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Noseguard Leads the Way in Moon Victory
By Rick Smith, Nauticom Sports Network

Momentum change. Sometimes you can point at one play during a football contest that turns the game around. Moon (7-1) noseguard Dave Eicher made such a play in the Tigers' 42-13 win over Hopewell (6-2) last Friday Night at Moon Area High School Stadium.

Hopewell was trailing Moon 13-7 late in the first half of this key WPIAL Class AAA Parkway Conference battle. The Hopewell offense had moved the ball into Moon territory and was threatening to tighten the score up before the half. Vikings head coach Andy Robertson decided to use a trick play that would quickly change the game. Hopewell wingback Ryan Bokort took a reverse hand-off then stopped to pass the ball back to quarterback Chris Krayniewski. Eicher, a 6'1" 230 pound senior, stepped in to pick off the pass and rambled 60 yards to make the halftime score 19-7. The Tigers never looked back.

"I really don't remember catching it," said Eicher, "I just remember running. It was my first touchdown ever."

"You don't expect your noseguard to get the interception," said Moon head coach Mark Capuano, "He was at the right place at the right time, but the amazing thing was that he outran everybody."

"Everyone was joking with me because the concession stand is (right by the endzone)," Eicher laughed, "They all thought I was going to the concession stand!"

Moon jumped out on top on their first possession of the game as senior tailback Andre Neely raced 13 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. However, Hopewell's highly touted Wing-T running attack immediately went to work. Vikings fullback Josh Long evened things up with 2 yard touchdown plunge with 6:06 remaining in the opening quarter. Hopewell tailback Jason Burkett set things up with a 51 yard run.

Hopewell entered the game with the only WPIAL running attack that featured two backs, Long and Burkett, who both averaged over 100 yards rushing per game. Despite the loss, the dynamic duo had another big night. Long rushed for 109 yards on 15 carries and Burkett added 176 yards on 20 totes. Burkett was named the Nauticom Sports Network's Player of the Game for the Vikings.

Following the Hopewell score, Moon place kicker Doug Lewis nailed field goals of 29 and 23 yards to make the score 13-7 and set the stage for Eicher's heroics.

The second half was all Moon. Andre Neely scored his second touchdown of the evening from 37 yards out to extend the Moon lead to 26-7 with 4:27 left in the third quarter. Neely, the Tigers' leading rusher with 728 yards on the year, finished the night with 92 yards on 13 carries.

Following Doug Lewis' third field goal of the game, a 27 yarder, Moon fullback Jay Cellante, a 5'9" 205 pound senior, put things out of reach with a 30 yard touchdown scamper with 6:28 remaining in the game. Cellante led Moon with 132 yards on 10 carries. He was named the game MVP by Nauticom Sports for his efforts.

Backup running back Carl Chandler scored from a yard out for the final Moon tally with 1:26 left on the game clock. Hopewell's B.J. Samuel returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to make the final score Moon 42 Hopewell 13.

With the win, Moon moves to 6-1 in the Parkway Conference standings and clinches second place behind undefeated West Allegheny (8-0). Hopewell will have to settle for third place. Both teams have qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.

The news was not all good for Moon, however. The Tigers' two-way tackle Mickey Keene suffered a partial tear to his medial collateral ligament and will be out of action for at least three weeks. Keene, a 6'4" 260 pound senior, is a blue chip prospect and has already received full scholarship offers from Temple and Hofstra.