If the Jeannette Jayhawks are going to be the new big dog in the WPIAL’s Class A, they will have to wait for 2015.
The 2014 Jayhawk campaign came to an end last Friday night over the course of 12 minutes of mistake-filled football that overshadowed an otherwise exciting, splash-play-filled 36 minutes that put Jeannette in position to win the quarterfinals game against Neshannock at Deer Lakes High School.
“We made some big mistakes and they took advantage,” said Jeannette head coach Roy Hall.
“Take nothing away from Neshannock, they were great, but I think we beat ourselves.”
Hall’s opinion is grounded in two statistics that point to self-destruction: 12 penalties for 117 yards and three turnovers — one on Jeannette’s second possession of the game with the Jayhawks up 7-0 thanks to a 73-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Julian Batts and driving for another score.
“I really think that was a big point in the game even though it came early,” said Hall. “If we go up 14-0, it might take them out of what they wanted to do and force them to take chances that might have led to mistakes.”
Neshannock (11-0) took full advantage of the Jeannette (9-2) miscue driving 89 yards for the game-tying touchdown, a seven-yard Eli Owens run.
Owens finished with a game-high 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
The game see-sawed back and forth after the first Owens touchdown run.
Jeannette senior Terell Canady (66) and sophomore Kareem Hall (1) scored on runs and Swade Redman opened the scoring in the third quarter by connecting on a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 25.
Owens and senior running back Zach Altieri traded touchdown runs, Altieri’s a blazing 73-yard sprint, and the teams entered the fourth quarter even at 32-32, but with Neshannock driving.
The Lancers wasted little time in the fourth asserting themselves as Rocco Fazio and quarterback Frank Antuono connected for the second time in the game, this one from 48 yards out, to give Neshannock a lead they would not relinquish.
Neshannock will face the Class A second-seeded Clairton Bears in this weekend’s semifinals game, the Lancers’ third straight.
For Hall, the end to the 2014 campaign is bittersweet.
“Nine and two isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened, and compared to last season it makes this season a success, but we would have liked to have gone further,” said Hall.
“It’s tough to say goodbye to the seniors but they had great careers at Jeannette and are always a part of Jayhawk Nation.”
Dave Moio is a freelance writer.