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Red Dragons give first half fight against undefeated Highlanders @CH_Highlanders @PLRedDragons

Written by: on Sunday, October 24th, 2021

 

Senior running back Brady Syster scores the two-point conversion in the second quarter for Purchase Line (above). RAY KAUFFMAN PHOTO.

If the Purchase Line Red Dragons can take away anything from their defeat of October 22, against the Cambria Heights Highlanders, it is that the score was close at halftime. After 24 minutes the score was 26-14, compared to the final score 48-14. Although the Red Dragons weren’t able to reach the endzone in the second half, there were some positives to take from the first and second quarter.

The Dragons’ first drive ended on a quick three-and-out, allowing the Highlanders to take the field at the 31-yard line. Seniors Tanner Hite and Ryan Haluska, along with junior Tanner Trybus combined for a first down, and Hite hit the endzone, not long after, with a 28-yard touchdown that made the score 6-0.

Purchase Line’s senior Brady Syster returned the kickoff across midfield and to their opponent’s 40-yard line, but that was where the progression stopped. The next few plays consisted of a blocked pass and a sack near midfield, forcing the Dragons’ punt team out to the field.

The Highlanders and the Dragons exchanged the ball for a majority of the rest of the quarter, but no team reached the endzone. However, Cambria Heights was driving down the field and ended the quarter at the Red Dragons’ 3-yard line. The score after 12 minutes was 6-0, Cambria Heights.

The Highlanders struck very early in the second quarter with a 3-yard run by Haluska. On the conversion, junior quarterback Ty Stockley ran the ball in to make the score 14-0.

Purchase Line’s senior Mello Sanchez caught the kickoff at the 14-yard line and cut up the left sideline. Eluding all of the Highlanders’ kick team, Sanchez returned the ball for an 86-yard touchdown to create a score of 14-6.

Stockley’s big run to the 17-yard line on the play after kickoff, along with a few short bursts from Haluska, set the quarterback up for a 1-yard touchdown and a score of 20-6.

On the Dragons’ next series, after a few short plays, sophomore quarterback John Elick dropped back to pass and was able to hit Sanchez at the 15-yard line. Sanchez was able to continue until the 8. Another Elick to Sanchez pass gave the Dragons another six points on the board with an 8-yard touchdown. Syster took care of the conversion to make the score a close 20-14.

Another couple of ball exchanges ended with Cambria Heights with the ball for the last few minutes of the quarter. Stockley powered through Purchase Line’s defense to the 27-yard line, and a few plays later, finished the quarter out with a 10-yard touchdown run. This put the Dragons 12 points away from the Highlanders at halftime, with a score of 26-14.

Short bursts from the Highlanders got them to midfield to open the third quarter, until Hite got loose to the 29. On the next play, Hite took it to the house for a 29-yard touchdown. It was Stockley that scored the following two-points, making the score 34-14.

The Dragons’ next drive consisted of Elick, Syster and senior Jayce Brooks up until the Highlanders’ 25-yard line. Purchase Line tried to pass the ball, but this ultimately ended their drive, when an interception was thrown at the 10-yard line.

The Dragons held the Highlanders until a pivotal third down, ended with a false start penalty on the team in white and a first down for Cambria Heights. A few plays later, Stockley tossed the ball to Hite, who ran the right sideline to the 39-yard line. Once again, the Dragons’ defense held, until another false start penalty was called on them, giving the Highlanders a first down. This is where the quarter ended, with a score of 34-14.

Trybus wasted no time in the last quarter. He struck with a 29-yard touchdown, and with the extra point kick, Cambria Heights’ score was increased to 41-14. From here, the junior varsity players began rotating into the game. The Dragons ended their drive with a punt and the Highlanders ended the game with a 25-yard touchdown by Lucas Storm. With the kick, the score became 48-14 and stayed that way for the remainder of the game. This allowed the Cambria Heights Highlanders to keep their undefeated record and forced the Dragons to take their fourth loss in a row.

Brooks said, “That team was better than us, but we still kept pushing to keep with them in the beginning, despite what we were all told about them. To prepare for next week, we need to come together as a team better. We lost a couple of starters, but we need to learn how to bounce back from that and get the next guy in.”

Syster added, “A big positive that I’ve seen this week is overcoming obstacles and bumps in the road. With Andrew (Beer) out, we’re going to have to work on coverage for next week because Conemaugh Township throws a lot. The defensive backs have to work extra hard this week and with playoffs, we can’t turn back. We cannot let the little things destroy us.”

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