Jeannette's Sanders leads comeback over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic
GioVonne Sanders' right foot got Jeannette back in the game.
Both of his feet combined to help the Jayhawks win it.
Sanders set up a safety with a coffin-corner punt and accounted for three total touchdowns as No. 3 Jeannette rallied from a 14-0 third-quarter deficit to beat No. 2 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 22-14, in a WPIAL Class A semifinal game at Valley Memorial Stadium.
For good measure, Sanders sealed the victory by intercepting North Catholic quarterback Erick Taylor with under 2 minutes remaining.
“Superman's got an ‘S,' he's got a ‘G' for GioVonne,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said.
Jeannette (11-1) advances to the WPIAL Class A championship game, where the Jayhawks will face No. 1 Clairton (12-0) and try to win their first title since 2007.
Back then, Terrelle Pryor was Jeannette's quarterback and top playmaker. Sanders filled that role Friday night.
With running back Kareem Hall still hobbled by a left ankle injury, Sanders needed to come up big.
North Catholic (11-1) held Jeannette's offense in check throughout the first half and the early portion of the third quarter as the Trojans held a 14-0 lead.
The Jayhawks' special teams and defense helped them rally. Sanders' punt was downed inside the 1-yard line, and Jefferson Jones dropped North Catholic running back Mario Latronica in the end zone for a safety on the next play.
After a safety kickoff, Jeannette took advantage of a short field and scored on Sanders' 31-yard pass to Robert Kennedy.
“We had a great punt on the punt team, and our defense got really hyped,” Sanders said. “We all came together as a team, went all out and stopped them.”
The defense made another play on North Catholic's next drive, as Mark Wormack recovered a fumbled pitch and returned it inside the 5-yard line.
Sanders gave the Jayhawks the lead on third down, when he rolled to the right sideline on an attempted pass and ended up scrambling across the field and diving inside the left pylon for a 4-yard touchdown run. A block by Wormack helped free Sanders.
“They covered it well, and I was just trying to make something happen,” Sanders said.
Sanders, who passed for 90 yards and rushed for 71, added a 10-yard touchdown run on another scramble in the fourth quarter.
Latronica rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown and added a receiving score for North Catholic, while Taylor passed for 138 yards. But the Trojans' offense struggled after Latronica's 10-yard touchdown run gave them a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter.
North Catholic's final six drives ended in two punts, a safety, a fumble, a turnover on downs and an interception. The Trojans drove inside the Jeannette 40 before Sanders' clinching interception. Tremayne Briston sacked Taylor twice on the final drive.
“I think we kind of lost our sight and our objective of what we came out to do the second half,” North Catholic coach Jason Gildon said. “We let it get away from us. Jeannette's a good team, and we let them stick around. They have some good players on their team, and they were able to make plays when they needed.”
Jeannette will play Eastern Conference rival Clairton on Nov. 28 at Heinz Field. The Bears beat the Jayhawks, 56-29, in the regular season.