The Bulldogs are on another streak ... winning.

One week after snapping a 15-game losing streak with an emotional 28-25 win over Warren, Meadville fielded a very-confident team again Friday night against arch-rival Franklin — rushing for 315 yards with its three-headed monster backfield en route to a 32-13 victory in Region 5 action at the Barco-Duratz Athletic Conference.

It was MASH’s first win over the Knights since the 1997 season.

As the Bulldogs were celebrating in the lockerroom afterwards, Meadville coach Mike Pendolino made sure his present players knew about the losing streak against Franklin:

“This is the first time we beat them since the 1997 season,” yelled the five-year Bulldogs mentor. “It’s time to celebrate.”

Short and sweet ... the norm for winning lockerrooms — which has been missing at Meadville in recent years.

After a disastrous turnover-plagued 34-6 loss to Harbor Creek on opening night, the Bulldogs have turned the corner with two outstanding performances.

What triggered the turn-around?

“The players are beginning to believe in themselves,” said Pendolino. “After the loss to Harbor Creek, I was beginning to see a difference in them during practice while getting ready for Warren. The players are playing with a lot confidence right now.”

Three players in particular — Meadville’s backfield of senior Mike Prystaloski and juniors Jon Roncolato and Toney Phillips. Once again, the MASH backers had a strong game.

The hard-nosed Prystaloski led the ’Dogs with 86 yards on 21 carries, the fleet-footed Roncolato zigged-and-zagged for 78 yards on seven hauls and Phillips also topped 70 with 73 yards on 13 totes.

Prystaloski and Phillips each scored two touchdowns.

“Our offensive line is doing a great job,” said Pendolino. “We wanted to establish the run ... and we did.”

After Franklin scored first on Tyler Bittner’s 17-yard touchdown reception with 5:18 remaining in the first quarter, Meadville got its ground game going on the ensuing possession. Bittner tied a Franklin record with 13 receptions for 178 yards.

Set up by Roncolato’s 23-yard run, Prystaloski busted off right tackle for a 2-yard touchdown run with 3:32 left in the opening quarter.

Roncolato also keyed Meadville’s second touchdown.

On first down at MASH’s 13, Roncolato went around the right corner and cut back to the middle for a 36-yard gain. After sophomore quarterback Jarrod Kilburn completed a 13-yard pass to Phillips, Roncolato gained eight yards and Prystaloski followed with a 13-yard touchdown run to give the ’Dogs a 12-7 lead with 7:01 left in the first half.

On Franklin’s ensuing possession, the Knights threatened to score as they drove to Meadville’s 30, but the drive stalled when MASH safety Phillips picked off Franklin quarterback Julian Wested’s pass at the 16.

Phillips’ 32-yard return set up Meadville’s third touchdown in the first half — his own, a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:49 showing on the clock.

The Bulldogs delivered their KO punch on their first possession in the second half — going 79 yards on 11 plays as Preston Heagy hauled in a 23-yard touchdown reception from Kilburn, making it three games in-a-row the silky-smooth sophomore has thrown a touchdown pass.

Meadville’s big plays on the drive: Prystaloski’s 15-yard run on the opening play and Kilburn’s 19-yard run on fourth-and-four.

Phillips wrapped up MASH’s impressive victory with a six-yard touchdown run after the Bulldogs went on a seven-minute, 20-play, 85-yards drive.

Next up for Bulldogs (2-1): Region 5 leader Titusville (3-0).

Click here for today's COMPLETE Meadville Tribune

React to this story:


Recommended for you