Turnovers plagued last night’s Mohawk-Neshannock football game played on the Lancers’ home field.
Once Neshannock cleaned things up, the hosts put it in cruise control.
The Lancers overcame four turnovers and an early three-point deficit to capture a 34-3 WPIAL Midwestern Athletic Conference win.
Neshannock (2-0 conference, 2-1 overall) forced five Warriors turnovers, all coming on interceptions thrown by sophomore quarterback Marc Conti. The Lancers’ Mike Bonner returned one of Conti’s interceptions 32 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.
Neshannock’s defense allowed just 37 yards of total offense, 29 of which came in the first half.
“I’ve been around a long time. But that was sloppy,” Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio said with a laugh when asked if he has ever been involved in a game with that many turnovers. “We were very sloppy offensively. Defensively, I couldn’t be more pleased.
“I thought our defense completely dominated the football game. Those kids got after it. That was a total domination by our defense. They did an excellent job. The kids focused and did well.”
The Lancers took the opening kickoff and marched from their own 29 to Mohawk’s 24. But on the fourth play of the drive, Braden Gennock fumbled a pitch and the Warriors’ Brock Esenwein recovered.
That triggered a rash of turnovers by both teams.
Neshannock’s Ethan Weatherby threw an interception on the team’s second drive. Mohawk’s Cory Brown returned the pilfered pass to the Lancers’ 18. But three Warriors plays lost three yards and they had to settle for a 38-yard Dylan Lloyd field goal.]
The boot was good and it gave Mohawk (0-2, 0-3) a 3-0 lead with 7:13 to go in the opening period. But it would mark the second week in a row the Warriors scored first, but not again the rest of the way.
“That was big,” Mozzocio said of the defensive stand. “They had a little bit of momentum from forcing a turnover. Our defense came right out bang, bang, bang. Stopped them. Pushed them back three yards.
“They got a field goal out of it, but we came out of that series feeling very confident at that point. At times you can gamble when you’re playing defense like that.”
The ground game helped get the Lancers going. They marched 70 yards in nine plays, all on the ground, en route to taking the lead for good on a 31-yard touchdown run by D.J. DeBlasio in the first frame.
Neshannock pushed the lead to 13-3 at the half and 20-3 going to the fourth courtesy of Bonner’s pick six.
Gennock scored two rushing touchdowns for Neshannock and finished with 134 yards rushing on 19 carries. DeBlasio added 84 yards on 12 carries. Tristan Tuck made all four of his extra points for the winners.
“Other than the fumbles and the turnovers, we have to clean that stuff up,” Mozzocio said. “Other than that, they ran hard and did a good job.
Neshannock’s defense was in the backfield most of the game, putting pressure on Conti and hitting the running backs behind the line.
“We just got after it,” Mozzocio said. “We felt we had a good scout on them. Our pass rush was excellent.”
Neshannock will look to keep its momentum going when it visits Ellwood City Lincoln (0-1, 0-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Mohawk returns to action at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 when it travels to conference foe Freedom (2-0, 3-0).