ADAMS TWP — Mars was out-foxed from a football playoff clincher on Friday night.
“We needed to make some big plays defensively tonight, and we didn't do that,” Planets' coach Scott Heinauer said.
Fox Chapel (3-5, 2-3) won 30-28 over Mars (5-3, 3-2) in a WPIAL 5A Northern Conference game at the Mars Athletic Complex.
Heinauer said his defense gave Fox Chapel too much time and room to make big plays and limit the Fighting Planets offensive possessions.
“We can't let them on the field,” Heinauer said. “We need to get off the field defensively.”
Fox Chapel gained fresh sets of downs on 10 of their 14 third-down situations.
“I thought our kids played with great poise and they really executed our game plan,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said.
The Foxes ran for 99 yards, but their key plays came through the air, including three of their four touchdowns.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, quarterback Shane Susnak flipped the ball to receiver Khi'l Patterson in the backfield. Patterson turned the short [ass into a 59-yard touchdown.
In all Susnak was 21 of 29 passing for 258 yards, sprinkled among five different receivers.
“I thought we dispersed the ball when we had to,” Loughran said. “When we throw the ball, we want to be balanced and not really throw the ball to one kid.”
Heinauer said Mars' pressure was not enough at times and at other times it was too much. He said Fox Chapel's passing system relies on allowing their skill players to use their legs to make plays.
“(Susnak) gets rid of the ball fast,” he said. “That's their game.”
But Mars did not go down quietly. The Planets followed touchdown for touchdown, even leading the game once in the second quarter and once in the third quarter, until the fourth quarter, when the Foxes scored two consecutive touchdowns.
Ruffner had a successful game early, compiling most of his 120 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Loughran said the Foxes' game plan was to contain the Mars back as much as possible. He said the coordination using basic fronts and varying stunts helped mix up the blitz on Ruffner.
“Their offense goes as he goes, so we knew coming into the game that we had to control him and stop him.” Loughran said. “He made a couple nice runs and a couple nice plays, but I thought we played him tough.”
In the second half, running back Nick Spotti and quarterback Quinn Fuller lit up the scoreboard to keep the game close.
Spotti score one touchdown on the ground early in the half, but it was his catch on a 54-yard pass thrown by Fuller that really padded an unusually heavy passing presence for the Planets.
Entering Friday's game, Mars had a total of 17 completions for 251 yards.
Fuller finished Friday's game with six completions on 13 attempts for 158 yards. He threw one interception on Mars' last drive of the first half.
“Our offense has never really been an issue,” Heinauer said.
He said the key to their loss was not being able to make key stops, so they could be more in control.
“When you don't have the ball, that's a big factor,” Heinauer said.
Mars hosts Kiski Area Friday.
Fox Chapel 7 10 0 13 — 30
Mars 0 14 7 7 — 28
FC — Warner Macklin 4 pass from Shane Susnak (Zakaria Essaoua kick), 7:48
M — Teddy Ruffner 10 pass from Quinn Fuller (Blake Edwards kick), 10:36
M — Ruffner run 2 (Edwards kick), 5:56
FC — Lorenzo Jenkins 2 pass from Susnak (Essaoua kick), 1:13
M — Nick Spotti 25 run (Edwards kick), 3:51
FC — Khi'l Patterson pass 59 from Susnak (Essaoua kick), 11:46
FC — Alexander Wecht 32 run (Essaoua kick), 8:22
M — Spotti 54 pass from Fuller (Edwards), 5:57
Rushing:Fox Chapel, Sam Brown 16-52; Alexander Wecht 8-40, Shane Susnak 5-7. Mars, Teddy Ruffner 24-120; Nick Spotti 5-30; Ben Chizmar 1-(-1).
Receiving:Fox Chapel, Lorenzo Jenkins 8-76; Wecht 6-40; Patterson 4-121; Warner Macklin 2-10; Benjamin Wilk 1-11. Mars, Spotti 2-77; Josh Grell 2-48; Joe Deluca 1-23; Teddy Ruffner 1-10.
Passing: Fox Chapel, Susnak 21-29-0-258. Mars, Quinn Fuller 6-13-1-158.