Central Cambria turns takeaways into points, tops Greater Johnstown

Sep. 16—EBENSBURG — Both teams were plagued by numerous mistakes in Friday night's Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference contest between Central Cambria and visiting Greater Johnstown, but the Red Devils were able to come up with timely plays on both sides of the ball over the final two quarters to pull away and earn a 20-0 victory.

The Trojans (0-4) committed five of the game's seven turnovers, with two of those takeaways converted into second-half touchdowns by Central Cambria (3-1) to give the Red Devils breathing room in what was a one-possession game for the better part of three quarters.

"Hats off to Johnstown," Central Cambria coach Don Fyfe said. "They played so hard, they are starting to get it together.

We weren't clicking, but a lot of that was due to how well Johnstown played."

An all-around effort by Central Cambria junior Grady Snyder sparked the Red Devils. Snyder rushed for a game-high 77 yards and one touchdown, caught a 36-yard touchdown pass, and had an interception from his safety position on defense.

"We started off slow and didn't look too good, but we stepped it up in the second half, did what we needed to do, and got it done," Snyder said.

In addition to four interceptions and one lost fumble, Greater Johnstown was also called for nine penalties for 94 yards, with several of those infractions wiping out promising offensive drives.

"Penalties and mistakes, the guys got to clean that up," said Trojans coach Antwuan Reed.

Greater Johnstown faced additional adversity when starting running back Conseer Baxter and quarterback Julias Reed missed significant time due to injuries.

"We had some key guys go down early and had to have some more young guys step up and play," Coach Reed said.

The Trojans looked to grab an early lead when an efficient drive highlighted by runs of 19 and 12 yards by Baxter and Raheem Durant, and a 13-yard pass from Reed to Alvin Keith led to a first down at the Central Cambria 11. However, back-to-back holding penalties pushed the Trojans back out of the red zone, and the series ended with Ian Estep's end-zone interception to keep Greater Johnstown off the board.

Central Cambria got a break to open the scoring midway through the second quarter after an errant Trojan punt snap was downed at the Greater Johnstown 5-yard line. Two plays later, Snyder found the end zone from 9 yards out and Jack Muldoon added the extra point to make it 7-0.

That margin held until the third quarter. After the Red Devils came up empty in the red zone following a fumble at the Trojans' 12, four plays later, Brayden Blasko returned the favor with a fumble recovery to set Central Cambria up at the Greater Johnstown 36.

Hunter Pittsinger then completed his first pass of the game on the next snap, a touchdown strike to Snyder.

"We saw what they were doing defensively, and tried to take what they were giving us," Fyfe said. "So we tried a couple of shots down the field."

Snyder subsequently picked off a Greater Johnstown pass midway through the final quarter and returned it into Trojan territory, which set up Pittsinger's second scoring pass of the night, a 24-yard touchdown toss to Estep that effectively put the game in hand with 5:32 remaining.

"We've got to keep working and pushing through to turn that corner," Coach Reed said.

Greater Johnstown hosts Westmont Hilltop next Friday, while the Red Devils host Penn Cambria in the annual Goal Post Trophy game.