JOHNSTOWN — The Somerset varsity football showed a lot growth as a team and earned some respect across the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference in Friday night’s 21-7 loss to undefeated Greater Johnstown at Trojan Stadium.
The Eagles defense limited the Trojans’ high-powered offense to one big play and 171 yards at the half.
Gervon Simon hit a wide open Dwight Andrews behind the defense after a Somerset player fell down for a 75-yard touchdown strike. The PAT was no good for a 6-0 lead with 8:35 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles (2-3) took a 7-6 as the buzzer sounded for the end of the first half. Somerset took over the ball on the Johnstown (5-0) 38 with 1:40 remaining in the half. Two running plays and Tanner Stull to Eddie Buck 13-yard pass play set up Matt Boyer’s 23-yard touchdown run up the middle as time expired. Braiden Leazier’s PAT was good for a 7-6 advantage.
Johnstown made it 14-7 with 5:35 remaining in the third when Tim Odum took a handoff 46-yards to pay dirt after getting sprung by a block. Simon found Alkwan Williams in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion. Odum had 11 carries for 111 yards.
After the Eagles fumbled on the ensuing possession, the Trojans strung together a 10-play, 4:30 minute drive. Simon scampered around the corner and in from 5 yards out and the PAT was good for a 21-7 advantage with 11:52 left in the game.
Johnstown looked to score again on its next possession, but Brendan Urbain intercepted Simon in the end zone halting the threat.
The Eagles’ offense just couldn’t sustain a drive as passes fell incomplete and runs were limited to very short yardage late in the game.
“It was an assignment thing,” Somerset first-year head coach Bob Landis said. “We are getting better each week with this new offense and defense. I’m very proud of our effort. We played this extremely tough Johnstown team as hard as we could. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into next weeks game against Richland.”
Jett Smitt and Josh Darr had interceptions for the Eagles. Mark Watson had an interception for the Trojans.
Johnstown's Simon finished 7 of 18 for 105 yards. Stull finished 10 of 22 for 85 yards. The Trojans had 11 first downs to go with 328 yards of total offense. The Eagles had 10 first downs to go with 121 yards of total offense.
While Penna was happy with a win, he couldn’t say enough about the Eagles.
“I think kids and fans try to play these games on paper,” Penna said. “You think of history and old Somerset teams, but we knew they would be a formidable foe. You have to give the coaches a lot of credit. They did a whale of a job out here.
“I’ve been in this league all but one year of my entire coaching career and I know that Somerset is a sleeping giant. Everyone is working really hard up there and it will get back to the way it was when I played against them. You didn’t want to go up there and play.”