Montour clinches 7th straight playoff berth with win over Blackhawk
The faces have changed, but Montour's postseason streak continues.
“Nobody thought we'd be 5-2,” said Montour quarterback Tynen Greer, who threw three touchdown passes Thursday night in a 31-14 victory over Parkway visitor Blackhawk at Thomas Birko Stadium. “Everybody was doubting us, but it doesn't matter. We're in the playoffs.”
The victory clinched Montour (5-2, 4-2) a playoff berth for the seventh consecutive season. After losing two of their first four games, the Spartans have won three straight in what could have been a down year.
“Our kids are getting better,” Montour coach Lou Cerro said. “We're playing a lot of young kids still, but they're maturing.”
With two Parkway games left, Montour can't finish worse than 4-4 in the conference. Both teams with four loses, Ambridge and Chartiers Valley, already have lost to Montour.
Blackhawk's playoff hopes are slim. The Cougars (1-6, 1-5) would need to claim the wild card in Class AAA as they did last year.
Blackhawk quarterback Chandler Kincade left in the fourth quarter with leg cramps and was taken to an ambulance. The Akron recruit completed 13 of 27 passes for 168 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Painful cramps have been a common ailment for Kincade, coach Joe Hamilton said.
But even with him on the field, Blackhawk's offense struggled. The Cougars rushed for 25 yards on 24 carries. That included minus-19 yards for Kincade who was sacked three times.
“We just didn't execute anything very well tonight,” Hamilton said. “Give credit to Montour. ... We just didn't play very well.”
Montour's defense had allowed 27.7 points per game this season, including 56 points combined in wins over Ambridge and Chartiers Valley the past two weeks. On Thursday, the Spartans were more steady. Two interceptions by junior Stephen Fedyshyn highlighted a solid effort.
“We've been playing solid defense the past few weeks, but this is the most consistent we've been,” Cerro said. “We put a full game together, finally.”
Three touchdown passes by Greer let Montour lead at halftime, 28-7. The scoring passes covered 7, 18 and 7 yards. A 40-yard fumble return by Tom Sylvester was the Spartans' other first-half score. The 28 points were the most Montour had scored in any half this season.
“Our offense may not look pretty, but Tynen runs around and makes plays,” Cerro said, “and kids are getting open.”
Montour's scoring started with a 7-yard touchdown catch by Donald Payne on its first possession. The Spartans covered 60 yards in eight plays, which included a 21-yard run by Greer.
When Blackhawk fumbled on its fourth play, the Spartans scored again. Sylvester recovered the fumble by Blackhawk's Tim Mancini and returned it 40 yards along the sideline for a touchdown. At 7:20 of the first quarter, Montour led, 14-0.
A 15-yard touchdown catch by Blackhawk's Tyler Engle cut Montour's lead in half. With 1:50 left in the first quarter, Montour led, 14-7. The drive needed to cover only 35 yards after a 10-yard punt from Montour.
In the second quarter, Montour added two more touchdown passes by Greer. The first touchdown was an 18-yarder to Tyler Carswell, and the second was a 7-yarder to Cole Macek. Greer completed 5 of 11 passes for 103 yards in the first half, and also rushed for 59.
In the third quarter, the teams combined for just 10 points. Blackhawk's Benjamin Smith caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kincade. Adam Check added a 26-yard field goal for Montour, which entered the fourth ahead, 31-14.
“If you're watching us, it's starting to come together,” Greer said. “The first couple weeks we were shaky, but it's great to see these kids mold into players.”