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NO JOSHIN’ AROUND: Franklin Regional Steamrolls Backyard Rival

Written by: on Friday, September 19th, 2008


MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Fact:  Before Franklin Regional High School became known as the Panthers, FR was nicknamed the Farmers.

Fact:  In Thursday night’s FSN showcase game, Franklin Regional put the Plum Mustangs out to pasture.

Behind 249 yards rushing and a passing game which only threw two incompletions all game, Franklin Regional (3-1) rolled to an easy 47-7 victory over backyard rival Plum (0-4) in Murrysville.

Things were kept close through one quarter, as both teams battled to a scoreless tie, but the Panthers exploded in the second quarter, scoring 34 of the 41 points in the period.

“I love competition (but the parents might not),” said Panther head coach Greg Botta, “it makes our kids work harder.”

The competition Botta speaks of came not from the purple and gold opponent, but the triumvirate of running backs that comprise Franklin Regional’s backfield.  That trio, Josh Rager, Chad Bowman, and Jesse Samek, combined for 198 rushing yards and scored five of the seven Panther touchdowns on the night.

Of the three, Rager had the most impressive stat line.  He began building the impressive night with a four-yard scoring run with 10:42 left in the second quarter.  Six minutes later, Rager scooted 80 yards, practically untouched, for his second score and a 21-0 Panther lead.

Then, one play after Ryan Mlhoci intercepted Plum quarterback Josh Munzek and returned it 45 yards, Rager scored from 18 yards out.

On the night, Rager finished with 141 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just 10 carries.

“I just try to run my hardest when I get the ball,” Rager said.  (On the season, #25 has now carried the ball 30 times for 326 yards and four scores.)

Jesse Samek’s two-yard touchdown run with 8:56 left in the second quarter gave FR a 14-0 lead.  Samek only played for one half, totaling four carries for 27 yards.

Earlier in the first half, Panther quarterback Anthony Vemdemia had connected on a 32-yard floater to a wide open Josh Staniscia down the home sideline.  When noted about the success of the play, Vendemia smiled and said, “Yeah, we’ve got another (deep one) coming.”

That “other” deep ball came late in the second quarter after Plum cut the Panther margin to 28-7.  Vendemia (8-of-10, 165 yards, 2 TD) hooked up with a streaking Staniscia down the Plum sideline for a 68-yard touchdown pass.  Only :05 remained in the half, but Franklin Regional had stolen back any momentum Plum gained from the touchdown.

“We’ve always been a running football team, but Anthony gives us a lot throwing the ball,” Botta said.  “I just love his confidence on the field.”

FR began the second half with a 4:16 scoring march, capped by Vendemia’s 30-yard screen pass to Chad Bowman (8 rushes, 30 yards; 30-yard TD reception).  That score ballooned the Panther lead to 41-7.

John Arcangelo capped the Panther’s scoring binge with a nine yard jaunt with just 10:39 left in the game, invoking the mercy rule.

Eric Gamboa led all Plum players with 11 rushes for 60 yards and the Mustangs’ lone touchdown, just the second score for the purple and gold this season.  Plum has been outscored 154-14 this season.

Dan Greim added five rushes for 22 yards for the Mustangs, and Munzek passed for 43 yards and ran for another 36.

Staniscia finished with three catches for 109 yards and a touchdown for Franklin Regional.  The Panthers’ leading receiver entering the game, DJ Cappezzuto, finished with three catches for 19 yards.

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