CLARKS SUMMIT — With both teams struggling to move the ball on offense, combining to gain just 18 yards on the first 17 plays of the game, Abington Heights’ Colin McCreary provided a boost on defense.
The junior free safety intercepted a Seamus Rother pass and returned the ball 73 yards for a touchdown with 4:28 left in the first quarter.
“It was a great momentum swing for our team,” McCreary said. “It got us rolling offensively and defensively, and gave us a lot of confidence early in the game.”
Abington Heights (2-0) created three more Crestwood turnovers and prevailed, 31-13, in a non-league football game on Saturday at Comets Stadium.
“I think we’re staying really disciplined defensively,” McCreary said. “We’re making the right reads and we’re playing with tremendous effort.”
Abington Heights’ defensive back Brad Bauman recovered a fumble on the third play of Crestwood’s next possession. Quarterback Jordan Hollander cashed in on the takeaway, eight plays later, when he scored on a 1-yard run.
“Our ability to create turnovers and put points on the board early was definitely something that had a huge impact in today’s game,” Abington Heights head coach Joe Repshis said.
Crestwood (0-2) turned the ball over on a third consecutive possession when Abington Heights’ defensive end Nick Kerekes recovered a fumble by Lance Blass.
McCreary converted a 32-yard field goal, four plays later, to give Abington Heights a 17-0 lead with 8:32 remaining in the first half.
The Abington Heights defense continued to cause havoc when Tom Rothenberger intercepted a Rother pass with 47.8 seconds left in the half, but McCreary’s 47-yard field goal attempt in the final second of the second quarter fell short.
Crestwood scored two touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the second half, on a 7-yard pass from Rother to Connor Sheloski and a 65-yard run on a fumble recovery by Sheloski, to pull within four points of the lead with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter.
“We made some adjustments with some personnel and some of our schemes up front, and it worked, but we just couldn’t get a stop (defensively),” Crestwood head coach Greg Myers said.
Abington Heights’ running back Rheyse Green, who gained 137 yards on 25 carries, scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 27-yarder in which he raced to the end zone untouched to seal the victory.
“It was beautiful,” Green said of the blocking. “I hit the hole, saw it open and it was gorgeous. The (offensive line) works their butts off at practice every single day. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”
Abington Heights ran the ball for 76 yards on 13 carries in the fourth quarter to help run out the clock.
“We wanted to be able to control the ball offensively and keep the ball out of their hands,” Repshis said. “I thought our line did a great job and we were able to gain confidence.”
Abington Heights will travel to Williamsport High School for a non-league game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.