By Mike Longo Jr.
The match-up at Frank Letteri Stadium, between Cornell and Bishop Canevin, Oct. 6, by early season projections was to have been a battle of the unbeaten.
Last week in a run and gun old-fashioned shoot-out, Bishop Canevin was booted from the unbeaten ranks by Fort Cherry's high-powered offense, 48-41. Eighty nine points in a high school football game is mostly unheard of. However, such was the case as the Crusaders suffered the first blemish of the season to their record.
As for the Cornell Raiders, they escaped by the skin of their teeth with a 14-13 come from behind win over Burgettstown. The narrow victory kept the Raiders in the ranks of the unbeaten.
Pre-game traffic nightmare aside, the stage was set for this huge vocal crowd in Coraopolis on Pink Out Night. It was the "Showcase High School Game of the Week" televised on the KDKA + network.
Cornell should have needed little motivation in gearing up for this year's clash with Bishop Canevin. They have the grim reminder of last year's 63-0 drubbing at the hands of the Crusaders. Not to mention keeping the season's unbeaten streak alive and this contest took on a play-off like atmosphere. Receiving the opening kick-off, Cornell's explosive offense couldn't stretch the chains past mid-field and punted the ball away. In turn, the Crusaders high
powered offense did much of the same, nothing. Penalties and sloppy play by both teams kept the scoreboard posting zero's at the quarters end.
The second quarter saw the game open up on the offensive side of the ball for each team. Cornell struck first on a 23-yard laser pass for a touchdown with the extra point conversion and a brief 7-0 lead over the Crusaders.
Following the ensuing kick-off, it didn't take Bishop Canevin's star Quarterback, Kole Olszewski long to get his offense rolling. The Crusader's quickly marched down the field mixing up their play selections as they reached the Red Zone.
One play later it was the start of the Olszewski and Jason Cross show as the quarterback found the fleet footed receiver for a 17-yard scoring strike. Ryan McFetridge added the point after touchdown and we were knotted up at 7-7.
Bishop Canevin's defense took center stage, elevating the Crusader's game and shutting down the Raiders in this hard hitting affair. Both defensive units set the stage with tenacious play and bone jarring teeth rattling hits.
Once again Olszewski connected with Cross, this time for a 13-yard touchdown toss as McFetridge added another extra point for a 14-7 Bishop Canevin lead at the break. In the third stanza, the Cornell defense stepped up its game in the hopes of keeping an unbeaten streak alive. as well as knotting up the contest.
Offensively sputtering at times, the Raiders were able to keep the contest close when they added a 20-yard touchdown pass. In an attempt to even the contest, the extra point missed wildly to the right as Bishop Canevin clung to a 1-point lead, 14-13 at the end of the third.
The Fourth saw a plethora of penalties which added to each team's totals for the night along with some key interceptions.
Offensively, the only and most important scoring came from the Bishop Canevin side of the pigskin in this close knit contest.
Olszewski connected with Receiver Jayden Lindsey for a 29-yard hook-up. Ryan McFetridge connected on his third extra point conversion giving the Crusaders a 21-13 advantage.
Cornell was able to muster one final drive as they marched downfield to a potential touchdown with the possibility of a two point conversion to knot the contest.
Faced with a fourth and long situation, Cornell Head Coach Ed Dawson had only one option, go for the gold and a firstdown to keep the drive alive. The Raiders attempt resulted in turning the ball over on downs and set the stage for Bishop Canevin to take possession.
With only one time-out remaining and little time left on the scoreboard clock, the end was near and the grim reality of the Raiders first loss loomed large.
The Cornell final time-out was exhausted and all that was needed was the Crusaders to kneel down twice with the ball, contest over.
On the evening, Crusaders star Quarterback Olszewski ended the contest completing eight of 20 passes good for 135 yards and three touchdowns while being picked off three times.
Indeed a hard fought loss for Cornell, a much needed win for Bishop Canevin. Both teams have not seen the last of each other as the season winds down and barring a total flop by both, a playoff match-up seems in the cards.
There's possibly a date in the WPIAL Championship game. Only time will tell.