North Catholic upsets Rochester to reach semifinals
P.J. Fulmore scored three second-half touchdowns, including a 45-yard reception from quarterback Adam Sharlow, as No. 6 North Catholic held off No. 3 Rochester, 22-15, in a Class A WPIAL quarterfinal game at Dormont Memorial Stadium.
The upset victory sets up a semifinal showdown with No. 2 Sto-Rox (10-1), which defeated Union, 33-8.
North Catholic (9-2) overcame another strong performance from Rochester's Dante Marsick, who rushed for 140 yards on 24 carries and scored his 32nd touchdown of the season on a 3-yard run in the third quarter.
Marsick added 96 receiving yards on five catches, but Rochester could not keep Fulmore out of the end zone. The sophomore rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries and paced the Trojans with touchdown runs of 20 and 10 yards, along with his TD catch.
“Scoring three touchdowns doesn't mean anything if we do not win,” Fulmore said. “But we won the game, and that is all I care about.”
Looking for their fourth consecutive semifinal appearance, Rochester (9-2) was flagged for nine penalties for 65 yards and committed two costly turnovers that led to 10 North Catholic points.
The Rams pulled to within 22-15 on Ben Richko's 23-yard touchdown pass to Alyjah Elmore. But North Catholic's defense, led by junior defensive end Ryan Long, held Rochester, and the Trojans ran out the clock.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “Anytime you play Rochester, you are the underdog. I think we caught them a little off guard.”
The Rams controlled the clock and the yardage for much of the first half but watched as North Catholic built a 3-0 lead behind Mike Tarasovich's 23-yard field goal.
Rochester took more than nine minutes off the clock on 14 consecutive runs to the Trojans' 15-yard line, but the Rams turned the ball over as Richko's short pass fell incomplete. Fulmore made a key play on defense when he intercepted Richko in the end zone to keep the game scoreless.
“I'm proud of my kids,” Rochester coach Gene Matsook said. “We overcame a lot of adversity and kept playing hard. Give credit to North Catholic. They played a good game tonight.”
Brian J. Duermeyer is a freelance writer.