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Spartans Sports

Montour Beats Pine-Richland

Varsity vs Pine Richland HS on 8/29/2008
Posted Saturday, August 30, 2008 by Damon Rosol
Montour beats Pine-Richland

Saturday, August 30, 2008

But he already had done enough in the first half to put a serious cramp into the start of Pine-Richland's season.

Montour earned a 35-27 victory against visiting Pine-Richland on the shoulders of Banks, a Notre Dame recruit who rushed for four touchdowns, threw another and accumulated 166 yards passing to complement his 117 yards rushing.

"E.J. is a special player," Montour coach Lou Cerro said. "The kid comes to play each and every week. ... Everyone saw what he can do when he has the ball in his hands."

While Banks was busy zipping through Pine-Richland's defense, Rams senior quarterback Vinny Nittoli spent much of his night being evaluated by doctors after his leg was injured in the first series. Pine-Richland coach Clair Altemus said early indications are that Nittoli has a broken leg and is lost for the season.

"It is a huge loss," Altemus said. "The kids were all primed up and ready to follow him. This hurts, this really hurts."

As Pine-Richland was smarting from Nittoli's loss, they were dealt even more blows seemingly every time Banks touched the ball. Banks showcased his mixture of bullish power and burning speed on two first-quarter scores, lowering his head and dragging four defenders into the end zone from the 16 early on, then sprinting out left and beating all pursuing defenders to the pylon on a 5-yard score in the waning second of the quarter.

Those Banks touchdowns were sandwiched around a 90-yard kickoff return from Pine-Richland's Mitch Elliot to give Montour a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.

"I just had it in my mindset that every time I touched the ball, I was going to try to score," Banks said.

The Montour lead stretched further in the first half, thanks primarily to Banks. He had rushing touchdowns of 3 and 33 yards in the second quarter, and also hit Tom Birko with a 31-yard scoring strike to catapult the Spartans to a 35-14 halftime advantage.

Pine-Richland came into this season resting much of their hopes on the senior tandem of halfback Ian Hennessy and Nittoli. Just a few plays into the season, though, that 1-2 punch was sliced in half when Nittoli left with the injury. That left backup Matt Yoklic to run with the first team. Yoklic found Ben Keuthe with a 42-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but it was glaringly clear that much of the spark left Pine-Richland's offense when Nittoli was sidelined.

"When you lose a guy like that, it shows how important he really is to their offense," Cerro said. "I feel for them."

Losing Nittoli might just have put Pine-Richland into a deep enough early hole that they could never extract themselves from.

The Rams put together a charge when Hennessy pinballed in from the 1 on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut it to 35-21. What started as an innocuous late-game, too-little-too-late charge became a full-blown scare with a little less than 10 minutes left when Yoklic lined up in the slot and pulled down a 59-yard touchdown pass from Eric Kordenbrock to narrow the Montour lead to 35-27.

But Montour had a late-game stop and ground out a game-ending first down when Banks moved the sticks with under 30 seconds left.

Coming into the season, much was made of Pine-Richland moving into Class AAAA football competition. For much of last night, it was difficult to decipher which school was slated to compete with the biggest of the big boys this season as Class AAA Montour battered the Rams.

"We said we were going to bring it to them," Banks said. "And we did."

Colin Dunlap can be reached at cdunlap@post-gazette or 412-263-1459.

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