Friday night live blog - Pine-Richland beats NA, 28-14

Written by Mike White on .

Live Friday night blog from the Post-Gazette game of the week - North Allegheny at Pine-Richland. Besides following along the game, you can see score updates and other notes from around the WPIAL by looking at the right side of this blog and checking out the Twitter account of @PGVarsityXtra. If you have a score update, note or photo, tweet it with #wpial.


9:58 NA turns ball over on downs again Had first down once but called back on illegal formation. Fourth down and 10 at 50, Riley Trueman gains 8. 2 yards short.


NA again drove deep but turned the ball over. First down at 15. 1 yard gain on first down and 4 on second. Pass incomplete on third. Fourth down, Ethan Maenza flushed out pocket, throws back to center of field and Tommy Camino has it thrown right to him.


After NA's Mike Pope scored on 8-yard run to make it 21-14, it took Pine-Richland all of two plays to respond with 80-yard scoring drive. A 40-yard pass to Battaglia, followed by 15 yard facemask on NA. Next play Jurkovec goes 25 yards to Jordan Crawford for TD.

9:23 That first drive for NA ended by an INT at P-R 3 by sophomore Jordan Crawford.

9:21 Fourth and 1 from his own 23, Kasperowicz goes. P-R picks up first.

9:16 NA on move to start second half. At P-R 29


The score near the end of the first half on fourth down pass play was huge for NA. Tigers still in it. Defense needs to improve. 

Stats: Pine-Richland with 269 yards offense in the first half and NA with 146. Phil Jurkovec has rushed 10 times for 95 yards and also completed 9 of 16 for 98 yards and one INT.

Ethan Maenza, NA QB, has completed 7 of 14 for 103 yards and also rushed 10 times for 33 yards.


Nice answer for NA.80-yard scoring drive. It looked like the drive might be dead again. On fourth and 7, Ethan Maenza hit Matt Sell down the left sideline on 26-yard TD pass. PAT good by Mancuso.

Gives NA life. Plus Tigers get ball to start second half. 

8:34 It didn't help NA cause that it fumbled at Pine-Richland 5-yard line when score was 7-0. Huge.

Riley Trueman has played only few plays at QB for NA. Ethan Maenza has played. Trueman, the starter until an injury last week against Seneca, is playing defense.


Sorry for delays. Internet problems here. Pine-Richland has been in control most of the way Phil Jurkovec's first big game as sophomore QB for Pine-Richland and he has been impressive. But really no surprise. Athletic ability is his most impressive thing.

Excellent runner and that arm is pretty dang good for a sophomore. Division I prospect? Unquestionably. Don't forget basketball star also. 

Jurkovec has two TD runs of 32 and 12 yards. Jimmy Graf just ran 14 yards for TD and Pine-Richland leads 21-0 with 3:59 left in half.


Central Catholic seems to be everyone's pick as the team to beat in the Northern Eight Conference. The winner of this game very well could be next in line.

Pine-Richland won in overtime last year. Pretty much nobody expects the Rams to be as good this year. They simply lost too many key players. But don't kid yourself. The Rams still have talent.

This game might go a ways in establishing an identity for the winner. This is the first big game for Pine-Richland sophomore starting QB Phil Jurkovec. How will he fare? North Allegheny QB Riley Trueman was injured in the second half of last week's opener. Will he play? Even if he does, will North Allegheny have a passing game?

A key to the game will be line play and whether North Allegheny can bottle up Jurkovec and keep him from making plays with his running.



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Martian starring Matt Damon reaches for the stars and succeeds

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .




damonsmiling1Ridley Scott has a theory of directing:  “I cast great and I let ’em loose.”

Boy does that work with “The Martian,” a movie that should be an audience and critical favorite with a cast that’s diverse in age, race, ethnicity and gender. Matt Damon is an astronaut whose gut is pierced by an antenna during a massive storm on Mars, believed dead by his fellow crew members and left behind.

But, as the poster proclaims, “Bring Him Home” is the goal – perhaps impossible – of NASA back on Earth. It takes global cooperation, ingenuity, an unwillingness to give up, a spirit of rebellion and sacrifice and even a potato patch which was actually planted on a nearby soundstage to provide the veggies that are grown indoors

chastain350Damon, at a packed press conference today with enough cast and crew to populate two rows on the small stage, said screenwriter Drew Goddard described it to him as a “love letter to science.” It’s based on the novel by Andy Weir and also stars Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Bridges, Michael Pena, Kate Mara and others.   

A reporter who said she had been covering the Syrian refugee crisis said she had been struck by a line in the trailer that says, “Every human being has a basic human instinct to help each other out,” asked Damon if some of that sentiment is missing here on Earth.

