No. 2 North Catholic, Fulmore edge Avonworth
Versatile playmaker P.J. Fulmore scored a 1-yard touchdown with 4:08 left in the fourth quarter as No. 2 seed North Catholic came from behind to defeat Eastern Conference foe Avonworth, 14-7, in a Class A quarterfinal at Hampton's Fridley Field.
The victory moved North Catholic (11-0) back into a semifinal matchup with No. 6 Neshannock, which defeated Monessen, 35-6. The Trojans edged the Lancers, 21-14, in Week 8.
Filling in once again for injured quarterback Adam Sharlow, Fulmore made sure North Catholic continued its dominance over Avonworth (9-2).
The Trojans also defeated the Antelopes, 21-12, in Week 6, although Sharlow was the difference maker in that game.
Running the wildcat in the rematch, Fulmore carried the offense, as the Division I prospect rushed 37 times for 175 yards and his fourth-quarter score. The junior also completed 6 of 12 passes for 107 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown to senior Ryan Kirby that gave North Catholic an early 6-0 lead.
“That was a classic North Catholic and Avonworth game,” Trojans coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “(Fulmore) is the real deal.
“I had a gut feeling he would have a big game, and he did.”
The lead stuck for much of four quarters — North Catholic controlled the clock with Fulmore gaining tough yards — until Jamal Hughley's 25-yard touchdown pass from Matt Donovan put Avonworth on top 7-6.
The Trojans responded with an 11-play, 79-yard drive that featured two long third-down conversions, including a 40-yard strike from Fulmore to Kirby, that ended with Fulmore's decisive touchdown.
“This is a tough one to take,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “(Fulmore) is a heck of an athlete and a whale of a player. He was their one-man show tonight.”
Donovan completed 13 of 22 passes for 119 yards. He also was intercepted in the end zone by the Trojans' Brennan Sefick in the third quarter. That turnover came on the heels of North Catholic's only turnover, as Fulmore was intercepted by Andrew Broadus a drive earlier.
Donovan and the Antelopes had another shot to reclaim the lead, but a last-chance drive that reached midfield stalled after an offensive pass interference penalty and consecutive unsportsmanlike conduct calls flipped field position. Officials moved the ball from North Catholic's side of the field to the Antelope's 8-yard line, and Fulmore and the Trojans were able to run out the clock.
“There's a lot of pressure,” Fulmore said. “But as a competitor, you always want the ball in your hands in the clutch.”
Brian J. Duermeyer is a freelance writer.