Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic dominates Clarion in PIAA semifinals
DUBOIS — One more win.
That's all that stands between the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and a PIAA Class A championship after the Cardinals dismantled District 9 champ Clarion, 39-12, on Saturday afternoon at DuBois' EJ Mansell Stadium.
The Trojans (15-0) controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Bobcats, 378-167. North Catholic's defense forced four turnovers and held Clarion more than 300 yards under its season average (470).
“Our game plan was to run the ball on them and control the clock,” North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “Our offensive line did a great job. I've been saying it all year: They are the best offensive line in single-A football. They're the best O-line we've ever had at North Catholic, that's for sure.”
The Bobcats (14-1) played without second-leading rusher Ian Corbett, and Damien Slike, the team's top ball carrier, was limited to six carries for 27 yards before being sidelined at the half.
On the other side of the ball, the Trojans offensive line and ground attack controlled the game, outrushing Clarion, 378-14. Clarion threw for 153 yards, with senior receiver Cody Hearst hauling in eight catches for 109 yards.
After junior quarterback PJ Fulmore threw an interception in the end zone on the game's first possession, North Catholic scored on its next three drives to take a 22-0 lead. The Trojans went into the half ahead 29-6.
Fulmore had touchdowns runs of 1, 5 and 5 yards in the first half, and junior Jerome Turner had a 6-yard score. Turner added a 22-yard TD run in the second half as he led all rushers with 19 carries for 177 yards. Junior Michael Tarasovich booted a 23-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to secure the trip to Hersheypark Stadium.
Fulmore finished with 20 carries for 109 yards, and freshman Mario Latronica had 16 carries for 92 yards.
“We've been taking it one game at a time, and that's been our goal,” Ravenstahl said. “And we're excited to go to Hershey.”
North Catholic will play Old Forge (14-1), a 26-7 winner against Steeltown-Highspire, for the state title at 1 p.m. Friday.
Chris Wechtenhiser is a freelance writer.