Latrobe ends Connellsville's playoff hopes
With their playoff hopes on the line, Connellsville needed to make a big play in Friday's Quad East game against Latrobe.
Instead, the Wildcats came through with 14 points in the fourth quarter on their way to their first conference victory of the season, a 21-14 road triumph.
The loss eliminated the stunned Falcons (2-6, 2-5) from playoff contention.
“We're just glad to get a win,” Latrobe coach Ray Reitz said after his team snapped a four-game skid. “The whole year we've turned the ball over, but we finally played a full 48 minutes.”
With the score tied at 14, Robert Vasinko caught a swing pass from Logan Carns and raced 19 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with just 25 seconds left.
For the Wildcats (2-6, 1-6), it was perhaps the biggest play of their season — especially after they had a 76-yard kickoff touchdown return called back on a pair of penalties moments before.
Starting from their 13-yard line, the Wildcats drove the field in the final moments thanks in large part to a 73-yard run by Vasinko, who finished with 123 yards.
“We committed a dumb penalty, but we got a nice gash,” Reitz said. “It was a total team effort, and we've been looking for that all year.”
Connellsville started strong, taking the opening kickoff and driving 61 yards on six plays, which ended with a Jordan McCrae 25-yard run as the Falcons gained a 7-0 edge. McCrae finished with 117 yards.
On their next possession, the Falcons' were in position to build on their lead as Zachary Cree, who finished with 121 yards on eight carries, ripped off a 77-yard run that gave Connellsville first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. But the Falcons came up empty when Latrobe's Alec Hoopes blocked a field-goal attempt.
Connellsville had another drive stall in Latrobe territory after a botched snap in the second quarter before Latrobe tied it when Vasinko scampered in on a 1-yard run. The Falcons had a chance to take the lead just before halftime, but Hoopes blocked another field-goal attempt.
“Give Latrobe credit, but we found a way to lose,” Connellsville coach Dave McDonald said.
Connellsville had another opportunity go by the wayside in the third when quarterback Jade Maher tried to score from the 1-yard line, but he fumbled in the end zone for a touchback.
Latrobe took the lead midway through the fourth when Carns, who had 23 carries for 118 yards, scored on a 15-yard run. Connellsville tied it when McCrae bolted down the left sideline for a 24-yard score, but that set the stage for Latrobe's winning drive.
After a timeout, Latrobe faced third-and-16 from the 19-yard line. Instead of setting up for a field-goal attempt, the Wildcats went for the win and were rewarded when Vasinko caught the ball in the left flat and raced in for the score.
“This is a life lesson,” McDonald said. “This is why when you go to work, you put in an honest day's work or when you have a test, you study hard. When you don't take advantage of an opportunity on the field, in the classroom or at work, it hurts.”
Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.