Defense sparks Piedmont win
By David Schoen, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 09/29/2007 02:35:40 AM PDT
PIEDMONT — The A-11 offense gets most of the publicity for the Piedmont High football team, but for one night at least, it was the Highlanders' defense that deserved a little bit of love.
The Highlanders held visiting St. Mary's offense in check and Alexander Menke picked off a pass with 2:03 left to preserve Piedmont's 21-14 win Friday night in a Bay Shore Athletic League opener. "Our defense has been solid every week," said Piedmont quarterback Jeremy George, who threw for 155 yards and added 60 on the ground while having a hand in all three of his team's touchdowns. "Every week, we can count on them."
St. Mary's (2-2 overall, 0-1 BSAL) gained only 176 total yards but managed to hang close. Menke dropped the snap on a punt attempt to give St.Mary's possession at the Highlanders' 47, and St. Mary's needed just three plays to pull within 21-14 on Oshoke Maiki's 6-yard run with 6:21 left in the game. However, Piedmont (2-2, 1-0) chewed up most of the remaining time with a 12-play drive, eventually turning the ball over on downs.
On the Panthers' first play afterward, Menke intercepted a Jelani Rivera pass, and Piedmont was able to close it out.
"It's been a real challenge for us to be a consistent offense, and that was the story again tonight," Panthers coach Bert Bertero said. "We're hitting and missing. It's not clicking in the manner we would like, and it's frustrating."
Piedmont's A-11 offense, in which every player can become an eligible receiver, put together an impressive first half. The Highlanders opened with a nine-play drive that culminated in George's 1-yard pass to Joey Holland for a 7-0 lead 4:06 into the game.
St. Mary's took advantage of an interception by Jason Shaw to tie the game on a 13-yard strike from Rivera to Justin Shields with 2:49 left in the first quarter. But the Highlanders took control in the second quarter. George scooted 13 yards for a touchdown with 7:04 to go in the quarter, then guided an impressive 16-play drive that included three key third-down conversions. It culminated when he found Ryan Lipkin alone in with a 4-yard touchdown past just 21.4 seconds before halftime.
"That was our best drive of the year," Highlanders coach Kurt Bryan said. "We're still figuring things out on the offensive side of the ball. Fortunately, we got two big plays and (three) key first downs and it went our way."