Clairton stymies Bishop McCort; WPIAL wins 30th PIAA title
Written by: Josh Funk on Friday, December 18th, 2009
HERSHEY, Pa. – Clairton’s 36 players gathered in a huddle, a joyous, jubilant huddle, and started a call-and-response chant of, “Ohhhh, yeeeaaaaaaah!”
But for much of the game, District 6 rep. Bishop McCort kept things very, very close. But never were the Bears in danger of bellowing, “Ohhhhh no!”
Clairton (15-1) pulled away from the upset-minded Crushers (14-1) with two fourth quarter touchdowns for a 15-3 victory in the PIAA “A” championship game from Hersheypark Stadium Friday afternoon.
The Clairton victory gave the WPIAL its 30th PIAA championship. The McCort loss means that teams from the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference fall to 0-3 all-time in state finals games.
Both teams battled through a scoreless first quarter, with neither team really getting anything established offensively. McCort did outrush Clairton through the first quarter, however.
Clairton got its first score in rather a-typical fashion when Trenton Coles booted a 25-yard field goal. Bishop McCort missed a tying field goal later in the first half, even more a-typical considering that Dane Domonkos is nothing short of “Mr. Automatic” when it comes to scoring points via kicks.
Clairton’s field goal capped a 17-play, 83-yard, 7:07 drive.
“That is a little ironic, isn’t it?” said Clairton head coach Tom Nola. “We made one and we never kick and they missed one.”
Clairton, though, let some opportunities slip through their paws in the first half. Specifically, a potential 45-yard pass that could have ended in a touchdown to Kevin Weatherspoon was just a little overthrown. There was another such instance later in the half.
“We could have had two touchdowns if the quarterback had put the ball on (the receiver),” Nola said.
But Clairton took the 3-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, and was a little too close for comfort by Bear standards, who had beaten 11 opponents by 30 points or more.
McCort knotted things up at 3-all with 1:38 left in the third quarter when Domonkos nailed a 22-yard field goal, and the Crushers had made things interesting.
Clairton took the lead for good when Desimon Green called his own number on a 1-yard run with 6:24 left in regulation. That score was set up by a McCort fumble on a botched triple-reverse play, and Clairton had gained possession at the Crusher 33 yard line.
Deontae Howard (24 rushes, 150 yards) sealed the Clairton victory with an 80-yard touchdown run with just 1:44 left in the game. Josh Pinkerton’s ensuing deep pass was intercepted by Weatherspoon, and the Bears ran out the clock.
Clairton amassed 278 yards of offense (197 rushing) and 13 first downs. Green ran for 23 yards on 12 carries and went 4-of-13 passing for 68 yards. Eddie Ball added three carries for eight yards for the Bears.
Seidel led McCort with 111 yards on 22 carries. Chaz Merriman added 34 yards on six attempts. McCort, which was averaging over 270 rushing yards per game entering the PIAA title fray, was held to just 154 yards rushing and 164 yards of total offense. The Crushers’ passing game, invisible all season, was rendered ineffective by Clairton’s defense, completing just 2-of-5 passes for 10 yards.
Howard said that the feeling this year is a lot different than last year, when Clairton was defeated by 19 points. Last year, the tears were tears of sadness.
“If you see anybody crying this time,” Howard said, “they are tears of joy.”
NOTES: Clairton finished its season with 634 points scored – third most in the history of the WPIAL and 14th in state history. Clairton’s win was the 565th in school history, and its 41st in the playoffs.
Bishop McCort finished its season with 585 points – the second-highest total in District 6 history, 44th in the state.
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