “The silver lining for our football team is we’ve got to identify the mistakes and correct them. We still control our own destiny. If we play good football, we know that we can have a chance to win against any team in our league. We’ve got to be more consistent playing quality football.”