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High School Sports
Moon runs over New Castle

Sunday, September 16, 2001

By Rich Emert, Tri-State Sports & News Service

Moon Coach Mark Capuano knows the helpless feeling that settles in when his defense can't stop an opponent's running game.

"One of the most demoralizing things in the world is when a team pounds away at you," Capuano said. "And that's what we did today. We just kind of pounded away at them."

Moon did just that to New Castle in a Class AAA Parkway Conference contest yesterday at Moon Stadium. Moon (1-2, 1-0) rolled up 303 yards on the ground and finished with 365 yards total offense en route to a 41-26 victory.

The only thing the Tigers didn't do well on offense was hold onto the football. They fumbled six times, losing three.

Tailback Austin Sykes, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior, was responsible for most of the damage. He carried 29 times for 252 yards and scored five touchdowns. He would have had more yardage if New Castle had not blocked one of his punts and turned that into a 16-yard loss.

Sykes scored on runs of 11, 26, 49, 5 and 5 yards.

"I don't want to take anything away from him because he's a good back, but I think we made him look a little better than he is today," New Castle Coach Gary Schooley said. "We had guys in position we just didn't make plays on him. He'd give us a move and we'd take it or he'd slide off."

"We knew Austin could be this good but in our first two games we didn't give him much room to run," Capuano said. "That's because this was the first week we've had our starting offensive line together. Hey, if you don't have the horses to pull the cart it's not going anywhere, and that was our problem before."

New Castle (1-2, 0-1) held a 14-6 lead after Zach Mariacher scored on a 5-yard run at 11:35 of the second quarter. His run followed James Campbell's block of Sykes' punt. But Moon came right back, driving 64 yards in five plays with Sykes spinning out of a tackle and then racing 26 yards for a touchdown.

Moon went on top, 20-14, when Sykes scored on a 49-yard burst around the left side at 3:40 of the second quarter and then bolted into the end zone for the two-point conversion.

The third quarter was all Moon. New Castle took the second half kick, ran three plays and punted. The Red Hurricane didn't get the football back until there was 1:57 left in the quarter. At that point, New Castle trailed, 35-14.

Moon drove 77 yards in 12 plays for one touchdown in that time, then got the ball back when New Castle fumbled the kickoff and Josh Braendle recovered. The Tigers then went 33 yards in six plays with Sykes scoring from 5 yards out at 2:05 of the quarter.

For Moon, it was a major turnaround from last week when it lost, 41-0, to West Allegheny.

"When you get whipped like that you just have to let it go," Capuano said. "I told the players that we were starting over this week."

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