Flames go cold against Steel Valley Ironmen

Someone once said, “You’re never as good as you think you are when you’re playing well and you’re not as bad as they think you are when you’re playing poorly.” Let’s just hope that is the situation following the Northgate Flames football team’s second overwhelming loss of the season last Friday at Steel Valley.

The Flames were powerless in stopping Steel Valley’s ground game, which accumulated 316 yards. They picked up their second consecutive defeat as they were pounded by the Ironmen 47-19.

After the game, coach Mike Pipak said, “We couldn’t stop them. We tried everything and we just couldn’t get it going.”

Northgate started the game on offense and tried to strike quickly with quarterback Joe Barker’s first down pass heaved deep down the middle of the field. That pass, unfortunately, was intercepted to start Steel Valley’s offense on their own 30-yard line.

The Ironmen completed an 11-play drive that included one pass play with a quarterback keeper from 2 yards out for the touchdown, followed by the kick to lead 7-0 at the 6:02 mark of the first quarter.

Although the Flames followed with a three-and-out possession, they did manage to get the ball back thanks to a big hit by defensive end Josh Dunn, who crashed into the Ironmen quarterback and forced a fumble that Northgate recovered on the Steel Valley 19.

The Flames committed their second turnover with a lost fumble before the Ironmen lost possession with an interception by Mark Wilson that helped set up Northgate’s first score. A couple of runs by Pat Carr, along with Barker’s pass completion to Josh Schultheis for 16 yards, helped advance the ball before Joe Ellis took a pitch 17 yards around the left side for the touchdown. Carr converted the extra point kick to pull the Flames even at 7-7 with one minute gone by in the second quarter.

The rest of the period belonged to Steel Valley.

While the Flames struggled with two three-and out possessions offensively in the period, the Ironmen converted all three of their possessions for scores to take control of the game.

They followed Northgate’s touchdown with a four-play drive that included a 44-yard pass that set up a 4-yard run for a TD and extra point kick to lead 14-7. A 10-play drive that included nine runs ended with a 12-yard TD run and kick to put the Ironmen in front 21-7. Steel Valley finished the first half with a 9-yard QB scramble for a TD to give the Ironmen 198 yards rushing and a 27-7 lead going into halftime.

Steel Valley put this game away in the third with three consecutive possessions resulting in touchdowns.

The first was a 5-yard TD run, which was followed by a 57-yard TD run and then a 32-yard TD run that put the mercy rule in affect with Steel Valley leading 47-7 with 7:31 to go in the third quarter.

Carr scored from one yard out to put the score at 47-13 to end the period before Ellis added an 11-yard TD run in the fourth to put the final score at 47-19.

Ellis finished the game strong, compiling 151 yards on the night, including a 50-yard run before his second touchdown.

After the game Pipak said of the Ironmen, “They did a hell of a job tonight, and they executed real well.”

How will Northgate get past this loss? Pipak said, “We’re going to keep practicing hard and stay with it. We’ll work hard every week and play the whole game.”

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