Planets roll past Moon, 51-7
ADAMS TWP — What a difference a year makes.
The Mars Planets struggled through a 2-8 season in 2021. The wins came by 14-13 over Knoch, helped by a missed extra point by the Knights, and by forfeit over Plum because of the Mustangs’ use of an ineligible player. (Plum won the actual game 29-0.)
The Moon Tigers, meanwhile, lost only in the WPIAL Class 5A final and finished 12-1.
But in sports, things are often topsy-turvy.
Moon returned only four starters from its stellar team of a year ago. The Tigers started this season at 0-4, scoring only 11 points while surrendering 130.
At Mars, enter new coach Eric Kasperowicz and a renewed winning attitude. The Fightin' Planets started 3-1 with the only blemish a one-point loss at Blackhawk.
The 2022 trend continued Friday night at the Mars Athletic Complex as the Planets tamed the Tigers, 51-7, in a non-conference matchup.
“Our kids came to play,” Mars coach Kasperowicz said. “We reacted well after that big run they had in their first drive that kind of shocked us a little bit. We faced a little adversity there and came back, made some corrections and played hard.”
Moon looked like it was going to make a game of it when quarterback Brandon Weaver jumped over a Mars defender attempting a low tackle and raced 59 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes into the game.
Surprisingly though, the Planets would go on to tally 51 unanswered points. They were led once again by junior running back Evan Wright, who amassed 136 yards on 15 carries, including scoring runs of 63 yards — when he broke through a crowd of would-be tacklers — and one yard twice.
QB Eric Kasperowicz added 74 yards rushing on six tries and 159 yards passing. The sophomore ran for a 15-yard score and connected on three touchdown passes: 71 yards to Adam Rohrbaugh, 43 yards to Nate Ewing and 19 yards to Gabe Hein.
For his touchdown, Rohrbaugh pulled in the screen pass, faked out a group of three Moon defenders and went the distance down the left sideline. QB Kasperowicz found Hein all alone in the right corner of the end zone on their scoring play. And did the same on the touchdown toss to Ewing.
Hein also picked up 50 yards rushing on a reverse that set up Wright’s one-yard score early in the second half, weaving his way through the Moon defense on his way to the long run.
Moon’s offense, it seemed, couldn’t find its way. The Tigers rotated quarterbacks Weaver and Braedon Stuart, but threw the ball only five times, and successfully a mere twice with one interception.
Moon also snapped the ball often directly to its running backs, a move that work only several times.
The Mars defense came up big by forcing three turnovers, which coach Kasperowicz called “timely.”
When Moon’s Stuart attempted a backward pass with 4:18 remaining in the half, the Planets’ Jacob Maple broke it up and Isaak Winters recovered the football. Wright scored from a yard out two plays after Hein scampered 22 yards on a reverse, giving Mars a commanding 23-7 lead.
Mars got the ball right back when Mason Childress attempted an onside kick and the ball was recovered by none other than Childress himself. Eight plays later QB Kasperowicz found a big hole up the middle for a 15-yard score on a keeper. That stretched the Mars lead to 30-7 before halftime.
Childress, who kicked a 23-yard field goal as well as six extra points, shined defensively a second time. He intercepted a pass by Stuart and returned it 25 yards, setting up the 43-yard strike from Kasperowicz to Ewing to make in 44-7 with 10:27 left in the third quarter.
“Mason has a knack for the ball,” coach Kasperowicz said. “He gets in position to make plays and he makes plays. Some kids are there and almost make them. Mason’s there and he makes them.”
Mars, now 4-1, heads into Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference play next week at Highlands, hoping the turnaround from a year ago continues.
“A lot of it is mindset,’’ coach Kasperowicz said. “A lot of it is just belief. They’re buying into what we’re selling. They’re making the culture more about the team instead of ‘I’. If you do that, good things will happen.”
Moon 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Mars 3 27 21 0 -- 51
Moon – Brandon Weaver 59 run. (Hayden Boland kick). 9:11
Mars – Mason Childress 23 FG. 3:13
Mars – Eric Kasperowicz 19 pass to Gabe Hein. (Childress kick.) 11:20
Mars – Kasperowicz 71 pass to Adam Rohrbaugh. (Kick failed.) 5:26
Mars – Evan Wright 1 run. (Childress kick.) 3:35
Mars – Kasperowicz 15 run. (Childress kick.) 1:22
Mars – Wright 1 run. (Childress kick.) 10:55
Mars – Kasperowicz 43 pass to Nate Ewing. (Childress kick.) 10:27
Mars – Wright 63 run. (Wright kick.) 4:56
Rushing: Moon, Brandon Weaver 7-48, Nazir Brookins 10-42. Mars, Wright 15-136, Kasperowicz 6-74, Hein 2-72, Joseph Zottola 2-21.
Passing: Moon, Braedon Stuart 2-4-13-1. Mars, Kasperowicz 6-11-159-0.
Receiving: Moon, Jacob D’Aniello 1-10. Mars, Rohrbaugh 2-77, Hein, 2-34, Ewing 1-43, Noah Nesselroad 1-16.