Long pass sparks Highlands comeback
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It was one of those moments when time seems to slow down.
Highlands sophomore wide receiver Chris Fick stood wide open behind Indiana's defensive backs and waited for sophomore quarterback Blake Leri's home-run ball.
Fick caught the pass, spun 180 degrees, brushed off a diving defender and sprinted about 30 yards to complete the 70-yard, go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Highlands added an insurance touchdown and held on for its first victory of the season by defeating Indiana, 28-17, on Friday in a Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference matchup at Golden Rams Stadium.
Propelled mainly by sophomores and juniors, Highlands (1-4, 1-4) rallied for 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to knock off Indiana (1-4, 1-4).
The turning point came when Highlands was faced with a third-and-21 at its 30-yard line.
Leri scrambled around, kept the play alive and apparently fooled the defensive backs into believing he would run before launching a long pass down the left side of the field.
Fick's touchdown and senior Michael Masarik's extra point gave Highlands its first lead of the game, 21-17, with 8:16 to play.
“I was looking back, waiting,” Fick said. “I thought the play was dead. Then I saw the ball.”
Leri completed 9 of 12 passes for 174 yards and rushed for 36 yards on 12 carries. But his highlight hookup with Fick in a desperate situation was the backbreaker.
“That play killed us,” Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas said. “He wasn't even running when he caught the ball. He was stationary.”
Highlands also received a standout performance from 5-foot-7, 145-pound sophomore running back Elijah Jackson, who rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and sealed the victory with an interception late in the fourth quarter.
“What people don't realize is Elijah's a sophomore, as is the quarterback,” Highlands coach Sam Albert said. “Elijah runs hard every time he touches the ball. We're really young. We have three seniors. I'm so proud of our kids.”
In the first half, the teams traded touchdowns and went into the intermission tied at 14. Late in the second quarter, Highlands recovered a fumble at the Indiana 33-yard line.
On the following play, Leri hit junior tight end Allan Cratsenberg with a 31-yard pass. Then the versatile, 6-foot-3, 220-pound Cratsenberg lined up at quarterback and pushed into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown with 2:08 left before halftime.
Cratsenberg finished with three catches for 83 yards and made numerous tackles while playing outside linebacker.
Indiana was hit by a major setback when dual-threat quarterback Dequan West left early in the second quarter with a hip injury. In his short appearance, West rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and completed 2 of 6 passes for 19 yards.
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-224-2696.
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.
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Pitt oversight of background checks for youth camp staffers was spotty, audit finds
- PennDOT announces Parkway closings and single lanes for next week, weather permitting
- Loose barges on the Mon highlight woes of winter’s end
- Pittsburgh has enough salt despite delivery refusal on Thursday, official says
- Train hits PennDOT truck plow in Indiana County, driver not hurt
- Angry fans cited in shortage of refs in Western Pennsylvania
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- Franklin Regional robotics team ready for FIRST Recycle Rush