Call it 0-for-September.
No one has scored on the Upper St. Clair High varsity football team during September 2013, and no one will. The Panthers' next game is on Oct. 4 following their fourth straight shutout on Friday night—a 44-0 drubbing at Baldwin High School.
The WPIAL AAAA Southeastern Conference win ups Upper St. Clair's record this year to 5-0, all conference wins, with a non-conference game against Butler Area High School set for next Friday at USC at 7:30 p.m.
"That's a premier program," Baldwin High's first-year Head Coach Peter Wagner said following Friday night's loss in which the Panthers outgained the Highlanders, 477-78. "It was important for us to get out in front, and we had some opportunities early on. Once again, we just didn't make them happen, so we gotta get back to the grind and get better at the little things and focus on what we need to do."
The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, did the little things and the big things right against the Highlanders, especially their big people. USC's offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage, resulting in 347 rushing yards on 42 carries for the Panthers and just 19 yards on 16 carries for Baldwin.
Senior running back Trevor Morrow, who, along with fellow senior RB Mac Pope makes up both halves of the Panthers' self-proclaimed "Bash Brothers" rushing attack, benefited most from the line play.
"He's been a workhorse for us," USC's Head Coach Jim Render said of Morrow, who rushed 19 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Though, the venerable coach also pointed out the team's depth at RB.
"But we've got several backs that can carry the thing," Render said.
To that end, Pope picked up 85 yards on seven carries, including three TDs. And five other players carried the ball at least twice for the Panthers, including senior Morgan Lee, who ran twice for 13 yards, including the game's opening score with 43 seconds left in the first quarter.
"It wasn't just one individual," Morrow said. "It's when the whole offense works together that really big runs are produced."
Morrow had one of those big runs, a 63-yarder in the second quarter. Pope addded a 47-yarder later in that quarter, and USC senior quarterback Joe Repischak scrambled for 49 yards in the third.
Repischak also hooked up with junior RB Mike Krenn on a 54-yard catch-and-run in the first. The senior QB finished with 120 yards on 6-of-12 passing but was intercepted twice.
Senior utilityman Luke Smorey had one of those picks for Baldwin (2-3 overall, 2-3 Southeastern). Down 20-0 late in the first half, Smorey collected a Repischak pass at the Baldwin 8-yard line and returned it 72 yards to the Panthers 20.
A roughing-the-passer penalty then moved the ball to the 10, but a Baldwin penalty backed it to the 17. Junior QB Doug Altavilla then tried three straight passes to Smorey for a TD that would have gotten Baldwin back into the game, but it was not meant to be.
The Highlanders settled for a 34-yard field-goal try, but junior Prajal Sharma's kick was short.
Following halftime, the Panthers added the game's final 24 points on three TDs and a late field goal.
"We're gonna go watch film," said Altavilla, who went 10-for-29 passing against the Panthers for 45 yards. He was also intercepted twice. "We're gonna take every quarter step by step, watch every single play, what we did wrong, what we could do differently, because other teams are gonna do similar things to us, see how they were stopping things. We'll learn what was open, what we could have done differently, things like that."
The Highlanders play at Woodland Hills next Friday night at 7:30 with a chance to add a third conference win and keep battling for a playoffs spot.
"We've been looking forward to this game (against Woodland Hills) since last year when one of our great friends, Jay Morrison, got hurt," Altavilla said.
Morrison, then a junior defensive back for Baldwin, was injured badly in the Highlanders' 2012 loss against Woodland Hills and hasn't returned to playing football.
"Everybody's gonna be excited for that game," Altavilla said. "It's a rivalry game I would say."
For Upper St. Clair, the challenge against Butler next week will be maintaining focus during the Panthers' first and only non-conference game of the season.
"They (his players) got Bethel Park the week after," Render acknowledged, "so yes, it (focus) could be a little bit of a problem."
Added Morrow, though, "We always say, 'Take it one week at a time,' and that's what we're doing."