CAIRNBROOK – Early on, it looked as though Meyersdale was going to mow down the youthful Shade squad, scoring the first four touchdowns on Friday night in a WestPAC clash.
While the Red Raiders with their stellar rushing ability and tough defense held the host Panthers in check, Shade finally got its offense in gear late in the first half, but Meyersdale kept pouring it on in a 42-19 victory over the Panthers to start the season at 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
“Hats off to Coach (Don) Fyfe and Shade tonight, they kept things close,” Meyersdale coach Ryan Donaldson said. “We knew that we were going to see a better ball team this week and that’s exactly what happened.”
Red Raiders running back Devin Kretchman scored four touchdowns and rushed for 170 yards on 17 carries, also returning a kickoff 81 yards down to the Shade 1 and setting up another Meyersdale score. Drake Gindlesperger added 12 carries for 60 yards, John Harvey had five for 57 yards and Tyler Fisher another 17 yards on four rushes.
Meyersdale scored on its opening possession, moving the ball 65 yards on the ground with Gindlesperger scoring from the 2 and Brennan Campbell kicking the first of six extra points for a 7-0 lead.
On their third series following a quarterback sack by Daniel Ludwick and a Shade punt, the Red Raiders took over deep in the Panthers territory. In six plays, they moved 23 yards with Kretchman scoring from the 2.
Meyersdale put its third touchdown on the board at the 11:14 mark of the second quarter. Red Raiders quarterback Briar Sheets completed his lone pass of the contest, 18 yards to Dakota Kennell. Kretchman dashed the final 31 yards for the TD and the 21-0 advantage.
After a Shade punt, the visitors began their longest drive of the game with 8:25 left before the half, 14 plays that covered 97 yards with Kretchman scoring from the 1 at the 1:24 mark of the second.
With time running down, Shade quarterback Braden Adams engineered an eight-play drive, capped by a pass to Vince Fyock and a Lucas Haynes kick as time ran out.
The Panthers continued their momentum into the third quarter. On a 13-play drive Shade moved 63 yards with Tyler Valine scoring from the 3.
Kretchman took the ensuing kickoff and returned the ball 81 yards to the 1, with Sheets then breaking through the defense for the Meyersdale touchdown and a 35-13 lead.
“That kickoff return was big,” Donaldson said. “We set that up based on what Shade was doing on their kickoff team. To respond that quickly after they scored, was big for us.”
Shade’s next two possessions ended with interceptions, one by Kennell and one by Fisher.
Each team scored once in the fourth quarter, Shade on a 5-yard Fyock run and Meyersdale on a 1-yard Kretchman plunge.
“We are young, and we just aren’t quite sure what we are doing yet,” Shade coach Don Fyfe said.
“They are a fun group. We have some athletes. The second half, we kind of played our tempo. I could see this team really growing up in the second half.”
Meyersdale hosts Conemaugh Township next week while Shade is at Blacklick Valley.
“We are right where we want to be going into Week 4,” Donaldson said. “We are a little banged up and have to continue to get healthy. We are satisfied with where we are at.”