“It can certainly feel like it, reading the newspaper, but look, that’s a reason to put this out there for us. It’s a really optimistic and hopeful movie and sometimes, that’s our job is to put something like that out in the middle of really tough times,” Damon said, and maybe the uplift will catch on.

Ejiofor chimed in about the sentiment of “The Martian” and how it represents the better part of our nature.

“I have to say, it was quite a shock, too, looking at that one picture of the migrant flow across the Chain Bridge in Budapest, which is right where we shot this movie,” Damon, clad in a black shirt and trousers, said. “The view from the hotel is the Chain Bridge, so to see thousands upon thousands of people walking to Austria from there, having just been there six or eight months ago, was really arresting for me.”

That was a rare serious moment in a press conference that touched on Scott’s childhood love for Westerns and their themes of man against the odds or nature (and how he once wanted to be a cowboy) and the ability to reach for the stars on the stage. “I don’t really want to go to space but I want to pretend to,” Chastain, who gets to appear to float and swim through space, said.

Damon is on screen alone for much of the movie, which cuts to Earth and the manned mission with the remainder of his crewmates.

“There was a really wonderful script there and the story cut back a lot to all these great actors doing really exciting things so I didn’t feel like I was going to bore anybody to tears ‘cause if I started to do that, we could always cut back to the other story going on. so I had that going for me.”

Trust me, he doesn’t bore anyone to tears. And neither does the movie. 

 Photos: Wire Image/Getty for TIFF 

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Former Panthers recall their Backyard Brawl memories

Written by Sam Werner on .

What-else-is-newIn case you spent all day yesterday under a rock, Pitt and West Virginia announced that their rivalry, the famous "Backyard Brawl" would resume for a four-game series from 2022-25. Yes, it's seven years out, but one of the most heated rivalries in college football is coming back. I caught up with a few former Pitt players who played important roles in the Brawls of yore to get their thoughts on the series coming back, as well as their memories from the games they played against West Virginia...

- Former quarterback Pat Bostick (now Pitt's radio color commentator) played in four Backyard Brawls — 2007 (we'll get to that one later), 2008, 2009 and 2010. With the exception of the 2010 game, all were decided by four points or less.
"Just crazy atmospheres, a lot on the line, pride, the Big East was kind of resting in the balance of that game for a number of years," Bostick said.
Former linebacker Scott McKillop (now a graduate assistant for Pitt) also played four games against WVU. He remembers that walking into Mountaineer Field was always different than going to any other road stadium.
"It is very, very different," he said. "You don't want to say it, but it is a pure hatred from West Virginia fans to Pitt fans and vice versa whenever they're here and we're there. It's a pure hatred amongst Pitt players by West Virginia fans, and by Pitt fans at West Virginia players when they're at Heinz Field."

- Bostick also recalled the week leading up to the game as a special one. Former coach Dave Wannstedt used to play "Country Roads" all week during practice.
"You were so sick of hearing that song that you were hoping not to hear it again, especially if you were playing down in Morgantown," Bostick said. "Because if you hear it again, the game didn’t go the way you wanted to.
"That drive up I-79, I remember how good it felt after a win and how bad it felt after a loss. It brings back a lot of really good memories."

- For everyone I talked to, one of the biggest factors in the rivalry was how well they knew the players on the other sideline. West Virginia typically used to draw a bunch of players from Western Pennsylvania, so often this game pitted high school teammates and rivals against each other.
"It was a game that was pretty much like a state rivalry game, just because they're so close and a lot of the players that did go to West Virginia are from the state of Pennsylvania or Ohio, or relatively close," former Pitt quarterback Pete Gonzalez said. "It's a physical game, it's a brawl, it's a knock-out type of fight.
Gonzalez was a Miami native who came north to play for the Panthers, but recalled how closely everyone knew each other.
"You had guys that played at McKeesport, you had guys that played at North Hills," he said. "All the guys played in high school [together]. On the weekends, we would go down to West Virginia and party. They'd come up here to Pittsburgh and party. It was like an inter-squad type of game. You didn't want your friends to beat you. It was tough. There were some tough battles."
McKillop, too, liked playing against familiar faces.
"I just think the fact that I knew most of the players on the team," he said. "A lot of the kids on West Virginia's team were kids I played against in high school. The familiarity of the players and just being able to talk smack for whoever wins the game."
And even though the players knew each other, it wasn't always in a friendly manner.
"Just a lot of guys that knew each other and sometimes — most of the time — didn't always like each other," Bostick said. "That, to me, was what was awesome about it."

