Photo by Mike Long Jr.
Tigers Ben Bladel puts pressure on a Penn Hills punter after a bad snap in the Tigers 14-9 semifinal win over the Indians on Nov. 19.
Semifinal heartbreak for Sto-Rox, Cornell
By Mike Longo Jr.
Class 5A Seminfinals
Moon 14, Penn Hills 9
Excitement is mounting in the Tigers camp, after Moon beat out Penn Hills Nov. 19 to secure their place in the championship and maintain their 12-0 unbeaten streak.
"We can finally say we are going to Heinz Field next week," said Head Coach Ryan Linn after a hard-fought 14-9 contest.
The Tigers mustered a total of 232 yards total offense for the game and their special teams play set the tone early after forcing a fumble on a bad Penn Hills snap on a punt. Running back Dylan Sleva rambled across paydirt on a seven-yard run to open up the scoring in the second quarter after a scoreless first. Penn Hills would connect on a 43-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 7-3. Kicker Jacob Wieland couldn't connect on a 42-yard field goal attempt as time expired as Moon held onto a 7-3 halftime lead.
Tigers Jeremiah Miller opened up the second half scoring with a 59-yard touchdown run bursting through a huge hole created by his offensive line to bring the Moon faithful to their feet. Jacob Wieland added his second extra point of the evening as Moon increased its lead to 14-3. The Indians would score late in the third quarter cutting into the Tigers lead. However, two failed attempts at a two-point conversion on outstanding plays by the Moon defense held the lead at 14-9 for the Tigers heading into the final stanza.
Penn Hills would take over possession at the Moon 48 yard line with three minutes to play in the game, attempting one final drive in hopes of pulling out the win. The Indians picked up a first down as they pushed toward the end zone. Defensive back Caden Newhouse had a different idea as he intercepted a Julian Dugger pass with two minutes remaining in the contest to seal the deal and launch the Tigers to the championship game at Heinz Field.
During the playoff game, the Tigers picked off three passes, the other two by Ian Foster and Brandon Weaver. On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Tyler McGowan was only limited to just eight passes completing three for 21 yards and tossing one interception. Rushing Jeremiah Dean carried eight times for 101 yards while Dylan Sleva pounded out 62 yards on 15 carries and Ben Bladel added 54 on seven carries.
For the first time since 1998, Moon will attempt to claim the WPIAL Championship when it meets Penn Trafford at Heinz Field for a 6 p.m. matchup on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Class A Semifinals
OLSH 14, Rochester 13
The are headed back to the Class A Championship game for the second time in four years after defeating Rochester 14-13 in a close semifinal game Nov. 19.
Chargers Nehemiah Azeem opened up the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run with 6:45 left in the first quarter giving OLSH a 7-0 lead. Azeem would run 15 times for a total of 63 yards on the night and passed 12 times completing five for 83 yards. Running back Stephen Greer pounded out 99 yards on the ground on 18 carries.
OLSH receiver Deron Greer grabbed three receptions for 62 yards on the night. With the score knotted at 7-7, Azeem fired a 26-yard laser of a pass hauled in by Deron Greer for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. Rochester battled back, scoring with six seconds left in the third quarter and cutting the Chargers lead to 14-13 but failed to tie the game upon missing the extra point kick.
The Rams had one more chance late in the fourth quarter with under two minutes remaining. Chargers Zion McIntosh sealed the deal when he intercepted a pass at the OLSH 10-yard line. OLSH ran out the clock on the ensuing possession and held on for the 14-13.
OLSH advances to the WPIAL Championship game against Bishop Canevin. They will play at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26 at Heinz Field.
Class A Semifinals
Bishop Canevin 24, Cornell 7
Reaching the WPIAL Championship game remains an unmet milestone for the Cornell Raiders after losing to Bishop Canevin 24-7 during the Nov. 19 WPIAL Class A semifinal.
The Raiders took an early 7-0 lead but yielded the next 24 to the Crusaders, who scored two touchdowns in less than five minutes in the third quarter and ended the game with a 17-point victory margin.
Cornell scored first on a 9-yard touchdown toss from Sincere Kimbrough to his tight end Micah Dickerson at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter, before Canevin took control of the game.
Kimbrough finished the contest passing for 62 yards completing 5 of 13 attempts. Runningback Raequan Troutman carried the pigskin 10 times for a total of 83 yards.
The Canevin Crusaders will play OLSH during the Heinz Field WPIAL Champsionship game at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov 26.
Class 2A Semifinals
Serra 13, Sto-Rox 12
Sto-Rox’s perfect season and championship hopes were both blown by a devastating 13-12 loss to Serra Catholic in their Nov. 19 semifinal faceoff.
The Vikings offense gained 419 total yards, with 336 of those delivered by junior quarterback Josh Jenkins, who completed 17 of 30 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries.
These impressive offensive stats did not however translate into a high-scoring performance for the Vikings, who conceded six turnovers, and with them, multiple scoring opportunities.
The Viking defense held Serra to 153 yards total offense, but this proved enough to allow the Eagles to eak a single-point lead when the clock ran down on the final quarter. On four occasions, the Vikings brought the ball inside the Serra 20-yard line, but only scored once, giving away a fumble, and interception and missing a field goal opportunity on bad snap.
Juniors’ receivers Zay Davis and Drevon Miller-Ross put in excellent performances. Miller-Ross caught six passes for 127 yards and Davis received four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
– Sto-Rox report compiled by Ken Hohman, sportswriter.