USO surges back to City League title game
USO lost its first City League game last week by a few inches. On Thursday night, the Wildcats won by a mile.
Akil Young passed for 357 yards and three touchdowns, and USO took advantage of several Brashear mistakes in a 46-6 win in the City League semifinals at Cupples Stadium.
“Everyone was hungry to make plays,” USO coach Lou Berry said. “It was win or go home, so every play counts.”
The Wildcats advanced to next week's championship game at Cupples, where they will meet the winner of Friday's game between Perry and Allderdice.
USO lost its first City League game last week when Perry used a late goal-line stand to beat the Wildcats, 12-6. The Wildcats (5-2) put this one away early. USO tallied a safety on Brashear's second possession when a shotgun snap sailed over quarterback Russell Page's head, which led Page to swat the ball out of the back of the end zone.
Clay Moorefield returned the free kick 65 yards for a touchdown to make it 8-0.
The backbreaking score came on USO's next possession. After a Brashear punt was downed inside the 1-yard line, Young led a nine-play, 99-yard drive that culminated in a 28-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Johnson.
“We lost last week and had a bad taste in our mouth,” Young said. “We wanted to get rid of that taste, and we wanted to jump on them early and play a full game.”
USO widened its lead to 27-0 at halftime after Tayvon Tyler scored on a 7-yard run and Dan Denlinger kicked a 34-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Brashear got on the board in the second half when Page threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Adam Tajuddin. But two TD passes from Young to Michael Wright and a 63-yard interception return by Myles Catlin put the mercy rule into effect.
USO — still dealing with the loss of junior lineman Ne'Ondre Harbour, who was shot and killed Oct. 14 in Garfield — has a chance to claim its second straight championship.
“Things are getting a little better as far as our healing process is concerned,” said Berry, who wore Harbour's No. 50 for the second straight game. “We were able to relax, take a deep breath and play football the way we know how, play the game like Ne'Ondre played.
“When we do that, we're a special team.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.