USO advances to City League title game for 3rd straight season
A week after beating Perry by 30 points and going through the City League regular season undefeated, USO clawed its way to an 8-0 win over fourth-seeded Perry in a City League playoff semifinal matchup Friday night at Cupples Stadium.
The win puts USO in the City League championship game for the third consecutive season, where it will take on Allderdice, which defeated Brashear, 14-10, in the other semifinal Thursday night.
“We were a little bit tight,” USO coach Lou Berry said. “We were the undefeated team, and Perry didn't have anything to lose. They won the championship last year, so we knew as a coaching staff we had to keep the kids motivated.”
The first half was marked by stalled drives and turnovers as the teams were held scoreless in the first half, even though they were able to move the ball consistently.
USO finally scored the game's first points on senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson's 32-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback Ronald Brown with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. Brown's 2-point conversion pass attempt was incomplete.
Perry did what no team had been able to do thus far this season — keep USO's prolific offense in check. USO had scored at least 30 points in each of its games during the regular season, including a 36-6 victory over the Commodores last week.
“Perry was able to put heat on the quarterback with just a four-man rush,” Berry said. “They outplayed us at the line of scrimmage.”
Brown led the USO effort, completing 18 of 32 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. Johnson caught four passes for 87 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Senior running back Gary Reid paced the Commodores offense with 95 yards on 25 carries. Perry drove inside USO's 25-yard line four times in the second half but fumbled the ball away three times.
USO added a safety with 1:50 left to secure the win.
USO will meet Allderdice in the City League championship game Nov. 2. USO defeated Allderdice, 43-14, on Oct. 4.
Berry acknowledged the success USO has had, advancing to the City League championship game for the third straight year.
“It's an honor,” he said. “It's a testament to the hard work the coaches and players have put in. That's why I love working for this team.”
Jeff DeBaldo is a freelance writer.