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Late goal-line stand lifts Perry over mourning USO

| Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, 11:02 p.m.
Perry's Ahmad Turner leaps into the end zone for a TD against USO in the first half at Cupples Stadium on Friday October 19, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

The Perry Commodores took a stand that they are still the pre-eminent program in a revamped City League.

It took a goal-line stand to do so.

The Commodores defense shut down four USO plays from the Perry 1 in the final three minutes, preserving a 12-6 win at Cupples Stadium on Friday night.

“That was huge,” Perry coach Bill Gallagher said. “The kids had their backs against the wall, and our defensive staff did a great job. They did it. It was awesome. That was fantastic.”

Perry (6-2, 5-0) earned the No. 1 seed in the semifinals and will play Allderdice next week.

USO (4-2, 4-1) — a cooperative agreement between three Pittsburgh schools — won the City League postseason title last season in its first year as a team. USO was mourning the loss of two-way starting lineman Ne'Ondre Harbour, who was shot and killed Sunday night as an innocent bystander in Garfield, according to Pittsburgh Police.

Coach Lou Berry said he was “especially close” with Harbour, having grown up with Harbour's mother, aunts and uncles.

“Once we got through the (pregame) ceremony, we knew what was at stake, and we definitely wanted to finish the year as regular-season champs,” Berry said. “So, everyone was kind of rallying around one another to try to make that happen. I just felt like, no disrespect to Perry, they played a great game, but there were a lot of miscues on our end, penalties on our end, a lot of missed opportunities on our end.”

Perry quarterback Ahmed Turner and running back Curtis Edmonds each had 95 rushing yards.

Midway through the first quarter, Turner sprinted for a 69-yard touchdown. With 46 seconds left in the half, he scored on an 8-yard run that made it 12-0.

But USO went 65 yards in 24 seconds, and Akil Young hit Marcus Johnson for a 24-yard touchdown pass to cut Perry's halftime lead in half.

Perry managed only two first downs in the second half and none in the final 19 minutes, and USO had its own problems moving the ball. But Young's 24-yard scramble on fourth-and-1 and a 19-yard pass to Roberts put USO at the Perry 1. USO ran four plays up the middle. Three plays later, a 19-yard pass to Roberts put USO at the Perry 1. USO ran four plays up the middle, and on at least two of them, several of its players signaled it had scored a touchdown.

“The (Perry) players were saying we got in; they knew we got in,” said Young, who was 11 for 28 for 184 yards. “But I can't say much about the call because you can't do much about the call. We've just got to make sure we don't leave the game in the refs' hands.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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