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DISBELIEF IN DORMONT: Eagles’ perfect season drowned by Rebels’ defense

Written by: on Saturday, October 25th, 2008

DORMONT, Pa. – The weather held just long enough for Keystone Oaks to finish its senior night ceremonies.

Then, the rain came down, down, down, and so did the Golden Eagles undefeated record.

Seton LaSalle (8-1 overall, 8-1 Century Conference) claimed the 2008 crown with a dominating 20-0 victory over Keystone Oaks (8-1, 8-1) from a soaking-wet Dormont Stadium in front of a near-capacity crowd.

By geographic location, the two schools are only separated by McNeilly Road.  But on the gridiron this night, Seton-LaSalle was miles ahead of its neighbor.

The way the game played out was evident on the Rebels’ opening drive of the game.  After beginning its series with a 13-play, 78-yard, 4:53 march to the KO 5 yard line, Seton was dragged backward 21 yards by two Anthony Rizza quarterback keepers and a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

Faced with a 3rd-and-goal-to-go (26 yards) situation, Rizza calmly rocketed a 26-yard scoring strike to David Cortese for a 7-0 Rebel lead.

Rizza, who began the game 6-of-9 for 89 yards, finished 8-of-16 for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

While Seton-LaSalle found its stride in the rain, the Eagles potent rushing attack did not.  Held to minus-15 yards of offense in the first quarter, KO could do little.

Furthermore, even when the Eagles looked like they were putting together some momentum, they seemed to find a way to sputter.

Example 1: Pinned deep in its own territory, KO drew a roughing the kicker penalty in the second quarter.  But despite stringing together four first downs and chewing up over seven minutes of game clock, the Eagles came away with nothing.

Example 2: Keystone Oaks recovered a muffed Seton-LaSalle punt with 5:18 left in the third quarter.  The Eagles were able to drive to the Rebel 14 yard line, but a pair of costly penalties helped in the demise of the threat, which ended on a failed fourth down.

Example 3: After Seton-LaSalle took a 20-0 lead, KO was given a chance to dent the scoreboard with 3:44 left in the game following a 64-yard kickoff return to the Rebel eight yard line.  But Corey Bellovich’s fourth-down pass was thrown directly to a green and gold clad defender, and the Rebels preserved the shutout.

Couple those three scenarios with an astounding 123 yards on 11 penalties, including three chopblocking fouls, and it all added up to KO’s demise.

The Rebels took a 14-0 lead when Rizza found Michael DelSardo on a 19-yard scoring pass with 46 seconds left in the half.

Rugged halfback Anthony Zwickle’s 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter wrapped up the scoring and the Century Conference championship for Seton-LaSalle.  Zwickle finished with 79 rushing yards on 18 carries, while Rizza added 58 yards on 23 keepers.

Eagles’ feature back Dion Wiegand did not fare well on his Senior Night at Dormont Stadium, as he was held to a scant 32 yards on 17 carries.  Wiegand entered the game with 1,165 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and KO’s I-form offense was averaging 35 points per game prior to the shutout.

Ironically, it was the quarterback Bellovich which finished with the top rushing effort for KO – he had six carries for 44 yards, but went 7-of-20 for 36 yards and threw two interceptions.
In all, Keystone Oaks turned the ball over four times on the night, and was denied its first 9-0 record in over 60 years.

Both the Rebels and the Eagles will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs, which begin next weekend, but with the depth of the “AA” field, and the fact that the Rebels, Eagles, and Sto-Rox all finished with 8-1 overall records, actual seedings could get rather interesting.

Conventional thinking would place Seton-LaSalle as one of the top four seeds (conference champion), with Keystone Oaks earning anywhere from a #5 to #12 seed (depending on either a second or third place finish in the conference).

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