Phil Jurkovec led Rams win PIAA Class 6A Title with dominant second half effort
Written by: Billy Splain on Sunday, December 10th, 2017
It took a little time, but after feeling each other out one team decided it wanted to win the PIAA Class 6A title just a little more than the other. That team was the Pine-Richland Rams. Coming out of halftime with a slim 14-7 lead, Notre Dame bound quarterback Phil Jurkovec helped score three touchdowns in the third quarter to lead the Rams to a 41-21 win to claim the 2017 6A Championship. Jurkovec accounted for 288 of Pine-Richland’s 400 total yards and 5 of the 6 touchdowns in his curtain call that saw the prolific quarterback account for nearly 11,000 yards and 39 touchdowns.
This game started out like a heavy weight boxing match with each team throwing punches. The Rams got off to a quick start taking the opening kick off and marching 69 yards in three plays, highlighted by Jordan Crawford’s 62 yard return to the Prep 31. Crawford would run 15 yards to the one after a pass interference penalty, then Jurkovec finished the drive calling his own number. Vittorio Orsini made the kick and that fast it was 7-0 Rams.
The score remained that way, but the Rams held on to the lead thanks to a couple big plays and some luck. On the third drive of the night for the Hawks, quarterback Marquez McCray led his team on two separate drives that nearly ended with scores. The first was a huge bullet dodged when McCray found receiver James Cherry on a short pass at the 20. Cherry sprinted to the endzone but a big hit by Raymond Falcone jarred the ball loose at the one and Tyler King recovered in the end zone for the Rams.
After holding the Rams, St. Joe’s running back Kolbe Burrell showed his spectacular speed busting loose for several big gains as did Marques Mason, but when the Hawks reached the Ram 11 the drive stalled and Pine-Richland took over. The Hawks wouldn’t be denied after holding the Rams again, and it was both Burrell and McCray who helped the Hawk’s tie the score at 7. McCray got the ball to the 5 where Mason capped the drive. With 8:05 left in the half, we had a ball game.
Each team threw punches, the Rams forcing a fumble and the Hawks intercepting Jurkovec to stop drives, but it was after that interception with 1:20 left to play in the half that the Rams took control. Forcing the Hawks to punt, Crawford once again fielded a kick and gave his team great field position, returning the punt 26 yards to the Hawks 25. On the third play, Jurkovec went around the right side, shaking off would be tacklers to put his team up 14-7 after the Orsini Kick. Pine-Richland never looked back. “We just, at halftime we said if we’re going to do this, we need to do this now. It’s our last 24 minutes of football, let’s get it done” said lineman Andrew Kristofic.
Both teams battled for field position for a few series in the third, but it was Anthony Cerminara who got things rolling for the Rams by forcing yet another fumble by Cherry with a big hit that Luke Meckler recovered at the 24. Jurkovec scored from 13 yards out, shake defenders off on the way to the goal to make it 21-7 at the 6:07 mark in the third. One their next drive Jurkovec found Crawford for 46 yards and the future Irish qb ran in from 6 making it 28-7.
Kolbe Burrell took off for a 56 yard score on the next series making it 28-14, but the Pine-Richland offense had found the gas pedal and pushed it to the floor. The Rams struck back immediately with a 4 play drive culminated by a Jurkovec to Ben Jochem 25 yard td pass. A few minutes later in the game, McCray was strip sacked by Crawford and Jared Marfisi recovered at the 12. Crawford then finished the Rams scoring on the next play.
St. Joseph’s scored one more time on a McCray 16 yard pass to Brandon Sanders. For the Hawks, Kolbe Burrell finished with 158 yards on the ground on 13 carries, Mason had 72 yards. McCray was 12-35 for 121 yards and the score.
Pine-Richland’s Crawford finished with 85 on the ground and 66 in the air. He also had 98 kick return yards for 245 total all purpose. Falcone had 70 receiving yards and Jochem 59, both with four catches.
We knew that this was going to be a tough battle and we went in the locker room we just knew we had only 24 minutes left and that was the last 24 minutes we would have to play with each other.
The feeling in indescribable. We’ve worked so hard together for this moment and we finally got it done.
If feels great, we worked so hard, this is what we wanted. When we saw Coatesville was winning, no offense to Coatesville but we were hoping St Joes would pull it out. They’ve been the best team all year, they beat us in ’14 so this is what we thought we had to do to get the respect we deserve.
We just kept doing what we do in the second half. They seemed to get tired and we didn’t
Phil and i last year during basketball said let’s get it done this year and we did
All the hard work, it paid off. We ran on them we just came up short.
We’re going to use this, come out next week and work on being stronger
We’re very disciplined so we never talked about rankings. It had nothing to do with this. We want to go 1-0, 1-0, 1-0
I feel bad, you never want the kids to have to deal with making mistakes and thats what we did.
One moment won’t define them. We’ll move on.
Jurkovec beats you with his legs. He’s a big strong kid. That’s how he beats you.
Games like this are chess matches. You make adjustments all game long. They made the adjusments that won the game.
Just do anything for these guys. I just go out and do what coach tells me to do.
We have weapons all over the field. You can’t keep us all down
I’ve been playing football for 11 years and this is the best feeling ever
I couldn’t be more proud of the seniors and team.
I talk to our team back in January, we go 1-0 every week to reach our three goals. Win the Conference, the Wpial and the State Title.
Phil’s the best player in the country. Whatever the awards are, I don’t know what they are, he should get them. Notre Dame is getting a heck of a player.
Coach Todd Jochem son, Bens a great player.
Our team has team mentality. There’s no me me me, they work together.
It’s just a big stage so I knew I had to give it may all so I did.
Us seniors said this is the last few minutes to play together, lets get it done.
This is incredible, I will always remember this one, the WPIAL title and beating our rivals
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