Thomas Jefferson's passing game overwhelms Belle Vernon
Joe Carroll was well within reach of becoming the 20th player in PIAA history to throw for 400 yards in a game. If that wasn't enough, he also had a shot at setting his school's single-game passing record — and even an outside chance at the WPIAL mark.
That was until coach Bill Cherpak told his senior quarterback to take a seat on the bench … at halftime.
Carroll threw for 376 first-half yards and five touchdowns — all to Zach Schademan — as Thomas Jefferson remained unbeaten with a 57-13 win over Belle Vernon on Friday night at Jim Weir Stadium in a Big 9 Conference game.
Carroll came 36 yards short of Peter Winovich's single-game record of 412, set in 2003 against Keystone Oaks, and 73 shy of the believed WPIAL record of 449 yards set by Shenango's Rocco Colavecchia in 2006. The WPIAL doesn't keep records, so Colavecchia's total is accepted as the WPIAL mark.
“Trust me, there was no thought at all of putting him out there in the second half,” Cherpak said. “Even if I knew, he wasn't going back out there.”
That didn't prevent Carroll from urging Cherpak for one more series, even if he wasn't aware how close he was to breaking a couple of records.
“Yeah, I wanted to go out there,” Carroll said. “I am not disappointed, though. We knew it was a big game for them to get into the playoffs, and we knew they were going to come to play. It's a team game, so individual records don't matter.”
But the Carroll-to-Schademan combination is becoming lethal.
Schademan tied the school record he set three weeks ago with five touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 247 yards — one catch and 18 yards shy of school records.
“Sometimes we do feel like we can't be stopped,” he said. “We had a lot of underneath stuff working tonight.”
It doesn't help opponents that TJ (7-0, 6-0) goes with such an up-tempo game.
“You can't make adjustments,” Cherpak said. “They wanted to make some adjustments but just couldn't do it.
Carroll, who has three five-touchdown games and one six-touchdown game this season, has thrown for 1,490 yards and 28 touchdowns. Schademan upped his season total to 40 receptions for 814 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Cherpak knows a running game is going to be needed as his team heads into the playoffs.
“That's just the way it is,” he said. “We are going to run into teams in the playoffs that will be able to match up with some of our receivers better.”
The game started off in a strange way. The opening kickoff was fumbled by Derrick Powell and returned by Chase Winovich to the Jaguars' 7-yard line. Jake Farrell scored a play later to give TJ a 6-0 lead.
The ensuing kickoff by Evan Danscak was popped up around midfield, where Matt McCloskey caught the Jaguars (2-4, 2-5) off-guard and rambled 48 yards for a score to take a 7-6 lead 21 seconds into the game.
It was all Carroll-to-Schademan after that. The two hooked up on touchdown passes of 39, 6, 11 and 37 yards in the next nine minutes as Thomas Jefferson built a 34-7 lead.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org