- The rivalry has had a few great moments for Pitt throughout it's history, so let's get to those. First, 4th-and-17 in 1997.
The Mountaineers came into the game 7-3, led by future NFL quarterback Marc Bulger. They led by three in triple-overtime, and Pitt faced a 4th-and-17 at the West Virginia 32-yard line.
"I remember [coach] Walt [Harris] calling me to the sidelines and we talked about what we were thinking and what he was thinking," Gonzalez, Pitt's quarterback in that game, said. "He basically said, 'Hey, go out there and execute what you see.'
"We went out there, I remember the safeties dropping, the field opening up, me throwing the ball and seeing Jake Hoffart jump about three feet in the air to catch the ball."
Gonzalez hit Hoffart for a 20-yard completion, and two plays later, hit Terry Murphy for a 12-yard pass that gave the Panthers the win.
"I think the best memory is that a bunch of guys that nobody thought could win the game came together and as a team and a senior class, we were able to do what nobody thought we could do," Gonzalez said. "We beat West Virginia in their backyard."

- OK, let's talk about 13-9. It's the final week of the 2007 season, West Virginia is No. 2 in the country and on the cusp of playing for a national championship. I'll let Bostick, then a true freshman quarterback, take it away from there.
BOSTICK: "It was nuts. I was 18 years old. To be down there, it was surreal. It was gloomy, dark. They were on the cusp of going to the national championship game. Really, what they had done with that program, and Rich Rodriguez, they were unbelievably talented. I knew we had a huge task in front of us. I just didn’t want to make a fool out of myself, playing against a team that good."
Pitt struggled to get its offense going, but, more significantly, their defense was able to shut down the Mountaineers' high-powered attack. Pitt took a 10-7 lead on a Bostick sneak with 9:48 left in the third quarter, and added a Conor Lee field goal in the fourth quarter.
BOSTICK: "As the game wore on, you start to believe more and more like you've got a chance to win it. There wasn't an empty seat in the place, it was freezing cold, it was physical, there was talk. I had never played in an environment that was that intense, and we were a 4-7 team."
With the Mountaineers unable to score, Pitt took a safety as the clock expired to etch "13-9" into Pitt lore.
BOSTICK: "At the end of the day, for that place to be quiet, to hear a pin drop, to go down the bus and once again, play "Country Roads" the whole way home, going through the Fort Pitt tunnel."
McKillop had nine tackles in the game, including a big fourth-down stop of WVU running back Steve Slaton late in the fourth quarter. He said the most memorable part of the game was celebrating in the locker room with his teammates afterwards.
MCKILLOP: "The locker room, the sense of joy and excitement that we finally came together and we finally played the game we knew we were capable of, regardless of our record. It all came together, coach Wannstedt getting the contract extension before the game and just everything during that game was perfect. It just played out the way we needed it to. Us in the locker room, just celebrating. I know after every game we sing the fight song, but truly after that game, it seemed like it was just so much more special.
"If you look up Rich Rod's press conference, he's at a loss for words and in the background you can hear us going crazy in the locker room, celebrating. Yeah, we didn't have a good season that year, but that game was our bowl game. We knew it and that's how we prepared for everything leading up to that game."

- The Brawl is also a little more complicated now for McKillop, whose wife, Lauren, is a WVU graduate and niece of prominent WVU donor Ben Statler. He said she was the first person he called after he got news that the game was back on.
"I know how serious her family is, she knows how serious my family is," he said. "That was one of the first things when we were together was the constant bickering between why Pitt's better or why West Virginia's better. I think it finally laid off, but now with the game being back on the schedule, it's going to be definitely a house divided."
The couple doesn't have children yet, but if there are little McKillops running around by 2022, Scott is going to try his hardest to have them in Pitt blue and gold for the Brawl.
"I know to the best of my ability I'm definitely going to try to raise them pro-Pitt, but I know what she'll be doing as well, though," he said. "That'll be another ongoing battle that we have."

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Noah Bendix-Balgley officially leaving PSO

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Noah Bendix-Balgley, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's terrific concertmaster since 2011, has officially put in his notice that he'll be leaving the PSO for the Berlin Philharmonic.

The violinist won Berlin's first concertmaster job in February 2014, but divided his time last season between the Pittsburgh and Germany posts. The PSO expects to form a committee and begin the process of finding his replacement this fall, according to Louise Sciannameo, vice president of public affairs. In any case, he will perform a few times in Heinz Hall this season. He's also featured in a Chamber Music Pittsburgh concert with pianist Orion Weiss in November

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Gillette Stadium Cell Plan

Written by Dan Gigler on .

One must wonder if they didn't do this simply to spitefully thumb their nose at the rest of the league. Either way. more brilliance from Benstonium

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