ADAMS TWP — Sometimes what's old is new again.
The Mars Planets were hoping to open up their offense to more passing this season, but Friday night they returned to their old-fashioned running game.
Sophomore Evan Wright rushed for 190 yards on 26 carries, including scoring runs of 61 and 15 yards.
Still, Mars could not hold back a powerful New Castle offense in a 40-14 non-conference setback at the Mars Athletic Complex. The Planets fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2003.
The Red Hurricane displayed plenty of offense as well as quarterback Chris Hood rushed for 169 yards on 14 carries and passed for another 69. His keeper from four yards out midway through the first quarter staked New Castle to a 7-0 lead. Then he hit Tayshaun Wilkins in-stride for a 30-yard scoring play just two minutes later.
Mars had opportunities to answer right back. The Planets were driving when quarterback Rafael Bartley heaved the ball toward the end zone, only to be intercepted by Wilkins right at the goal line.
Another drive took the Planets down to the New Castle 5-yard line, but they came up empty again. A touchdown then would have cut the deficit in half.
“If you put it in there, the game changes,” Mars coach Scott Heinaurer said. “If you drive the ball downfield and can't punch it in, those are mistakes that young teams make.
“If you don't do those things, you can't win football games,” he added.
After New Castle went up 33-0, the Planets started have some success. Early in the fourth quarter, Wright found a hole and outran the New Castle defense. He was tripped up at the goal line, but managed to dive into the end zone to complete his 61-yard run.
Only three minutes later, Wright fought his way up the middle on a 15-yard scoring play.
“My linemen did great,” Wright said. “They picked (their defense) up. They helped me a lot. And eventually they helped me get into the end zone a couple of times.”
Heinauer had praise for his sophomore running back.
“He's a great player, there's no question about that. He's only going to get better,” the coach said.
But asked if he thought Mars would be running more again in the near future, the coach said: “We will do whatever works best. Not that we plan to run the ball more. We will take whatever they give us.”
Mars opens Greater Allegheny Conference play next Friday, hosting Highlands.
New Castle 13 8 6 13 — 40
Mars 0 0 0 14 — 14
NC — Chris Hood 4 run (Angel Porras kick), 7:01
NC — Tayshaun Wilkins 9 pass from Hood (kick failed), 5:08
NC — Braylen Sibley 20 run (Tyler Leekins pass from Hood), 2:31
NC — Hood 42 run (kick failed), :24
NC — Mike Wells 25 interception return (run failed), 11:51
M — Evan Wright 61 run (Eli Wright kick), 11:31
NC — Owen Ciavarino 17 run (Porras kick), 10:31
M — Evan Wright 15 run (Eli Wright kick), 8:41
Rushing: New Castle, Chris Hood 14-169, Kaevon Gardner 10-49, Braylen Sibley 5-68. Mars, Evan Wright 26-190, Rafael Bartley 5-21.
Passing: New Castle, Chris Hood 5-10-69-0. Mars, Rafael Bartley 3-9-26-2.
Receiving: New Castle, Owen C iavarino 2-20, Tyler Leekins 3-23. Mars, Chris Dvorak 3-11, Aiden Alessio 1-10, Billy Sommers 1-5.