North Catholic routs Leechburg, wraps up perfect regular season
For the first time in 16 years, and only the second time in school history, North Catholic finished the regular season undefeated.
The No. 2 Trojans (9-0, 8-0) secured the feat by defeating Leechburg, 35-14, in Friday's Eastern Conference game.
“That was one of our goals this year, to go undefeated in the regular season,” North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “So we accomplished one of those goals.”
While the Trojans' offense came up just short of their 39 points-per-game average, their defense upheld a reputation for stinginess by allowing just 183 yards to the Blue Devils (2-7, 2-6). Most of those yards came against North Cathlolic's second-string defense.
Trojan running back Jerome Turner and wildcat quarterback P.J. Fulmore were too much for the Leechburg defense.
Turner started the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown. The three-play drive covered 45 yards.
Turner finished the night with 77 yards on eight carries.
After a Leechburg three-and-out, Ryan Kirby hit Thadeus Benson for a 12-yard score, making it 14-0 after one quarter. Earlier in the drive, Kirby hit Benson for 23 yards to convert a fourth-and-23.
Both offenses stalled in the second quarter, until North Catholic blocked a Leechburg punt to set the Trojans up at the Blue Devils' 19-yard line.
One play later, Fulmore took a direct snap and dodged right, breaking multiple tackles, for a touchdown.
The Trojans headed off with field with a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Fulmore led the Trojans with 80 yards on 13 carries.
North Catholic held Leechburg to 16 yards in the first half.
West Deer native Maario Latronica of North Catholic opened the second half with a 15-yard touchdown run. After a Leechburg fumble, Turner put the game away when he went in from 10 yards out, this time carrying a pile into the end zone to make it 35-0.
Leechburg refused to go away, though.
Senior Alex Kalmar opened the fourth quarter scoring on a 14-yard run. Kalmar appeared to do a limbo-like move to dodge three Trojans.
Senior Kristopher Smith ended the game with a 26-yard touchdown run. He was the game's leading rusher with 112 yards on 15 carries.
“I give lots of credit to these seniors,” Leechburg coach Mark George said. “They care about this program and wanted to make sure they did everything they could to improve it.
“They really came together this year and never quit.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.