Falcons top PA in opener
With starting running back Timmy Buda injuring his ankle a couple days before Friday’s season opener and playing at less than 100 percent, Salisbury junior running back Chad Parton felt an extra need to step up. And he did in a big way.
Parton scored three touchdowns—one each on offense, defense and special teams—as Salisbury (1-0) pulled away in the second half for a 25-16 win over Pen Argyl (0-1) on the Falcons’ home turf on Friday night.
“We’ve been working really hard and put in a lot of work,” Parton said. “Our offensive line did a great job today. As a team, I just think we’re playing really well. Out of all my three years, this is probably the best team we’ve had chemistry-wise.”
“Chad is a fantastic athlete,” Falcon head coach Andy Cerco said. “He’s coachable. He shows up every day. He’s accountable to his teammates. He does what he is asked to do. He’s got a great football IQ.”
All three of his scores came at crucial moments for the Falcons.
His first may have been the most important. Pen Argyl was in the midst of a seven-play drive to open the game and had just passed midfield. But on a third-down run, Parton ripped the ball out of a Green Knight ball carrier’s hands and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Green Knights had an answer. Faced with a fourth down in Salisbury’s red zone, Conor Fehr scored on a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 4:22 remaining in the opening quarter. Gavin Amerman, who finished with a game-high 113 rushing yards, recorded 52 of those on one carry on Pen Argyl’s scoring drive.
“In the first half, I don’t think we were hitting that hard,” Parton said. “We weren’t running to the ball. In the second half, we came out flying to the ball.”
After the Falcons struggled on their first two offensive possessions, Parton came to the rescue. He returned a punt 80 yards to the end zone that put Salisbury back in front, but a blocked extra point left its lead at 13-7 late in the half.
Pen Argyl drove right down the field on its next possession. The Green Knights capped an eight-play, 62-yard drive with an Amerman two-yard touchdown run as time expired for a 14-13 lead.
“That’s the ebb and flow of a football game,” Cerco said. “Things are good, then things are down. Good and bad things happen in every football game, just as in life.”
The Falcons looked like a completely different team coming out of halftime on both sides of the ball. After just nine offensive plays in the first half—their longest going for 10 yards—the big-play ability was evident early in the third quarter.
Quarterback Trey Weber hit a wide-open Parton for a 78-yard touchdown on the second play of the half that put the Falcons back on top. Another missed extra point, however, would hold Salisbury’s lead at 19-14.
Following a three-and-out from Pen Argyl, Salisbury’s passing attack was back at it once again. Weber, who completed 9-of-10 passes for 164 yards, hit on connected on three straight passes to Kyle Pingarelli then found Weston Schaffer for a 32-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 25-14.
“The whole second half our defense played outstanding,” Parton said. “Our coaches just said that we were going to throw the ball on them because they couldn’t stop the pass. So we threw the ball. We threw it short and it opened up deep, and that opened up the run game.”
Parton certainly had his share of scoring moments in the Falcons’ opener. But a number of other players had memorable showings on the defensive side of the ball, too.
Pen Argyl would get within 25-16 after recording a safety of Kyle Killiri in Salisbury’s end zone. But Killiri would come up with two key stops on the Green Knights’ next drive that could have cut Salisbury’s lead even more. He and Ben Krauss combined for an open-field tackle of Fehr to force a Green Knight fourth down and punt.
Salisbuy got the ball back with minutes remaining and ran out the clock.
“Our kids are capable football players,” Cerco said. “They can compete in any game that we play. I think that was demonstrated tonight. It starts with their brotherhood because we overcame a lot. We talk to them all the time about how we see obstacles as opportunities. They really buy into that and believe it.”