BUTLER TWP —
Tim Vernick scored the game's first points on a 30-yard interception return and Damien Pickett had 29 carries for 276 yards — a possible school record — and two touchdowns as the Golden Tornado defeated
“I know it's traditional stuff, but if you can play solid defense, run the football and control the clock, you can be successful in this sport,”
“I'm proud of these kids. I want them to enjoy this. I know how hard they've worked for it.”
“They won the line of scrimmage and that won them the game,”
“We figured them to be a physical team and they sure were.”
The Tornado (1-1) had a 14-0 lead before the Highlanders (1-1) registered a first down.
Following Vernick's pick-six,
Before either team scored, the Tornado defense overcame a bad snap that sailed over punter Devin Fitz's head for a 30-yard loss. Fitz covered the ball at his own 14-yard line.
On fourth-and-2 from the 6, Highlander quarterback Doug Altavilla was gang-tackled a yard short of the sticks.
“A stand close to your own goal-line like that is big anytime,”
Altavilla, a fourth-year starter, began hitting some passes and
led his team on a 10-play, 80-yard drive late in the first half, throwing his
first of three touchdown passes to younger brother Nick Altavilla.
Doug Altavilla ultimately threw for 230 yards and the touchdown strikes of 26, 57 and 5 to his brother, who had eight catches for 135 yards.
But that production wouldn't be enough.
Fitz drilled a 37-yard field goal early in the third period for a 17-7 Tornado lead.
On successive Tornado possessions, Pickett carried the ball 11 times out of 12 plays, including touchdown runs of 46 yards and 1 yard.
The latter score opened up a 31-14 lead with left and ended the competitive portion of the game.
“That was all our line,” Pickett said of his performance. “They were opening up holes and I was getting through them.”
“Yeah, that was fun,” Pickett said. “Running behind those guys was a blast.”
“Moving people back the way we were ... That felt incredible,” Gengler enthused. “We came out here wanting to play physical and we have to keep playing that way.”
“We will be out-sized by most teams we play. We were out-sized tonight,” the coach said. “We just brought the physicality.
“I didn't think they could run on us because they run a zone-blocking scheme and we cover the gaps well. We ran around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off trying to contain that quarterback, but we got the job done.”
Gengler batted down a fourth-down pass at the
“This win should shoot our confidence way up,” Pickett said.