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Farrell Advances to State Semifinals With 19-14 Win over Clarion

Written by: on Saturday, December 5th, 2009

SLIPPERY ROCK — All the Farrell Steeler football team wanted since the disappointing end to the 2008 season was another chance.

In last year’s final game, the Steelers saw a late lead evaporate into a frustrating loss in the final minute of the Western final with Clairton.

Friday night at Slippery Rock University’s N. Kerr Thompson Stadium, the Steelers took another step to having the chance to advance to the state title game as they held off the Clarion Bobcats for a hard-fought 19-14 win in the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class A championships.

With the win, the Steelers (14-0) will now face Clairton (13-1) one more time. The Bears advanced to the Western Finals with a 46-0 shellacking of Conemaugh Township.

Following the game, Farrell coach Jarrett Samuels, although happy to win and advance, was not a happy camper with the effort from his club. For the game, the Steelers were flagged 11 times for 71 yards in penalties, and they turned the ball over three times, two on lost fumbles and one on an interception.

“We were fortunate to win the game tonight, but a win is a win,“ said Farrell head coach Jarrett Samuels. “But again, hats off to Clarion because they are an excellent team and they had an excellent game plan. We have to get better and the first step in doing that is playing better team ball. If we play selfish ball next week, we’ll be in trouble. I spilled my beans, but the fact is that we are moving on. Now that I chewed them out, it is time to get re-grouped and get ready for Clairton.”

Although disappointed with the loss, Clarion head coach Larry Wiser was proud of the effort he and his staff received from the Bobcats.

“The kids played so hard and so awesome and I am so proud of them,” said Wiser. “I could kick myself in the butt there near the end for not keeping the ball on the ground, but I am so proud of their effort because we had guys going down left and right. I thought we did a heckuva job against a team that many people thought we were going to get beat by 30 or 40 points.”

Now that the pairings are set, Farrell can concentrate on gaining its revenge on the Bears.

“Early in the pre-season, there was an article on (Clairton standout) Kevin Weatherspoon and he said they were going to go back to the state game and win it this time,” said Samuels. “I read it to the kids back in August and I still have the same article. But the bottom line is that we have to come out and play tough football because they are going to be ready for us. Last year we had them beat, but we let them off the hook. We have to make sure that next week we come out with a top-notch performance because a performance like we had tonight won’t get it done.”

Jamarr Whitman led the Steeler rushing attack with 152 yards on 17 carries and a pair of touchdowns, most of Whitman’s yards coming on runs between the tackles.

On film, their pursuit was excellent on plays to the outside,” said Samuels. “They always flew to the ball and we knew it would be tough to get to the outside. Our game plan was to go between the tackles and we were very effective when we did that.”

Wiser agreed with Samuels’ assessment of the Bobcats swarming to the ball.

“We have some exceptional kids that play out there,” said Wiser. “We have done a great job in that area all year. Nobody has had a lot of success getting outside on us on the perimeter.”

The Steelers made it look easy on their first possession of the game as they marched 61 yards on 10 plays, quarterback Danny Odem bulling in from one yard out for the score. Whitman’s PAT made it 7-0 Farrell with 7:13 on the clock.

The two teams held each other off the scoreboard for the next 13 minutes until Clarion’s Bubba Rue went over from four yards out for the touchdown following an interception of an Odem aerial by Cody Renninger.

The kick failed, but the Clarion touchdown cut their Farrell lead to a single point at 7-6 Steelers.

Following the Clarion score, the Steelers again made things look easy as it only took them four plays to cover 67 yards for their second score.

Following an incomplete pass, Kevin Brodie picked up three and on the next two plays, Whitman ripped off runs of 21 and 39 yards, the latter jaunt winding up in the end zone. The kick failed, but the Steeler lead was once again seven points (13-6) at halftime.

After a Clarion drive fell short of the mark when the Steeler defense stiffened to hold the Bobcats short of the sticks on the first possession of the second half, the Steelers put the ball on the turf and it proved costly as Kris Burkhart recovered the bobble inside the Steeler 10-yard line.

Three plays later, quarterback Dan Walters called his own number for the six-pointer and a pass from Walters to Renninger gave Clarion its only lead of the night at 14-13 with four minutes left before the turn for home.

Again the defenses for both clubs stiffened until the Steelers took advantage of good field position on a short punt that wound up at the Clarion 21.

On the fourth play following the short kick, Whitman ripped into the end zone for the final eight yards and the game-winning score. A big play on the mini-march was a quarterback draw by Odem that took the ball from the Clarion 26 to the Bobcat 11.

“They got us inside a couple of times for big plays and that dang quarterback draw killed us,” noted Wiser. “That is the only play they run out of that formation and we knew that, but we just didn’t make the play.”

Clarion didn’t go away easy on its final possession as the Bobcats took the ensuing kickoff on their own 44 and marched to a first down at the Farrell 29. However, that is where the Farrell defensive unit saved the day for the Steelers as it held Clarion short of the sticks, allowing the Steelers to run the final seconds off the clock to preserve the win.

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