New Castle Hurricanes Blow by Hopewell, 25-7Written by: William Albright on Saturday, September 20th, 2008
By Bill Albright
Western PA Writer
NEW CASTLE — So much for previous results!
When Hopewell and New Castle met Friday night at Taggart Stadium in a Parkway Conference football matchup, it appeared to be a contest between two teams headed in opposite directions.
Hopewell entered the contest with a 3-0 mark having outscored its three opponents by a 95-19 margin, while the Hurricanes (0-3), although competitive through the first three outings, were still looking for their first win of the season.
However, obviously tired of just being competitive and in need of a win, the Hurricanes got their wish as after spotting the previously unbeaten Vikings a 7-0 lead early in the third period, they scored 25 unanswered points in the final 19 minutes of the game for a 25-7 win.
“We talked a lot about making choices, and I think tonight they took it upon themselves to make some good choices by playing good team football,” said Hurricane head coach Frank Bongivengo. “I have been waiting and I think the kids have been waiting for the past three weeks for us to put it all together and tonight, they made the choice to put it together to do everything they had to do to win the game. To beat the sixth-ranked team in the state is no easy chore and the kids did a really good job.”
With the two teams battling through the first half scoreless, the Hurricanes showed their first sign of making a statement as in the final seconds of the half, they came up with an outstanding goal line stand to keep the Vikings off the scoreboard.
Hopewell had a first-and-goal from the New Castle 3-yard line, and four plays later, the half ended when Hurricane defensive back John Fields intercepted a Tyler George pass on the final play of the second quarter.
“They came in(to the locker room) with a ton of confidence after that play,” said Bongivengo about the goal-line stand. “When we picked off that pass in the end zone, it was a big boost for us because we have struggled defensively. Any time something like that happens to you defensively, you become just a little bit more confident in what you are going.”
The two teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions of the second half, the Vikings holding a 7-6 lead as a result of a missed conversion attempt by the ‘Canes.
Fifty-five seconds after Hopewell scored the game’s first points, New Castle answered when quarterback Michael Bongivengo tossed his first of two TD tosses, a 60-yard pitch-and-catch effort to Brandon Burley.
Jump-started by the Burley score, it was all Red & Black as New Castle dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage to pull away for the win. So dominant was the New Castle defense in the fourth quarter that it only allowed the Vikings to run six plays from scrimmage.
“Being able to do things on both sides of the ball makes you a good team,” said Bongivengo. “When you do those things, it gives you a good opportunity to win the game. The defense did a great job tonight of holding us in there until we got things going. We were strung down with some penalties and bad plays in the first half, and they (the defense) kept us in there until the offense started clicking.”
While the Hurricane defense was virtually immovable throughout the game, the offense picked up things as they began making plays to the outside of a tiring Viking defensive unit.
“That has been one of our strengths,” said Bongivengo of the ‘Canes team speed. “We have been able to move the ball pretty much against everybody we played so far.
Hopewell coach Dave Vestal agreed that the Hurricanes speed was a difference in the way the second half unfolded.
“They are a very good football team and they are extremely explosive,” said Vestal. “We had our hands full, but we turned the ball over a few times and also had a few opportunities to stop them. But we just didn’t execute. They are a good football team and we knew that coming in. We just have to get better ourselves.”
Following Burley’s big TD reception, New Castle completed the scoring with touchdowns on a 4-yard pass from Michael Bongivengo to TaShan Jones, a 1-yard run by Bongivengo and an 8-yard run by Keith Keene.
While coach Bongivengo was calling the shots from the sidelines, his son, Michael, was running the show on the field. For his efforts, Bongivengo finished with outstanding numbers as he passed for 125 yards and a pair of scores while also rushing for another 85 yards and one touchdown.
“Michael has been consistent,” praised the elder Bongivengo of his son’s performance. “I can’t complain about his play so far. He has made some really good plays for us and tonight, I thought he made some really heady plays, both with his feet and with his arm. We had a couple drops and we have to make sure that we catch the ball. I know he is my son, but that aside, he has been a standup quarterback for us. He is a player.”
Although disappointed with his team’s first loss, Vestal had some good thoughts about his players as well as the Hurricanes.
“We are still a young and inexperienced team, but fortunately, we came out of this game healthy,” said Vestal. “I don’t know if the people around the WPIAL will be shocked (with the outcome) because they (New Castle) are a good football team. We made mistakes and we knew coming in that if we made mistakes and didn’t execute, we were going to have a hard time winning the game. But our kids played hard and we are still a good football team. We just have to work hard to correct our mistakes so we can get better.”
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