Gators rout Penn Hills, 45-7
Gateway's Cameron Saddler dives into the end zone for the Gators' first touchdown in the first quarter against Penn Hills last night.
Gateway's James Wilson sacks Penn Hills quarterback Tom Fulton in the first quarter.
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Four plays -- that's all it took.
In four plays, everyone saw the off-the-charts capabilities of Gateway speedster Cameron Saddler.
In four plays, Gateway took a one-touchdown lead.
In four plays, the rout was on.
In four plays, the Gators proved they were, far and above, the premier team in the WPIAL Class AAAA Big East Conference as they roared to a 45-7 win against visiting Penn Hills (3-4, 2-1) last night at Antimarino Stadium.
Gateway's first drive encompassed four plays, and about the only thing the No. 3-ranked Gators (6-1, 3-0), who clinched a playoff spot, did wrong all night was throw an incomplete pass on their first offensive snap.
From there, everything clicked masterfully as Saddler ripped off a 63-yard run on the game's second snap, followed that up with a 6-yard run and then scored on the next play, a 17-yard touchdown jaunt.
That quickly, about three minutes in, the scoreboard could have read: Cameron Saddler 7, Penn Hills 0.
It was the first of Saddler's four touchdowns and truth is, right then and there, Penn Hills' chances evaporated into the crisp, chilly night as Saddler kept going and going all the way to 138 yards rushing; 124 of those came in the first half.
Saddler had been hobbled by a hamstring injury sustained in a Week 1 loss in Ohio, but last night he looked his usual self as he darted hashmark to hashmark, juked defenders out of their shoes and, when the clearing presented itself, hit a gear few high schoolers can reach.
"This was the first time, other than the first game, that I was at 100 percent," Saddler said. "I took a pregame carry and [Gateway coach Terry Smith] said, 'Cam, you look like you are at 100 percent, let's see what we can do with you today.' "
Just under three minutes later, Saddler showed again exactly what he could do as he helped propel the lead to 14-0, reeling in a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Robby Kalkstein.
The Gators' advantage expanded to 17-0 in the second quarter on a 43-yard field goal by Ryan Lichtenstein before Saddler found the end zone yet again in the first half, this time from 10 yards.
The lead ballooned to 31-0 just before halftime, when Gateway's Brian Williams scooped up a fumble and scored from 20 yards.
Want an example of how seemingly insurmountable Gateway's 31-point halftime lead was?
The Penn Hills coaching booth, which was inhabited by two coaches and a statistics keeper in the first half, went from three bodies to one in the second half. The two Penn Hills coaches who previously had nestled into the booth didn't even bother to come upstairs in the second half, in which Saddler tacked on another 1-yard score and Jeff Parrish returned an interception 31 yards for the final Gateway score.
Penn Hills' score came in the fourth, on a 3-yard Teddy Blakeman run.
But long before that Blakeman run materialized, Penn Hills was felled by a gaggle of crushing blows.
The thing about this Gateway team is, it isn't just Saddler. He might stir the drink, but there's also brute linebacker-fullback Shayne Hale, the strong-armed Kalkstein, and the bullishly stout Leon Green, who can line up anywhere from quarterback to the slot or H-back. And, don't forget receiver Corey Brown, a stallion of a specimen who pulled in three passes for 107 yards.
"It has got to be hard to defend us," Saddler said. "I can't imagine having to do it."
Penn Hills coach Neil Gordon was faced with trying to defend the multi-pronged attack, and after his team was dismantled he found the words to express just how hard it is to prepare for Gateway.
"So many athletes, so many weapons, and they can do so many things," said Gordon, who led his team to the WPIAL title game last year. "Terry Smith has kids on his team who can get to the outside and run past you. Then, he also has a quarterback who can throw it and kids who will go up and catch it, and his kicking game is fantastic. If they stay healthy, they are going to be a handful."
First Published October 13, 2007 1:03 am