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New Castle Outslugs Indiana, 55-49

Written by: on Saturday, November 8th, 2008

By Bill Albright
Western PA Writer

BUTLER — When New Castle and Indiana faced each other Friday night at Butler High’s Art Bernardi Stadium in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL-AAA tournament, the game took on the appearance of a heavyweight boxing match with the last fighter standing to be declared the winner.
After punching and jabbing at each other for 46 minutes and 98 points in a 49-all tie, it was the Hurricanes who delivered the knockout punch to post a 55-49 win over the Little Indians.
With the win, the Hurricanes advance to the semifinals and will play Thomas Jefferson Friday night at a site to be determine by conference officials. Thomas Jefferson advanced to the semifinals with a 35-16 win over Hopewell.
After coming out on the short end of a 27-18 to Indiana in the second game of the regular season, New Castle coach Frank Bongivengo knew it was going to be a battle the second time around.
“That was one of the most physical games we have been involved in a for a long, long time,” said an exhausted, but happy Bongivengo. “I have to give all the credit to Indiana and their staff because they have some tough-nosed kids over there and they weren’t about to give up the ship either. That was just an epic battle between two quality football teams.”
After Indiana had tied the game at 49-all with 6:28 remaining, the ‘Canes took over on their 23.
Using excellent clock management while steadily moving down the field, Hurricane tailback Keith Keene scored the game-winner on a fourth-and-1 from the Indiana 3-yard line. The game covered 77 yards and took 11 jabs to complete.
Other than coming out on top of the nailbiter, the good news for New Castle was their offensive efforts that netted more than 500 yards total offense.
However, on the other side of the ball, the Little Indians also put up a big offense total of 360 yards. Although the final score of the first game might not have indicated it, according to Bongivengo, the Hurricanes didn’t handle the Indiana offense in the first meeting either.
“They rushed for around 400 yards the first time around so I guess we didn’t handle it very well that time either,” said Bongivengo. “That was a major concern of ours and we thought we had a pretty good game plan coming in tonight. But that (Indiana quarterback Ben) Fiscus can run that offense like nobody’s business. Half the time, you don’t even know who has the football. We will go back to the drawing board and hopefully, we can find a way not to let that happen again.”
Leading the Hurricane offense was the coach’s son, quarterback Michael Bongivengo, with 197 yards rushing and another 112 passing. Keene wasn’t far behind Bongivengo with 188 yards overland as the two combined for nearly 400 yards total offense.
“We have been able to move the ball well for much of the season,” said Bongivengo. “Other than the Blackhawk game, nobody has been able to stop us consistently and it was no different tonight. We just have to figure out a way to get some stops on defense.”
While unable to effectively stop the Little Indians offense, coach Bongivengo was concerned about another factor in the game. His Hurricanes were flagged 13 times for nearly 100 yards, some of the flags coming at crucial times in the game.
“The penalties were terrible. We can’t afford to play football like that,” the coach said. “We made some other mistakes, but we have to find a way to get away from those penalties.”
Quarterback Bongivengo scored four touchdowns in the wild game, Keene adding a pair of scores including the eventual game-winner. Also scoring touchdowns for the ‘Canes were Jujan Jay who caught one of Bongivengo’s passes covering 24 yards, while Bongivengo also hooked up with Brandon Burley for 11 yards and six points for New Castle’s first score of the game.
Jay also tacked on seven extra point conversions to go along with his touchdown.
“Our defense had trouble stopping them, but we were still able to grind it out, get some turnovers and most importantly, win the game,” said the younger Bongivengo. “They (Indiana) made some big plays too, but our offense kept the wheels turning and that is all we needed.”
With the Hurricanes leading 55-49, Indiana had one final chance to pull the game out, but 14 yards on two running plays to go along with four incomplete passes ended any chance the Indians had to win the game.
Ecstatic with the win, the quarterback was also looking forward to playing Thomas Jefferson in the semifinals.
As for playing next week, Bongivengo replied, “Hey, that is fine with me. I am happy and I want to keep playing. I just want to get there (to the WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field).

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