Simply stated, Middlesex made one more play, while Mercer made a myriad of miscues.
West Middlesex High’s Nate Patten pilfered a Logan Clarke pass with 90 ticks to play Friday night, and the Big Reds football team rolled to its 4th consecutive conquest, 17-14.
In a 14-play drive that consumed approximately 6èminutes and in spite of a trio of holding penalties, Mercer moved from its own 13-yard line to Middlesex’s 10.
However, pressured by blitzing Eric Lucich, Clarke’s 3rd-and-5 pass was picked by Patten at the 5-yard line. Four Trey Staunch runs and 3 Mercer times-out later, the Big Reds (3-0, 4-1) recorded their 4th straight success.
“The heart that it took to win this game was just incredible,” an emotional Middlesex mentor Ed Roberson related. “These kids ... you could just see it in their eyes, that they weren’t going to to give up, that they were gonna pull through. I’m very proud of them.”
A 7-all stalemate at intermission was snapped by Chandler Tyillian’s 24-yard 3rd-quarter field goal, then Staunch’s 3-yard sneak 85 seconds into the 4th frame.
The latter culiminated a 7-play, 99-yard drive drive after the Reds refused Clarke’s 4th-and-1 bid from the 1 with 1:26 left in the 3rd quarter. The highlight of Middlesex’s march was Lucich churning 53 yards on the 4h frame’s 1st play.
Following Staunch’s score, Tyillian’s PAT provided Middlesex with a seemingly safe 17-7 margin.
That lasted all of 11 seconds before Clarke collaborated with T.J. Peters for a 65-yard scoring strike, the 2nd TD for that tandem. Chase Hoffman’s subsequent conversion kick drew the ’Steads within 17-14 with 10:35 remaining.
Middlesex’s ensuing series was short-circuited after 5 plays, and Tyillian’s midfield punt rolled dead at Mercer’s 13 with 7:46 left. From that juncture it seemed as though every time Mercer moved a stride forward the ’Steads stepped backwards twice.
Despite the 3 holding penalties Mercer moved to Middlesex’s 43, but was forced to punt before the Reds returned the favor — Middlesex’s punt-return team was whistled for holding.
With a 4th-down do-over, Clarke connected with Brayton Edwards for a drive-sustaining 7-yard gain.
Five plays later — including a dropped, potential, go-ahead TD pass as well as a drive-stopping end zone interception ruled a trap — the Region 1-A rivalry ended on Patten’s pick, which made Clarke’s clutch 15-for-33, 270-yard, 2-TD passing performance moot.
After missing the 2012 postseason, Mercer (3-1, 4-1) is on a mission to return. Friday night’s 9 penalties and 1 turnover were a setback, though not a roadblock in the mind of Mercer mentor Pat McClearn.
“We just had too many opportunities we didn’t take care of,” admitted McClearn, amid Middlesex’s victory bell banging in the distance. “We left ... probably two scores off the board in the first half, then the drive down there (3rd quarter), then came up short at the end. That’s too good of a football team to do that against.
“But I know our kids are gonna play hard and keep battlin,’” McClearn continued. “We were tellin’ them, there was ten minutes to go in the game at that point in time (down 17-7), so they were gonna keep tryin’ to make plays. I can’t fault the effort.
“I’m very proud of the way our guys played, but like I said, too many opportunties we didn’t take advantage of, and that’s too good of a team to do that against,” McClearn reiterated.
Though elated, Roberson was relieved that his Reds rose up.
“Pat McClearn is one of the best coaches I’ve ever met; he just does a great job. Those kids are always ready to play, and they play hard every, single game,” Roberson praised. “Region 1 is not an easy place to play football. If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game every night, you’re not gonna win.
“I’ve just overwhelmed, I’m so proud of these guys. They just did what they had to do, and they grew up (Friday) night,” Roberson related.
The stoic Staunch was stout, though not spectacular, passing for 111 yards and rushing for 34, while Lucich lent a game-high 86 yards rushing. Tyillian, who tallied a 15-yard 2nd-quarter TD run contributed 41 yards rushing and 4 receptions for another 68 yards. His rushing total was skewed when, in punt formation, a center snap sailed over his head, resulting in a 26-yard loss that seemingly set up Mercer. That was before Middlesex’s mettle at the goal line.
“I’m just doin’ my part, but we’re all the same, we’re all one team,” Tyillian explained. “One player doin’ his part, but everybody’s gotta help out, too. ... I’m doing my part, doing everything I can to help our team out.
“We’re all emotional. It’s (Roberson’s) first year, so we’re gotta get him these wins and keep going,” Tyillian added.
“ ... It’s an awesome feeling to win a homecoming. It’s my first homecoming here,” Roberson related. “The way this community has embraced me and embraced what we’re trying to do with these kids has just been awesome!
“We knew we were gonna have to do that this season,” Roberson reflected regarding the Reds’ resilience. “We graduated a lot of kids, and these kids have stepped up and accepted every, single challenge we’ve given them this season.
“We’re healthy, physically, and mentally and spiritually this team is at a place I haven’t seen a high school football team in a long time,” Roberson related. “I’m excited. But you celebrate (one) night, then get ready to play Sharpsville.
“Going foward, we’ve just got to pull it through every week.”
