St. Joe’s Prep stuns McKeesport with 4th quarter comeback
Written by: Josh Funk on Saturday, September 5th, 2009
WHEELING, W. Va. – Tickets to the Wheeling Rally in the Valley cost $20.
McKeesport and St. Joe’s Prep gave ticketholders their monies worth…and then some.
The Hawks (1-0) erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit with two late touchdown passes, stunning McKeesport’s (0-1) potent flexbone attack 27-26 from Wheeling Island Stadium.
It was a wild game, full of big plays, and lots of injuries. McKeesport head coach George Smith wasn’t angry after the loss, even though his Tigers held a 26-14 lead with less than six minutes left in the game.
“Cramps and injuries,” the veteran coach said. “We had two defensive linemen go out of the game – one of them was our swing guard on offense.”
Plus, McKeesport got called for numerous penalties in the game, something Smith said he’d never seen before. Among the numerous flags were two 15-yard illegal chopblock penalties.
“We’ve not been called for those before,” Smith said.
The first half provided an overall lack of offense – the two teams combined for just seven first downs, and McKeesport outgained the Prep 147-65.
McKeesport grabbed a 7-0 lead with 5:01 left in the opening quarter when Ty-meer Brown hooked up with Richard Cleveland on a 36-yard touchdown pass. Cleveland actually had to slow down to catch the pass, but he was far enough behind the Hawk defense that slowing down only meant he got tackled into the end zone.
McKeesport pushed ahead 13-7 when Darien Robinson scored from three yards out. It broke a 7-7 tie, which came to be when Garrett Compton crashed in from a yard out.
St. Joe’s Prep made a late surge deep into McKeesport territory late in the second quarter, thanks to a Desmon Peoples’ 68-yard kickoff return, but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize despite starting at the Tiger 25 yard line. Skyler Mornhinweg’s pass was intercepted by Kevin Johnson in the end zone with :54 left in the half, and McKeesport dodged a big bullet.
The Tigers extended their lead to 19-7 when Robinson scored his second touchdown of the day, this a 5-yard run toward the home sideline with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
The Hawks appeared to steal some of the momentum back when Compton scored his second touchdown of the game, slicing the Tigers’ lead to 19-14.
“When you’ve got a 210-pound tailback that can run….,” said Hawks’ head coach Gil Brooks.
It’s not hard to fill in the blanks. You pound him. And pound him and pound him and pound him. In all, Compton finished the game with 118 yards and the two scores on 32 carries.
It was an unlikely hero, sophomore quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, who stepped up big in crunch time.
McKeesport had limited the Hawk field general to just a 2-of-10 start for 14 yards and an interception. From the 5:59 mark of the 4th quarter on, Mornhinweg went a cool 4-for-4 for 96 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 1:53 left.
The first scoring pass, a 35-yard floater to Bobby D’Orazio, cut McKeesport’s lead to 26-21. The second, and biggest play to that point, was a 41-yard toss to a wide-open Peoples, who flew down the Tigers’ sideline untouched.
“I don’t know how I got that open,” Peoples, a sophomore making his first varsity start, said.
Mornhinweg then sealed the victory with 1:03 left in the game, picking off Brown’s deep pass over the middle.
Mornhinweg finished 6-of-14 for 110 yards. He added four carries for minus-2 yards.
As a team, the Prep ran for 124 yards on 40 carries. The Hawks gained 224 yards of offense and had 12 first downs.
McKeesport ran for 253 yards and threw for another 70. The Tigers averaged nearly 6.7 yards per carry and nine first downs.
Darien Robinson led the way for McKeesport, rushing for 104 yards and two scores on 18 carries. Brown ran for 86 yards on 13 keepers and completed 1-of-3 passes for 36 yards. Sam Gooden ran for 45 yards and threw for another 34 for the Tigers.
NOTES: St. Joe’s Prep’s victory is believed to be the Philadelphia Catholic League’s first against the WPIAL. The PCL had recently struggled against the WPIAL…the Prep lost in 2004 to Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Archbishop Wood lost to Thomas Jefferson in the “AAA” state championship game.
Follow WesternPAFootball.com on Twitter @WPAFootball