PIAA Class A play of the game: Clairton's score just before halftime sent powerful message
HERSHEY — The Clairton offense has a reputation for quick strikes and scoring touchdowns in droves.
So it was somewhat stunning when Clairton, leading 6-0 in the PIAA Class A championship game against Dunmore, opened the second quarter at its 1-yard line and plodded down the field 97 yards in 18 plays all the way to the Bucks' 2. More surprising was, on the 19th play, after draining 8:17 off the clock, the Bears came away with nothing as Tyler Boyd's fourth-down pass was too high for receiver Terrish Webb at the right sideline of the end zone.
The Bears defense did its part and forced Dunmore to go three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and Clairton took over on its 45 with 2:40 remaining in the half.
The Bears needed an offensive spark to give the Bucks something to think about at halftime.
“There was a lot of pressure on that drive,” Clairton quarterback Armani Ford said. “We had to hurry up and move the ball, run the ball and pass and get out of bounds, and I had to get the guys the ball.”
Ford was the catalyst as he hit Webb for 15 yards to start. Then, after a Clairton penalty, he connected with Boyd for 24 yards and a first down to the Dunmore 21. But the Bears needed something more than another stalled drive in the red zone.
That's when the coaching staff called Flanker Left Zip, 36 Power Pass.
“That was the big turning point of the game,” Ford said. “That was the breaking point because we knew that if they scored, they'd have had a chance to kick an extra point and get ahead of us, but that play boosted us up.”
It was a pass play designed to go deep down the right sideline for Webb, but the Kent State University recruit, who caught seven passes for 100 yards, broke off the route and stopped along the sideline at the 10-yard line.
“They were playing deep because they didn't want us to get any deep balls,” Webb said. “So I just kind of cut my route off short.”
Webb made the catch at the 10, shrugged off a would-be tackler who grabbed him by the facemask and broke for the goal line. Webb was hit near the 3 but dove and broke the plane to give Clairton a 12-0 lead. Ford then found Webb for the two-point conversion to give the Bears a 14-0 lead with 40 seconds to play in the half, a lead that helped them win their fourth consecutive PIAA Class A title, 20-0, over the Bucks.
“When I see that end zone, it's like I smell it,” Webb said. “Ain't nothing going to stop me from getting to that end zone.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1977.