PITTSBURGH — One season after Central Catholic served them a 49-35 loss at home, the Pine-Richland Rams came ready to return the favor.
Vikings receiver Peter Gonzalez, a junior three-star recruit with offers that include Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and Wisconsin, described the chippy atmosphere in the Rams’ 35-13 victory. Pine-Richland committed several personal fouls and received a sideline warning in the second half.
“They were hyped. I can’t blame them, they made some good plays,” Gonzalez said. “A little unnecessary, but I get the hype to the game so, nothing against them.”
Gonzalez made third-down catches of 31, 23 and 42 yards to extend drives in the second half. Speaking like a wily veteran, Gonzalez wouldn’t divulge any tricks of the trade that allowed him to feast on Pine-Richland’s defensive backs. Instead, he deflected the praise to his teammates.
“Coach just put the ball in my hand, he had faith in me…we studied film, knew what they were going to do,” Gonzalez said. “[My quarterback] made a great throw, [there was] great protection. Without them, I don’t have time to catch it.”
Despite the lopsided score, Gonzalez wasn’t the only receiver making huge plays for the Vikings.
Sophomore WR/DB Xxavier Thomas, the younger brother of Central grad and Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas, keyed the Vikings with a pair of big plays before halftime.
Thomas picked up a first down on a fake punt with a 22-yard rush off a reverse, then put Central on the board with a 12-yard touchdown catch, while also recording an interception.
Gonzalez spoke to the talent of his younger teammate, who might have college offers of his own soon.
“It was huge for us. The pick, [then] we came down to score,” Gonzalez said. “He played a hell of a game, got us the ball, and we’re lucky we capitalized on it.”