Braden Gennock

Braden Gennock

Neshannock’s offense is rolling — and running and rumbling.

The Lancers lit up the scoreboard last night for the fourth week in a row with a 54-14 decision over Shady Side Academy in a non-conference battle at Bob Bleggi Stadium.

Since opening the season with a 21-7 non-conference loss at Avonworth, the Lancers (4-1) have picked up four victories and outscored their opponents, 186-51, in the process.

“It was a great win for us,” Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio said. “Coming into the game, I was very, very leery of this team. They attack you and they have skill guys everywhere. Our kids just took the life right out of them.”

It marks the third week in a row Neshannock’s defensive unit has shut out an offense. The squad gave up a special teams score (field goal) to Mohawk and blanked Ellwood City. The Indians got their touchdowns on kickoff and interception returns.

“We’re playing some great football, defensively,” Mozzocio said. “Offensively, we kicked it into gear tonight.”

Shady Side Academy, which posted a 56-14 win over Neshannock last year, struck first. Mason Tomlin, a son of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score. However, the Lancers marched right back on their first possession and tied it on Braden Gennock’s 1-yard run.

“Those types of (big) plays, we just put them in the back of our heads and focus on the next play,” Gennock said. “It was amazing to get this one, especially after last year. It wasn’t a very good game for us. We knew we had to focus hard and it was a must-win game for us.”

Gennock scored again on an 11-yard run, but the Indians erased the deficit when the speedy Tomlin intercepted a pass and raced 52 yards for a TD and a 14-all tie at the end of the first quarter.

“We started off slow again, having some errors and doing some things we shouldn’t be doing,” Mozzocio said. “But, we recovered very quickly and dominated the football game.”

It was all Neshannock in the second quarter. The Lancers displayed their big-play potential once again. The team reached the end zone four times and all were from at least 23 yards out. Ethan Weatherby got it started with a 23-yard run. Gennock followed with a 38-yard scoring burst. Cam’Ron Owens took a jet sweep 27 yards to the house and Mike Bonner took another jet sweep 35 yards to the end zone. It gave the team a 41-14 halftime advantage.

D.J. DeBlasio put the game out of reach in the third quarter on touchdown runs of 5 and 87 yards.

“It’s definitely a relief (to get big plays),” Mozzocio said. “It takes some pressure off us defensively and lets us cut loose over there.”

Gennock led the ground game with 142 yards on 16 carries. DeBlasio had 127 yards on six touches. Weatherby finished with 99 yards on 12 carries.

“It’s amazing to get those big runs. That’s where we thrive — in the open field,” Gennock said. “We just make our cuts and go, especially after getting past the offensive line. They did a really good job again tonight. I thank them for that.”

Neshannock returns to Midwestern Athletic Conference play Friday at New Brighton. Both teams are unbeaten in conference action.

“We’re very excited. The kids are focused every week from start to finish,” Mozzocio said. “We’ll come in here (Saturday) morning and the focus will be on New Brighton. We’ll move forward again. They continue to be coached and play hard each week. I am very proud of them.”

Joe Sager is a former full-time sports writer for the New Castle News and currently freelances for the News and other Western Pennsylvania newspapers.

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