Lancaster Catholic holds off GCC for first PIAA title
Written by: Josh Funk on Saturday, December 19th, 2009
HERSHEY, Pa. – When there would be talk and discussion about Lancaster Catholic’s football team, the topics would hinge around Kyle Smith and state passing records.
It’s only fair, in a way. Smith’s 8,510 yards and 118 touchdown passes are both state career bests. His 50 touchdown passes were a state single season record.
But this game wasn’t won by the Crusaders’ passing game. The purple and gold stayed rather grounded.
Lancaster Catholic (15-1) ran for 129 hard-earned yards and the defense shut out Greensburg Central Catholic (13-3) for the final three quarters for a 21-14 victory in the PIAA “AA” championship game from a snowy Hersheypark Stadium.
“This is a coach’s dream,” said Lancaster Catholic head coach Bruce Harbach.
The LC win gave District 3 its sixth small school championship, and in such games, District 3 is 6-0. Greensburg Central Catholic’s loss dropped representatives from the WPIAL’s Interstate Conference to 2-4 in PIAA title games.
Most of the game’s offense came in the first quarter. Greensburg Central Catholic ripped right down the field on its opening drive. Aided by a couple of Lancaster Catholic offsides penalties, Trent Hurley scored from seven yards out and the Centurions held a seven point lead.
LC wasted little time in firing right back. Quinn Houser took the Crusaders’ first play from scrimmage 62 yards to the house, and just like that, the score was tied at 7-all.
“We talked all week about running that play,” said Houser, who finished with 72 yards on four carries.
But Greensburg had an answer. A 4:10 drive culminated with another Hurley run, this a four-yarder, and GCC held a 14-7 lead.
It was, however, the last lead that GCC would hold in its magical season.
LC knotted the game up at 14-all with a Jordan Stewart 1-yard run with 5:31 left in the second quarter. Stewart finished with 40 yards on 17 carries, 1,567 yards for the season, and, through his junior season, 2,568 rushing yards.
“#1 in the state!” Stewart proudly proclaimed after the game.
But Lancaster Catholic still had work to do to finish #1. They opened the second half receiving the kickoff, and the strategy was simple.
“We knew we got the ball coming out,” Harbach said. “If we could take it down, and if our defense could step up…(we could probably hold on).”
Catholic did take it down…all the way. Kyle Smith’s 1-yard plunge on 3rd and goal gave the Crusaders a 21-14 lead, which it wouldn’t relinquish.
Greensburg Central Catholic twice failed to convert fourth down situations in the fourth quarter, and Trent Hurley’s final, last-ditch pass fell incomplete in the end zone, setting off a celebration on the visiting sideline.
Kyle Smith only threw for 35 yards, completing 4-of-9 passes. He finished his career with 8,545 yards and 118 touchdown passes. Smith added 28 rushing yards on 15 carries for LC, which averaged just over three yards per carry.
David Miller, Greensburg Central Catholic’s battering ram of a running back, ran for 104 yards on 30 carries but didn’t score a touchdown. Hurley threw for 71 yards, completing 4-of-11 passes and added 39 yards rushing on 12 carries.
GCC outrushed LC (145-129), out-passed them 71-35, and had 13 first downs to the Crusaders’ 11. But LC won the one category that matters – the scoreboard.
Muzzy Colosimo, the Greensburg Central Catholic head coach, said he couldn’t ask any more of his kids.
“We were dead…dead in the water (after a 2-2start),” Colosimo said. “I could never ask the kids to do more than they’ve done. They were absolutely super.”
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