(Since the last few inches of my gamer were chopped off in mid-sentence in print, here’s the complete story.)
The 42nd annual Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Pennsylvania, but in the end, it was New York wrapping up one of the biggest wins in the history of the series.
Already up 2-0 just 2:10 into the game after Bradford’s John Pantuso chased New York quarterback and reigning Big 30 Player of the Year Bryce Morrison (Randolph) into his own end zone for a safety, the red-clad Keystone State offense was on the move and seemingly ready to add to its lead.
Then, Portville cornerback Isaac Hilyer stepped in front of a potential touchdown pass at his own goal line for a momentum-killing interception, Salamanca quarterback Jared Fish capped off an efficient 80-yard march the other way with a 16-yard scoring strike to Olean receiver Chuckie Martin to take an 8-2 lead, and the Empire State squad never looked back on the way to a 44-8 rout at Bradford’s Parkway Field on Saturday night.
“We were almost down 9-0 right there. That was the change of the game,” New York coach Jay Sirianni said. “I think eventually we would have grabbed the momentum, but that was huge. And then Jared got in and directed that offense really nicely, and went down the field and scored. That was great.”
While a steady diet of pressure from the New York front seven kept Pennsylvania in check, the offense tacked on two more touchdowns late in the second quarter and then scored on three of its first four second-half drives to put the game out of reach. By the time Pennsy crossed midfield for just the second time in the game, the score was 30-2.
“We wanted to get as much pressure on them as we could. You’re limited by some things (mandatory 4-3 set) here, but we got to them,” Sirianni said. “Our defensive tackles did a nice job of getting pressure, our D-ends got up the field and got pressure.
“They missed a couple of deep balls that could have gone their way. We missed a couple, too. But I think the pressure we put on them defensively was the difference in the game, at least shutting them down.”
Any fleeting thoughts of a Pennsylvania comeback were put to rest late in the third quarter with the game’s second turnover, when Franklinville/Ellicottville linebacker Calum Watt alertly scooped up a botched lateral and returned it 55 yards to the Pennsy 2. His high school teammate, Phalla Musall, finished off the short scoring drive two plays later, Cuba-Rushford kicker Colton Worthington added his third of four extra points to make the score 37-2 four seconds into the final period, and for the second time in three years the Raabe Classic finished under a mercy-rule running clock.
“Awesome that they recognized that that was a backwards lateral. We’re yelling from the sideline, but they don’t hear us,” Sirianni said, smiling. “Isaac got on it, but didn’t pick it up. Then Cal got on it, rumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’, just a great heads-up play.
“We made Cal a captain because he took control of this team, took control of the defense. He’s a great leader. I just wish he had those two extra yards.”
Fish went 12-of-17 for 166 passing yards, hooking up again with Martin (7 catches, 57 yards) for a second touchdown toss. His Salamanca teammate James Nye (6 catches, 91 yards) rushed for one touchdown and caught another from Morrison, while Olean’s Jaryd Plaud (8 carries, 54 yards) and Musall (11 carries, 36 yards) paced the running game in a balanced New York attack.
For Pennsylvania, Sheffield quarterback Adam Higby completed 7 of 12 passes for 115 yards, including a 63-yard, one-handed highlight-worthy catch by Eisenhower speedster Jarrett Johnson (5 catches, 90 yards) to set up their lone touchdown, a 2-yard run by Kane’s John English in the fourth quarter. Ridgway quarterback Ben MacDonald rushed for a team-high 38 yards.
Port Allegany H-back Chris Lashway rushed once for 1 yard on the game’s opening series, while linebacker-turned-tackle R. J. Veilleux was in on several stops. A trio of Coudersport players also took part, with Ralph Briggs, Jr. and Ian Creech lining up at tackle on offense, while Austin’s Brad Green played on the defensive line.
“They hit those big plays and we didn’t. When you’ve got spread offenses going on, that’s what gonna happen. You’re either gonna hit those plays or you’re not,” Pennsy coach Jim Penley said. “You know the people are going to bring pressure; we needed to break a couple plays. We broke a couple of run plays, and we had open pass plays. We just didn’t hit them, and they did. I don’t think it was for a lack of effort on our guys’ part. The plays that we wanted to run, they were there. We just had to hit them.”
With its second consecutive victory, the first time the same team has won back-to-back games since Pennsylvania did it in 2008-09, New York upped its series lead to 22-18-2. The 36-point margin was the largest in a New York win and second overall, trailing only Pennsylvania’s 53-12 win in 2013.
Sirianni, who stepped down at Southwestern after last season with a stellar 101-26 record and two state championships on his ledger, didn’t nix returning to the varsity sideline someday. But for now, he couldn’t have chosen a better way to cap his high school coaching career.
“I think this Big 30 Game, number one, the money that’s raised for charity, that’s what it’s all about. That’s awesome. Those guys do such a great job,” he said.
“It was such an enjoyable week, regardless of the outcome of the game. That was just the icing on the cake. But it was just so enjoyable to get to know these guys, to coach these guys, and just really be part of their last high school football game. It’s special.”
42nd Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic
At Bradford, Aug. 1:
|SCORE BY QUARTERS:
PA (12:50) – Safety, John Pantuso sacked Bryce Morrison in end zone, 2-0
NY (5:14) – Chuckie Martin 16 pass from Jared Fish (12 plays, 80 yards after Isaac Hilyer interception, 5:09); Martin from Fish, 2-8
NY (3:50) – Martin 3 pass from Fish (8 plays, 83 yards, 2:33); Jaryd Plaud run, 2-16
NY (0:51) – Morrison 1 run (9 plays, 45 yards, 1:49); Colton Worthington kick, 2-23
NY (12:30) – James Nye 16 pass from Morrison (6 plays, 40 yards, 2:23); Worthington kick, 2-30
NY (14:56) – Phalla Musall 1 run (2 plays, 2 yards after Calum Watt 55-yd fumble return,0;44); Worthington kick, 2-37
NY (6:20) – Nye 6 run (7 plays, 46 yards, 3:56); Worthington kick, 2-44
PA (5:31) – John English 2 run (2 plays, 65 yards, 0:49); kick failed, 8-44
|Time of Possession
Pennsylvania – Chris Lashway 1-1, Ben MacDonald 10-34, Kyle Langdon 3-6, Kyle Kulka 3-11, John English 10-1
New York – Bryce Morrison 9-11, Jared Fish 13-26, Jaryd Plaud 8-57, Phalla Musall 12-42
Pennsylvania – Adam Higby 7-12-0-0, 115 yards, MacDonald 5-12-0-1, 12 yards
New York – Fish 11-16-2-0, 141 yards, Morrison 6-13-1-0, 67 yards
Pennsylvania – Jarrett Johnson 5-90, Kulka 1-2, Langdon 1-2, Ryan Seeyle 3-24, Ryan Shattuck 3-9
New York – Chuckie Martin 7-58, James Nye 5-84, Andrew Crandall 3-56, Derek Young 2-10.