Bethel Park ruins homecoming night for Moon Tigers

Preston Moore, Moon Sports Beat Writer

Moon Township,  Pa. — The Bethel Park Blackhawks (3-2, 2-1) traveled to Tigers Stadium to take on the Moon Tigers (2-4, 1-3) on Moon’s homecoming night. The running game for the Blackhawks and dominance on defense led them to a commanding victory over the Tigers.

Moon came out of the gates ice cold, as was evident in their first drive when they made a head-scratching decision and went for it on fourth down on their own 35-yard line. Bethel Park took advantage of this great field position and scored off a 32-yard rushing touchdown from Sean McGowan to make it 7-0 Blackhawks. McGowan was given the start at tailback after Bethel Park’s starting back was sidelined due to injury.

Near the end of the first quarter, Moon’s offense seemed to hit its stride. Dante Clay and Ramone Dean connected on multiple third downs to move the chains. During the Tigers march down the field, the first quarter ended with the score still in the Blackhawks favor at 7-0.

The Tigers’ drive was capped off by a four-yard rushing touchdown from Jamal Littlejohn, who carried three defenders from the line of scrimmage to make it 7-7. This was a needed response after the Tigers offense did next to nothing in their previous drives.

During the next drive, the Tigers defense hopped in on the action and Malcolm Johnson ripped the ball out of McGowan’s grasp. Moon recovered the ball at Bethel Park’s 28-yard line. However, Moon couldn’t come away with anything as they turned the ball over on downs.

The next drive for the Blackhawks was a penalty festival. A total of four penalties were dished out. A critical roughing the passer penalty was called on the Tigers after their defense stopped the Blackhawks on a third-and-long. Bethel Park capitalized on the penalty and Luke Surunis ended the drive on a 26-yard rushing touchdown to take the lead at 14-7 with two minutes left in the half.

Moon tried to run the two-minute drill but ended up having to punt after going three and out with 42 seconds left in the quarter.

Bethel Park tried to sneak away with some points, but that ended in disaster for the Blackhawks. A 40-yard pick six by Littlejohn with 33 seconds left was the result of an ill-advised throw from Anthony Chiccitt. This made the score 14-14. Bethel Park then ran out the clock to take it to halftime.

Bethel Park’s first drive of the half ended in yet another fumble that was recovered by Moon. However, after another turnover on downs later in the drive, Moon squandered a great scoring opportunity.

The Blackhawks passing game was almost non-existent for the entire game. Chiccitt took many shots down the field, but only ended up with 49 passing yards. Bethel Park didn’t need their passing offense as their rushing attack was a force to be reckoned with.

With five minutes left in the third quarter, Surunis had a 3-yard rushing touchdown after a drive that consisted of only rushing attempts to make the score 21-14 Blackhawks.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Bethel went for it on fourth down at midfield and McGowan broke a 30-yard run. During the run, he attempted a hurdle but was drilled into the ground by Dawson Snyder. Moon forced a fourth down at their own 5-yard line and forced Bethel to kick a field goal with 9:35 left in the game. This made the score 24-14 in favor of the Blackhawks.

Moon attempted to get back in the game but took a huge blow as they fumbled on their own 33-yard line and gave Bethel Park great field position. Bethel Park easily scored off of Moon’s miscue, and McGowan broke the 200-yard rushing mark as well as he scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown on the same drive. The score became 31-14 with the Blackhawks still heavily in the lead.

Moon took the ball with eight minutes left and tried to mount a comeback. After Moon converted a couple of times, Clay threw an off-balance pass and was intercepted by William Patrizio who made an amazing sliding catch. Bethel Park took over at Moon’s 43-yard line and the game now seemed out of reach for the Tigers.

The Blackhawks put the game away with a 2-yard rushing touchdown for Surunis which was his third rushing TD of the game. His third touchdown made the score 38-14 in favor of the Blackhawks. Bethel Park stopped the Tigers on defense and took possession. Bethel Park ran out the clock to end the game as they took a big victory on the road. The final score was 38-14 in favor of the Blackhawks.

Next Friday, the Tigers will travel to Peters Township, in need of a desperate conference win, to take on the Peters Township Indians (4-1, 3-1).