Yough downs Greensburg Central Catholic on Hail Mary

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 11:27 p.m.

Yough used every bit of the 48 minutes of regulation against Greensburg Central Catholic on Friday night at Cougar Mountain to pull off a stunning victory.

Sitting 43 yards from the end zone in a tied game with 5.7 seconds remaining, senior quarterback Tyler Donahue heaved a pass up for grabs in the end zone, and teammate Jordan Bryan came down with the ball to give the Cougars a 38-31 Interstate Conference win that won't soon be forgotten.

“We knew we had to put the ball in the end zone,” Yough coach Mark Crovak said. “I think Tyler threw the ball 65 yards in the air, which is phenomenal for a high school kid to be able to throw the ball that far. … We were lucky. You don't draw something like that up. You just hope for the best.”

Donahue completed 20 of 30 passes for 190 yards to go with two touchdowns and an interception while also accounting for 134 yards and a score on the ground.

“He's experienced, savvy, been here for three years as a starter, and he's great leader for them and did a tremendous job tonight, so my hat's off to him,” Centurions coach Dan Mahoney said of Donahue.

Yough (4-4, 4-3) seemed to have the momentum heading into at halftime, leading 17-7 after a 51-yard touchdown pass from Eric Baer to Joe Pleva. Meanwhile, standout Centurions running back Tyler Balla limped off the field with a knee injury on the ensuing kickoff after being held to fewer than 20 yards rushing in the first half.

But Balla and Greensburg Central Catholic (4-4, 4-3) battled back. Balla scored on a 73-yard run midway through the third quarter to give the Centurions a 21-17 lead.

Balla, one of the WPIAL's leading rushers, finished the game with 171 yards on 21 carries.

“He's a tough kid,” Mahoney said. “He never stops.”

But Donahue quickly countered with a long scoring run of his own, scoring from 64 yards out just over a minute later to give the Cougars the lead again.

A Clayton Waldron 1-yard run knotted the score at 31-31, and the game appeared to be destined for overtime, but a Thomas Pellis pass was intercepted by the Cougars with under a minute remaining to set them up for the winning score.

“I've been coaching high school football for a lot of years. I've never seen a game like that,” Crovak said. “That was incredible.

“It's a shame somebody had to lose that game.”

With the win, Yough jumps ahead of the Centurions in the conference standings for fourth place and controls its own playoff destiny entering next week's regular-season finale against Southmoreland.

Greensburg Central Catholic also controls its own fate, needing a win over Jeannette to surge past the Jayhawks and earn a playoff bid.

“I told them I can't be more proud of the way they played,” Mahoney said, “so I think it's something to build on actually after you get over the initial loss of these first few hours.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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