Pine-Richland Shuts Out Penn Hills In Battle of Champions

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Pine-Richland didn’t ease into this new football season.

Junior quarterback Cole Spencer threw two touchdowns in the first 2½ minutes as host Pine-Richland defeated Penn Hills, 21-0, in a Week Zero contest that matched the defending WPIAL Class 6A and 5A champions.

The Rams scored on their first two possessions with an onside kick in between. They found the end zone twice before Penn Hills’ offense found the field.

Spencer connected with Luke Meckler for a 45-yard touchdown on the opening drive, a fourth-and-2 completion that gave Pine-Richland a 7-0 lead. The Rams scored again 63 seconds later when Eli Jochem caught a 37-yarder.

Those opening minutes were electric, but the final 3½ quarters were a reminder that it’s still only Week Zero.

Pine-Richland is the defending WPIAL Class 6A champion. Penn Hills won WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles. They were two of the WPIAL’s highest-scoring offenses last season, but the only other points scored Friday were on a 15-yard touchdown run by Meckler in the third quarter.

Meckler had 113 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 15 touches.

Spencer completed 17 of 27 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Meckler was his top receiver with six catches and 79 yards.

The junior rushed for 105 yards on 21 carries.

The quick two-touchdown deficit was a shock for a Penn Hills team that went undefeated last season. Graduation removed the majority of that championship lineup, so for many, this was their first start.

The Indians also played without coach Jon LeDonne, who was serving a WPIAL-mandated one-game suspension.

Penn Hills quarterback Eddie McKissick completed 13 of 22 attempts for 152 yards and an interception.

Pine-Richland will travel to Hempfield (1-0) next week for the Class 6A section opener. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.