Clairton survives scare
By Josh Yohe
Published: Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, 1:04 a.m.
At one point, Clairton coach Tom Nola threw his headphones into the air.
He hung on to the headphones before they hit the ground, just like his team held on. Barely.
Clairton won its 48th consecutive game in stunningly unconvincing fashion, beating a Chartiers-Houston team, 22-20, that it usually handles with ease.
“Not our best game,” Nola said. “Not even close.”
Clairton played without 12 players, who are academically ineligible or unable to play for other off-field matters.
The leader of the Bears wasn't pleased with his team's performance, nor was Tyler Boyd happy that Clairton was depleted. Boyd, who was held to only 84 yards, was exhausted following a game that saw Clairton essentially play without back-ups because of its lack of depth.
“It's just very disappointing in every possible way,” Boyd said. “It's disappointing that we have so many people out of the lineup right now. We had no depth at all, and it was a hot night. We were exhausted. I kept telling guys in the huddle, ‘I know you're out of gas. I am too. But keep on fighting.'”
The Bears had just enough fight to avoid what would have been one of the biggest upsets in WPIAL history.
Nola's team most recently dropped a game in Week 1 of the 2009 season at Laurel. That game was very much on the coach's mind. The three-time defending state champions were shorthanded and sluggish from the outset.
“I kept thinking about the Laurel game and I really was nervous,” Nola said. “Chartiers-Houston played a good game, and we just couldn't do anything right. We just kept making so many mistakes, over and over again.”
Clairton's normally nasty defense allowed a plethora of big plays, including two of which went for more than 70 yards. Chartiers-Houston tariled at halftime, 14-13.
After Clairton appeared to pull away in the second half, the Bucs again responded. A touchdown with two minutes left pulled Chartiers-Houston within two points. Boyd recovered an onside kick, and the game was put away when Bryon Cliffard scampered for a first-down run later in the possession.
The Bears' inability to run effectively was notable. Playing without multiple starters on the offensive line, the Bears simply couldn't run the ball with any reliability. Boyd was stuffed for losses on five occasions.
“The offensive line really struggled,” Nola said. “It was a big concern of mine going into the season, and it still is. Tyler just had nowhere to go all night.”
Clairton was also its own worst enemy.
The Bears lost three fumbles and committed 14 penalties, including a bizarre call that saw Boyd penalized for hurdling a would-be tackler.
Boyd was displeased with every aspect of his team following the game.
“There are a lot of people who need to step it up right now,” he said. “There are a lot of people slacking on this team. Tonight wasn't good enough.”
Boyd is well aware of the fact that this final score will create shockwaves around the WPIAL. But he doesn't care. Clairton has won the state championship in each of his first three years, and he doesn't expect that streak to change.
After Week 3, most of Clairton's team will be intact.
“I'm not worried about what people are saying about us after this game,” he said. “We didn't play well. We need to be better. But we're going to be fine.”
Nola sure hopes so.
The veteran coach let out of sigh of relief following the contest. Neither of his quarterbacks — Armani Ford or Clifford — played particularly well, his offensive line is in shambles and his normally unbeatable defense endured communication issues all game.
Clairton looked more vulnerable than at any point during its 48-game winning streak.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- New Pirates pitcher Eppley brings special delivery to team’s staff
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc
- Suspect in East Liberty slayings may be part of murder-for-hire case
- Martin would consider extending stay with Pirates
- Qualifications of Peduto nominee for building inspection chief come up short
- U.S. employers add 175K jobs despite harsh weather
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends