CORAOPOLIS – Going one by one through the Peters Township schedule several weeks ago, Indians coach T.J. Plack casually mentioned strengths of each Class 5A Allegheny Eight Conference team.
The first thing he mentioned about Moon, the opening opponent when the calendar flipped to October, was about its big, athletic offensive and defensive lines.
He saw up close and personal just how much destruction, especially on defense, the Moon front can create.
Inside Peters Township quarterback Logan Pfeuffer’s chinstrap the entire night, the defensive front from Moon caused problems for the Indians and blemished PT’s perfect record with a 21-13 win Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
“We wanted to play our game,” said Moon coach Ryan Linn. “We look at (Peters Township), they are athletic, want to spread you out and throw it around. We want to put you in a phone booth. We took that physical nature and tried to attack them, make them uncomfortable.”
For a majority of the night, the potent Peters Township (3-1, 6-1) offense was kept in that phone booth. The Indians totaled only 205 yards. If you take away their two touchdowns, a 48-yard rushing score from Ryan Magiske and 57-yard touchdown catch by Aidan McCall, the Indians gained just 100 yards.
“It was poor execution,” Plack said. “Moon did a great job with its pass rush. They were hard to block. They were in our backfield. They had us right where they wanted us.”
Moon (3-1, 5-2) had the Indians where they hadn’t been all season – playing from behind.
After forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession, Tigers backup quarterback Tyler McGowan scrambled out of the pocket and found Jeremiah Dean for a 16-yard touchdown to give Moon a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
That vaunted Moon defensive line then extended that lead in the middle of the second quarter. With teammates pressuring Pfeuffer, defensive tackle Brenden Luffy had a pass fall into his belly and he rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown to double the Tigers’ lead to 14-0.
“We tried to get (Logan) going with the quick game,” Plack said. “We weren’t doing a good job of protecting our quarterback. We tried to get him going with the quick game but they were knocking balls down. They made plays and we didn’t.”
Peters Township’s offense finally awoke when Magiske followed a pulling guard for a 48-yard touchdown with 1:39 left in the first half to trim the deficit to 14-7. Until that point, the Indians had only 63 yards of offense.
Magiske ran for 119 yards on 20 carries.
McGowan, a sophomore in only his second varsity start, put Moon up 21-7 with 3:31 left in the third quarter when he found tight end Dalton Dobyns on a three-yard bootleg touchdown pass.
McGowan completed 9 of 17 passes for 114 yards and the two scores.
“He is just really cool (in the pocket),” Linn said. “He made some great, clutch throws.”
After McCall’s touchdown with 8:31 remaining in regulation, which trimmed the deficit to 21-13, Peters Township failed to move the ball. The next two possessions totaled six yards, including three incompletions and a sack on the Indians’ last chance with the ball.
Moon’s defense frustrated Pfeuffer and allowed him to complete only 11 of 28 passes for 90 yards.
“We knew he wasn’t going to run,” Linn said. “He is going to drop back and sit in his spot. I think I’d be good throwing to those receivers. He’s a great quarterback, but we were able to get him off his landmark, were at his feet and made him think. Those guys up front have been doing it all year.”