Keystone Oaks holds off Burrell rally for Allegheny Conference win
Defending Allegheny Conference champion Keystone Oaks remained in the WPIAL playoff race with a crucial 20-13 victory at Burrell.
But the Golden Eagles had to hold off a late Bucs rally.
An interception by Noah Hindes at the goal line with 1 minute, 24 seconds left preserved the victory for Keystone Oaks (4-2, 3-1).
Burrell (1-6, 0-5) scored on a 1-yard keeper by Seth Tatrn with 3:03 remaining to cut the Golden Eagles' lead to 20-13.
Ryan Musulin grabbed the ensuing onsides kick, but Burrell forced a punt.
Logan Bitar's 54-yard punt return put the Bucs in business at the Keystone Oaks' 25.
Tatrn's apparent first-down run was nullified by a personal foul penalty, and the senior quarterback was intercepted on the next play.
“We needed to get a win badly. We had two straight losses,” Keystone Oaks coach Greg Perry said. “I give credit to Burrell, they came out and played us tough. The (soggy) conditions weren't the greatest, but sometimes you have to forget about the conditions and take the win.”
What would have been interesting was if Burrell had scored late in the game.
Said Bucs coach Dave Bellinotti: “I asked the kids ‘ When we got the ball late and score to make it 20-19, do you want to go for two?' They said yes. So there was definitely some growing up. They got excited and rallied around each other.”
Keystone Oaks leads the all-time series, 6-1, with the lone Bucs victory coming in 1970.
The workhorse again for Keystone Oaks was tailback Michael Daure with 31 carries for 185 yards. He also caught five passes for 41 yards.
Daure scored on the game's second play from scrimmage on a 57-yard run.
“In these conditions and with having a freshman quarterback, you don't want to put him under the gun too much there,” Perry said. “With the sloppy conditions going in, we knew we had to rely on (Daure), and he came through pretty well for us.”
Logan Shrubb passed for 218 yards, including an 88-yarder to Tyler Hrivnak just after Burrell scored in the second period.
After Nate Taylor booted a 32-yard field goal to give the Golden Eagles a 10-0 advantage, as Alex Bellinotti got behind the secondary on a 67-yard play.
“Trying to keep them focused has been tough,” Dave Bellinotti said. “We preach sacrifice, and after the first series, we really settled down. I'm very proud of our kids. They wouldn't quit. They bought in.”
The Keystone Oaks defense held Burrell to 14 rushing yards over the first three quarters before Tatrn carried for 41 yards in the final quarter.
R.J. Beach's fumble recovery put Burrell in position to score its second touchdown. The key play during the drive was an 18-yard completion to Bitar to the Keystone Oaks' 1 before Tatrn scored from the I-formation.
The Bucs will visit rival Valley next week.
George Guido is a freelance writer.