ERIE — There is a quiet confidence starting to brew around the Erie football program.
It's been seven long years since they knocked off Holy Family and even entering Thursday night's Tri-Valley League game — despite sporting a nifty 6-0 record, a No. 3 ranking in Class 3A and facing a visiting Tigers team that is adjusting on the fly at quarterback — there was still reason for concern.
Holy Family has presented problems for plenty of opponents over the years, and to take them lightly would be a major mistake.
Erie fell behind early to the now Kyle Helbig-led Holy Family Tigers, but they kicked it into gear and eventually pulled away for 43-21 victory to improve to 7-0 and 2-0 inside the very deep Tri-Valley League.
"We saw the tape from last week ... (Helbig) is a great athlete and it showed on a couple of plays, but we had to plan on making him beat us with his arm if we could and sometimes he beat us with his legs," said Erie coach Chad Cooper, whose team will travel to Johnstown next week for a date with the Roosevelt RoughRiders. "Our D-line and our DB's did a great job of rallying to the ball and containing him as best we can."
After a 7-7 first quarter, Erie's Tigers took the lead for good early in the second. Holy Family was forced to punt deep in their own end and a bad snap that cleared punter Matteo Lonardo's head skipped out of the end zone for a safety.
After receiving the free kick, Erie took the ball right back down the field and added to their lead. Noah Roper, who finished with 204 yards on 28 carries, scored his second touchdown of the game from 4 yards out.
"Frederick has a very good offense and they held them to 7 points last week," Cooper said. "Our kids have the mentality to keep grinding away, Noah will eventually find a hole and make a big play.
"And Jacob Mansdorfer running the ball too. People say we are limited in the passing game, but I think we have a lot more options with him because we can run the ball."
Mansdorfer would score twice on Thursday night too, including a big 7-yard scamper at the end of the first half that put Erie up 22-7 at the break.
Holy Family, now in its second week with Helbig under center, made it a one score game on its first possession of the second half. A busted play in the backfield saw Helbig roll to his left and find an open Lonardo for a 56-yard score to make it a 22-14 game.
"It's getting closer and it would be nice if we had a month to prep, but it is what it is," said Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel, whose team dropped to 4-3 overall and 0-2 in the league with Mead coming up next week. "The second half we showed what we were capable of offensively and the kids are starting to figure it out ... we are only going to get better and I'm confident in our kids ability to figure it out and battle back."
Erie opened up the playbook in its response to Holy Family score, and it was Roper who connected with a wide open Alex Mathis for a 60-yard score.
Erie's defense did the rest, intercepting Helbig twice in the third quarter; including a deflection off Lonardo that Colby Wingfield took back 35-yards for a score.
ERIE 43, HOLY FAMILY 21
At ErieHoly Family (4-3, 0-2)7077—21
Erie (7-0, 2-0)715147—43
Holy Family — Dilan Gonzalez 30 pass from Kyle Helbig (Matteo Lonardo kick).
Erie — Noah Roper 25 run (Julian Custine kick).
Erie — Safety, snap over punters head.
Erie — Roper 4 run (kick failed).
Erie — Jacob Mansdorfer 7 run (Custine kick).
Holy Family — Lonardo 56 pass from Helbig (Lonardo kick).
Erie — Alex Mathis 60 pass from Roper (Custine kick).
Erie — Colby Wingfield 35 interception return (Custine kick).
Holy Family — Brandon Biehler 15 pass from Helbig (Lonardo kick).
Erie — Mansdorfer 5 run (Custine kick).
RUSHING — Holy Family: Kyle Helbig 14-98, Hayden Strange 12-40, Braedon Peters 4-19, Trevin Johnson 3-9, Mitchell Guyot 1-2. Erie: Noah Roper 28-204, Jacob Mansdorfer 15-86, Preston Vanlandingham 3-37, Colby Wingfield 5-19, Julian Custine 1-(minus-3).
PASSING — Holy Family: 15-33-2-188. Erie: Mansdorfer 1-5-1-14, Roper 1-1-0-60.
RECEIVING — Holy Family: Dilan Gonzalez 5-57, Ben Nappe 3-12, Brandon Biehler 2-32, Matteo Lonardo 1-56, Devin Doroff 1-22, Andrew Edwards 1-6, Davis Martinek 1-3, Peters 1-0. Erie: Alex Mathis 1-60, Jaden Gilmore 1-14.