Yough routs Southmoreland to secure playoff berth
Yough coach Mark Crovak is warming up to the thought of being cold at the end of another game.
As the final seconds of a 45-13 victory over Class-AA Interstate opponent Southmoreland (3-6, 3-5) ticked off the clock, the Yough players emptied the water coolers over their coach's head as he raised his arms in celebration.
“I love it. I'd do it all the time,” Crovak said. “It's only the second time I've gotten it, last week and this week. It's cold, but I could get used to it.”
Yough (5-4, 5-3) controlled its own playoff fate, and the win has them in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The playoff trip has been a long time coming, especially for senior quarterback Tyler Donahue.
“My first year here, four years ago, we went 0-9, and (Donahue) was here for that,” Crovak said. “We told those guys who were freshmen that if they stuck around until they were seniors that they'd have a program they could be proud of, and we're here.”
The four-year starting quarterback said that awful first season was worth it in the long run.
“Really it's been amazing,” Donahue said. “I'm glad we went 0-9 that first season. I got to see that the hard work means something. It's more rewarding knowing that we earned it.”
After Southmoreland took a 13-6 lead on an 89-yard Brennan Bunner touchdown pass to Justin Livengood midway through the second quarter, the Cougars had seen enough.
Donahue led Yough to 39 unanswered points on 11-of-19 passing for 221 yards and three touchdowns. He added 54 yards on nine carries, including a 12-yard score on the ground.
“We knew we weren't playing at our highest potential and we expected to put more points on the board,” Donahue said. “I just told the guys, ‘we've got to step it up. We want a playoff game. We don't want our season to end like this.'”
The quarterback's words of motivation certainly reached his teammates.
Donahue found Clayton Waldron on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds left in the first half to give his team the lead, 18-3.
The defense turned in a playoff ready performance, headlined by junior Eric Baer's 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Southmoreland junior running back Jake Pisula managed only about three yards per carry, needing 33 carries to get his 103 yards.
“(The defense) really just came through,” Donahue said. “Really, they're the reason we won this game. Them scoring is a big part of us winning.”
Thanks to a Greensburg Central Catholic win over Jeanette, Yough secured the third seed for the playoffs.
“Our expectations are a lot greater now,” Donahue said. “We expect to win. We expect to get as far as we can. We don't have any limitations.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org