ELLIOT’S ELECTRIC: Pine-Richland senior leaps Rams to the win column
Written by: Josh Funk on Friday, October 10th, 2008
GIBSONIA, Pa. – The North Allegheny marching band ends its halftime show with the “Tiger-a-bunga,” where the entire 250-member unit dances, twirls, and swings its way off the field to an up-tempo cadence.
Pine-Richland, ironically, has a dance of its own. It’s called the Mitch Elliot “Leap of Faith.”
Elliot scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 17 seconds left in the game to give Pine-Richland (3-4 overall, 2-1 Northern Six Conference) a come-from-behind 24-20 victory over North Allegheny (4-3, 2-1) in front of a jam-packed Homecoming crowd.
“Oh my goodness,” an elated Clair Altemus said, surrounded by reporters, “it’s (the win) massive because they’re (NA) the biggest school district in the WPIAL and we’re the smallest school in AAAA. David and Goliath was alive tonight.”
North Allegheny certainly fit the role of Goliath, entering the game with a three-game winning streak in which it outscored its opponents by a combined 115-42, including impressive wins over Seneca Valley (56-14) and Shaler (34-6).
Postgame, Tigers’ head coach Art Walker, Jr. declined comment following his 26th career defeat.
But who could blame Walker for not commenting? His Tigers committed five turnovers, including four fumbles, and committing a costly roughing the passer penalty with 1:13 left in the game.
The final turnover, a fumble by sophomore feature back Alex Papson when he was crushed by P-R’s Ian Hennessy, set Pine-Richland up at the NA 32 yard line with 2:10 left in the game.
From there, the Rams only needed seven plays to score.
“All we needed was a touchdown, and I said I was going to jump,” said Elliot, a senior running back. “I wanted the six (points).
“We got a win. It’s homecoming. It’s NA.”
Altemus had nothing but praise for #4, who finished the night with 27 carries for 87 yards.
“I can’t say enough about Mitch Elliot,” Altemus said. “I mean, look what the kid did – he must have carried the ball 50 times tonight.”
But it wasn’t just Elliot making the big plays for P-R. Junior field general Eric Kordenbrock also contributed in a big way, throwing for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Kordenbrock’s first scoring pass, a 35-yard floater to Steve Valenze (4 rec., 62 yards) gave P-R a 10-7 lead. His second toss, a screen pass to Hennesy (17 rush yards, 74 rec. yards, TD) went for 51 yards and gave P-R a 17-13 lead.
“Kordenbrock grew up right before your eyes tonight,” Altemus said. “He’s been coming along all year and tonight, he stepped up and became a man.”
North Allegheny built leads of 7-3, 13-10, and 20-17 on the night, but each time, the Rams seemed to have an answer. Or a leap, for that matter.
NA took a 7-3 lead on back-up quarterback Justin Brozick’s three-yard option keeper.
The Tigers took a 13-10 lead to open the second half when Papson (24 rush, 117 yards, 2 TD) scored on a nine-yard run. Papson also gave NA its 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter when he scored from four yards out.
Tiger quarterback Mike Locke added 154 yards passing while completing 12 of his 18 passes. Brian Austin had two rushing attempts for 12 yards and added four catches for 60 yards for North Allegheny.
Even though it was just the first meeting between the two schools on the gridiron, Altemus feels NA is a big rivalry game.
“On a winter night, I can see their (NA’s) lights from my office window,” the Rams’ boss said. “If that isn’t a rivalry, I don’t know what is.”
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