MERCER 0 7 0 7 14
MIDDLESEX 0 7 3 7 17
WM — Tyillian, 15 run (Tyillian kick)
M — Peters, 54 pass from Clarke (Hoffman kick)
WM — Tyillian, 24 field goal
WM — Staunch, 3 run (Tyillian kick)
M — Peters, 65 pass from Clarke (Hoffman kick)
12 First downs 12
41 Rushing yards 161
270 Passing yards 111
33-15-1 Att-comp-int 20-9-1
311 Total yards 272
9-73 Fumbles-lost 3-0
0-0 Penalties-yards lost 9-75
Rushing: MERCER — Clarke 8-32, O’Brien 7-13, Leonard 4-(-4); WEST MIDDLESEX — Lucich 14-86, Tyillian 8-41, Staunch 9-34.
Passing: MERCER — Clarke 33-15-1, 270; WEST MIDDLESEX — Staunch 20-9-1, 111.
Receiving: MERCER — Edwards 6-76, Peters 3-135 Leonard 3-29, Haines 1-13, Davis 1-10, O’Brien 1-7; WEST MIDDLESEX — Tyillian 4-68, Fair 4-40, Lucich 1-3.
Simply stated, Middlesex made one more play, while Mercer made a myriad of miscues.
Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final
SLIPPERY ROCK — Brett Brumbaugh brought Bill Brest back to reality.
Brest seemed, Saturday afternoon, momentarily lost in thought when a post-game question was posed. Perhaps it was because it had been 3 months since he had experienced the disappointment of defeat.
Brumbaugh-led South Fayette’s football team short-circuited a splendid season a step shy of the statewide stage for Brest and Hickory High with a 23-20 win over the Hornets in the PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
SPORTVIEW: Browns, Steelers will both lose
THE CLEVELAND Browns quarterback position has been a revolving door this season, but at least one of the more successful signal-callers is back. Jason Campbell is recovered from a concussion and will start.
Does it really matter?
Roundup: Opening-weekend tipoff tourneys conclude
Kittanning Tipoff Championship
ä Hickory 60, Kittanning 32 — Coach Jeannette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets had an impressive weekend in winning the opening tourney of the season.
“It’s nice to get out of the game with a win,” said Whitehead. “The kids were anxious to get going.”
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
Hornets advance to semis with win over Central
DuBOIS, PA. — Some people could say the “third time is a charm.” For the Hickory High Hornets it was much more than that. In fact, it was glorious.
After losing in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs the last two years, the Hornets finally nailed down a victory with a 37-27 triumph over the Central Dragons from Martinsburg.
Lakeview falls to Clarion Area in PIAA quarterfinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — In the scholastic athletic arena, “mercy rule” — while not politically correct in hyper-sensitive 2013 society — is a relatively accepted term.
Clarion High’s football had mercy-ruled all 13 prior opponents this season. And the Bobcats seemed bent on continuing their commanding conquests during Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal-round meeting with Lakeview.
Hickory focused on winning PIAA opener
The calendar reminds us that Thanksgiving arrives a little later than usual this year. But as holiday traditions go, this one has been pretty productive for Hickory High head football coach Bill Brest.
“My wife always has me put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... and the next day, we’ve won. So I’ll be more than happy to help my wife put up the tree this Friday,” Brest related.
During the past 2 years Hickory has won District 10 titles on Thanksgiving weekend. But this year the Hornets harvested their 3rd consecutive crown last week, jettisoning Girard (21-10). Now Hickory (11-1) has a 1 p.m. date in DuBois Saturday against surprising Central-Martinsburg (11-2) in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Smart move by PIAA to schedule games early this weekend
Congratulations to the PIAA for making a good move that helps teams and fans of high school sports.
Wow, I haven’t been able to say that often enough!
But many of the high school football games this coming weekend will be played in the afternoon which is a real plus for traveling on possibly snow-blown highways at this time of the year.
Hornets 3-peat as D-10 champs with win vs. Girard
EDINBORO — When legendary coach Vince Lombardi said “the only good thing that comes from losing is the desire never to lose again,” he could very well have been referencing the future for Coach Bill Brest and his Hickory Hornets.
Since Hickory lost to Sharon, 14-6, in the 2010 District 10 finals in Brest’s first year at the helm of the team, the D-10 Class AA title game has belonged to Hickory. And Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium, it was no different as the Hornets topped Girard, 21-10 for a third straight crown.
Sailors beat Devils to capture 1st District 10 title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
Hornets seek 3-peat Saturday vs. Girard
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory High’s head football coach has broad shoulders and that’s necessary, because he’s taking on all distractions as his Hornets prepare for Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game.
Hickory (10-1) will attempt to hoist the D-10 trophy for a 3rd consecutive season when the Hornets journey to Girard’s backyard — Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium — to meet the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.
Hickory rolls past Northwestern in D-10 semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
Greenville falls to Girard in D-10 semifinals
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
But no one informed the Girard High football team of the plans.
“ … This is pretty cool … I’m pretty fired up about it,” admitted 4th-year Yellow Jackets’ head coach Jim Funk after Girard jolted Greenville, 16-14.
SPORTVIEW: Season fate could be decided today for Browns, Steelers
IT MAKES NO sense to say that one game determines the rest of the season. That’s why I’ll simply say: Today’s one game determines the rest of the season.
Since when did my predictions make sense anyhow?
The Cleveland Browns’ visit to Cincinnati today will go a long way to deciding if the Browns have a shot at making the playoffs — and even winning the AFC North title — or if they should start planning for the NFL draft.
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- Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final