Gateway thrashes McKeesport for Foothills Conference title
Written by: Josh Funk on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
McKEESPORT, Pa. – As Gateway’s football team readied for a much-anticipated tussle with McKeesport, the Gators’ marching band blasted the strains of Michael Jackson’s hit “Thriller.”
The game turned out to be a laugher.
Gateway (9-0) claimed the Foothills Conference championship with a dominating 35-14 victory over the homestanding Tigers (7-2) Friday night from Weigle-Shaeffer Memorial Stadium.
“For a while, we were right there,” said veteran McKeesport coach George Smith. “We were dealing with them. But after a while, things multiplied.”
Early on, the game lived up to its billing. Gateway got on the board after capitalizing on a muffed McKeesport punt. Orne Bey scored from three yards out, and the Gators led, 7-0.
McKeesport immediately countered. Set up by a long kickoff return to the Gateway 38, the Tigers took six plays to find paydirt. Ty-Meer Brown hit Sam Gooden with a 20-yard touchdown pass, and the score was tied.
The defenses reigned supreme for much of the half after those initial scores, until Gateway started a drive from its own seven yard line with 5:53 left in the first half. Then, the complexion of the game changed.
Gateway took the ball 93 yards in 18 plays, and ran 5:38 of game clock while accumulating six first downs. Quarterback Rob Kalkstein capped the drive with a one-yard plunge with 15 seconds left in the half, and Gateway held a 14-7 lead.
Gateway pushed the margin to 21-7 when Brendon Felder darted in from 10 yards out with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
It was here where things began multiplying against McKeesport.
A halfback option pass from Gooden was incomplete, but the intended Tiger receiver was blanketed, and appeared to be interfered with on the play, but no flag was thrown. Forced to punt, McKeesport booted a moonshot punt, which Gateway’s return man muffed, and the Tigers recovered.
But the recovery was nullified. McKeesport was flagged for kick catching interference, giving Gateway possession at its own 34 after the 15-yard penalty was assessed.
Eight plays later, Kalkstein scored on a 13-yard run, and Gateway pushed the lead to 28-7.
McKeesport muffed the ensuing kickoff attempt. Gateway recovered, and Kalkstein hit a streaking Felder on a 35-yard bomb down the visiting sideline to cap the Gators’ scoring.
“We forced a lot of mistakes on McKeesport,” said Gators head coach Terry Smith. “Our defense played awesome tonight. We dominated the line of scrimmage and our offense dominated by keeping them off of the field.
“My kids are ready for this moment,” Smith continued. “They’re a business-like group.”
Gateway was certainly business-like this night, rolling up 415 yards of offense and 24 first downs. The Gators ran for 231 yards and Kalkstein threw for another 184 on a 16-of-26 night.
Gateway came into the game averaging over 210 rushing yards and 170 passing yards per game.
McKeesport, however, couldn’t get anything going for two reasons: 1.) Gateway’s defense, and 2.) Gateway kept the ball away from the Tigers.
McKeesport ran just 17 first half plays to Gateway’s 36. The Tigers gained 42 yards rushing and 53 passing. For the game, McKeesport ran for as many yards as it passed (87 each), and the Tigers attempted 10 total passes.
The Tigers entered the game with 15 pass attempts all season – four of them came in the season-opening loss to Saint Joe’s Prep.
“We struggled offensively,” George Smith said. “They had some good reads. They might have known some of our plays.
“They forced us,” Smith continued. “They took us out of our game.”
Darien Robinson, the Tigers’ leading rusher with more than 1,200 yards, was held to 58 yards on 14 carries. He capped the game’s scoring with a two-yard run with 4:08 left in the game. Brown completed 6-of-9 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Bey finished with a game-high 106 yards on 23 carries. Felder, a North Carolina recruit, just missed 100 yards, finishing with 98 yards on 14 carries. Kalkstein added five runs for 28 yards.
Gateway will more than likely be the #1 seed in the “AAAA” bracket of the WPIAL playoffs. McKeesport will play a home playoff game next Friday night, but could fall anywhere between seed #2 to 8.
NOTE: Kalkstein’s fourth quarter touchdown pass was the 64th of his career, which ties him for 13th place in state history with Forest Hills’ Brandon Bailey and Travis Rearick and Mount Carmel’s Marcus Wasilewski. Kalkstein is the first WPIAL quarterback to throw 64 or more touchdown passes in his career.
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