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Bishop McDevitt advances to Hershey with thrilling win over Erie Cathedral Prep

Written by: on Sunday, December 8th, 2013

“Welcome to Big Boy football”. That’s what I said to my defensive statistician (who also happens to be my wife) at halftime after a thrilling first 2 quarters of football that saw both teams combine for over 600 yards of offense and 55 points. Again, that was just the first half! When the snow dust had settled at a frigid E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois, both teams had combined for nearly 990 yards of offense and 89 points.

Trailing 42-40 with just over two minutes to play and facing 3rd and 11 from the Rambler 33 yard line, Nick Marsilio scrambled in the backfield avoiding several Prep tacklers, then saw sophomore Bryce Hall in the back of the end zone. Marsilio made the throw to the only place it could go, and after a leaping catch, Hall managed to barely get a foot to the ground just before his body landed out of bounds. “As soon as I hit the ground the first thing I did was look up and I saw the referee standing over me. I was thinking ‘did I catch it?’ and when I saw his arms go up in the air I was like YES I did!” With that catch the Crusaders of Bishop McDevitt completed a thrilling comeback win over Erie Cathedral Prep for their third shot at a state title in the last 4 years, winning 47-42. “It was a come back play to Kobay White, but he fell so I had to improvise. I saw Bryce in the back of the end zone and he made a heck of a catch” said the Jr. quarterback. Marsilio threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

This was a game that featured 7 scores of over 30 yards, 2 quarterbacks that combined for 640 yards of passing and 5 touchdowns, two running backs with over 400 yards between them, and 6 receivers with over 50 yards in catches each (three of those recorded over 100 yards receiving). Let’s also not forget the two defenses had a combined 5 interceptions, 5 sacks and 9 tackles for loss. All this added up to one of the most thrilling games this reporter has seen in years.

“They made one more play than us tonight” said Prep coach Mike Mischler. “You never want to lose a game like that but I guess someone does. Unfortunately for us and our fans we came up on the short end tonight.”

This game started off with a bang. Andre Robinson took the opening kick of the game and broke the sound barrier exploding to a 59 yard return to the Rambler 36. The junior running back then took a handoff 36 yards on the Crusaders’ first play from scrimmage for a quick 7-0 lead.

Prep shot right back. Senior quarterback Billy Fessler began his usual surgical dissection of the opposing defense, finding Alex Greenwalt for 28 yards on the Rambler second play of the night. Greenwalt led all Rambler receivers with 6 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Jake DeHart then finished the quick drive on a 26 yard run. Just like that it was 7-7, still 11:35 to go in the first quarter.

Andre Robinson was stellar all night. On the next Crusader drive he had 2 carries, one for 5 yards the second for 71 to the Rambler 3. All totaled, Robinson had over 370 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns. Rashad Lawson took the ball in from 3 yards out and the kick by Chris Mixon made it 14-7 with the extra point.

Not to be out done, Fessler loaded his own guns, fired a shot straight down field and hit a streaking DeAngelo Malone 27 yards out. The junior running back then raced the remaining 40 yards for a 67 yard scoring play. Zach Bednarowicz made what would turn out to be his second of 6 crucial extra point kicks to tie the game at 14 with 9:23 still remaining in the first quarter.

Bishop McDevitt’s offense kept churning, this one its longest drive of the first half. Jaron Scott, Robinson and Marsilio each took turns running the ball, taking the Crusader to the Rambler 33. Marsilio then threw a scoring pass to Tyrone Gibson and that made it 20-14. The next play would set the tone for the furious finish in this game as Mixon miss-fired and the kick went wide.

Both teams exchanged turnovers before they got back to their scoring ways. Billy Fessler got the scoreboard lights rolling again as the Rambler gunslinger continued to shoot apart the Crusader defense, this time with completions of 22, 29 and an 11 yard td pass to Greenwalt.

Trailing 21-20, Marsilio found Hall for a key 34 yard gain to the Rambler 2. Robinson finished the drive on a one yard run. The Mixon kick made it McDevitt 27, Prep 21.

Again Fessler picked apart the McDevitt secondary completing 5 passes while leading his team to the Crusader 1. Michael Parker got the final touchdown of the half to make it 28-27 in favor of Cathedral Prep.

Bishop McDevitt would drive one final time deep into Rambler territory, but on 1st down at the 18 the Rambler defense stiffened sacking Marsilio at the 24. Marlon Tyree then stepped in front of a Marsilio pass and the clock ran down to zero on the play.”That play gave us a ton of momentum going in to the locker room” said the Sr. DB.

The Ramblers used that momentum to start the second half. Jake DeHart got 63 of his team high 102 yards rushing on the second play of the half to put the Ramblers up 35-27. The Rambler defense made a rare stop and forced a Crusader punt. Something happened and the punter never attempted to kick the ball. The Rambler defense swarmed and gave their offense excellent position at the Crusader 20. J.T. Joint made one of his 2 key receptions of the night, this one for 29 yards. Parker finished the drive and with 9:31 remaining in the second half the Ramblers had the first double digit lead of the night, 42-27.

It only took 4 plays for the Crusaders to end the Rambler’s momentum. Bryce Hall took a Marsilio pass 73 yards to make it 42-34. One play later Nate Monroe stepped in front of a Fessler pass and returned it to the house, stripping Cathedral Prep of any momentum it had. The point after failed, but the Crusaders were within striking distance, trailing by 2 42-40 and still 7 minutes remaining in the 3rd.

The Crusader defense seized the momentum and held Prep to its first three and out series. You could just feel it. Something was about to happen. Prep buried the Crusaders deep on the ensuing punt at their 12. The Rambler defense held and Prep looked to get good field possession but a booming 61 yard punt drove the Ramblers back to their own 15 yard line. It was all Crusaders as the 4th quarter started.

The Crusaders had 2 scoring opportunities to take a one point lead in the fourth but Mixon missed both field goal attempts – one from 39 and the other from 30 yards out. “You hate to see those kicks missed, but our guys never gave up! They just battled and overcame. Our kids just bowed up and played. One of the things I go back to is that loss to Cedar Cliff. We didn’t like that feeling. And this group of kids just would not give up,” Bishop McDevitt head coach Jeff Weachter said. “And with the weapons we have, we know we’re never out of a game. I told the defense at halftime we can score on them. But you guys are going to have to make some stops. And they did. We made some adjustments at halftime. Credit goes to the kids. They just made some plays.”

Bishop McDevitt will face Archbishop Wood next Friday for the AAA title in a rematch of the AAA final from 2011 that was won by Wood in blowout fashion.

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