USO tops Allderdice for program's 2nd City League championship
USO's passing combination of quarterback Ronald Brown and receiver Marcus Johnson has been lighting up the scoreboard all season at Cupples Stadium.
Saturday afternoon, the combo came through again as a 30-yard pass from Brown to Johnson with 6:04 remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good as USO won its second City crown in its three-year existence, 33-20, over Allderdice in the Pittsburgh City League title game.
The Wildcats (9-0) will enter a PIAA Class AAA subregional against District 5's Somerset in a game tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Cupples Stadium.
An official announcement is expected Monday.
“I didn't feel right today, for some reason,” USO coach Lou Berry said. “Allderdice is a very tough opponent. With me serving as head coach and defensive coordinator, we just couldn't get in the groove. These kids are resilient and you just have to continue to believe.”
Allderdice (5-5) will have next weekend off and enter the PIAA Class AAAA tournament against Erie McDowell on the weekend of Nov. 15-16.
The Dragons, going for their first City League championship since 1967, had taken a 20-19 lead with 10:25 to go on Marquis Martin's second touchdown of the game and an extra point by Alex Hahn.
USO got favorable field position on a punt, setting up a pass on the sixth play of the series, where Brown rolled left and found Johnson alone in the end zone.
“It was all in the procedure,” Brown said of the scoring play. “The line was blocking and we got what we got. We just stayed calm when we fell behind and knew everything would work out.”
Brown threw for 267 yards Saturday, giving the junior 2,948 yards and 27 touchdown passes this season.
After falling behind, 7-0, in the first quarter, Brown got the Wildcats going by tossing a 59-yard pass to junior Stephon Hawthorne.
Two touchdowns by running back Abner Roberts gave USO a 19-7 lead.
But a pair of short touchdown drives put Allderdice in the driver's seat.
A bad snap on a punt gave the Dragons the ball on the USO 24.
Three plays later, Allderdice quarterback James Jackson found Jamir Powell on a slant pattern for a 17-yard scoring play.
After Timothy Jackson's interception gave the Dragons possession at the USO 13, Martin scored his ninth touchdown of the season five plays later.
Following Johnson's touchdown, Allderdice was stalled and Robert Andrews pounced on an errant snap in punt formation, giving USO some breathing room, ahead 31-20, with 4:41 to go.
A safety when James Jackson was tackled in the end zone with five seconds remaining concluded the scoring.
“We had a chance to win it until the end of it when a couple of things fell apart,” Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett said. “That hurt us and you saw the result when you turn the ball over twice down in their end.”
Hawthorne caught five passes for 117 yards and was named the game's most valuable player.
George Guido is a freelance writer.