No. 8 Jeannette and unranked Yough slugged it out like two prize fighters Friday in a WPIAL Class AA Interstate Conference battle for first place at Cougar Mountain.
And after being staggered by Yough’s frantic fourth-quarter comeback, Jeannette landed the final blow and pulled out a thrilling 27-22 victory.
Quarterback Julian Batts tossed a 55-yard scoring strike to Zack Altieri with 2:15 left for the winning score, and defensive back Terell Canady sealed the victory with his second interception of the game with 1:52 remaining for Jeannette (3-0, 3-0).
“We were lucky,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “They outplayed us. That’s not your normal Yough team. They shut us out in the first half, and we scored on special teams. It was kind of an ugly win, but I’ll take it.”
Jeannette led, 21-7, after two long touchdown runs by Michael Edwards (36 yards) and Damone Morton (24 yards) in the third quarter.
“They were doing a good job taking away our outside runs, so we decided to run from the middle-out in the second half,” Hall said.
In the fourth quarter, Jeannette senior tackle Matt Howard was sidelined with an injury. Yough lost wide receiver Eric Borkovich in the first half with an injury.
The teams were tied, 7-7, at halftime. Canady returned a punt 26 yards for a touchdown for Jeannette; Yough scored on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Donahue to Clayton Waldron.
Donahue, who injured his left shoulder in the opener against Charleroi and missed last week’s game at Brownsville, was cleared to play Thursday.
“Tyler was a little rusty, but he’s better than a lot of quarterbacks in the conference,” Yough coach Mark Crovak said. “Once he got cleared, we had to use him. We just missed a couple hot reads, and then we hit a couple.”
Donahue started to find his groove in the fourth quarter during Yough’s comeback. He tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Joe Pleva with 5:49 left to cut the Jeannette lead to 21-14.
After Yough’s defense forced a punt, Donahue and fullback Tom Sever put Yough in scoring position. Sever raced 34 yards to the Jeannette 11, and two plays later Donahue and Waldron hooked up on a 10-yard strike with 2:34 left.
Donahue ran in the two-point conversion to give Yough its first lead, 22-21. Donahue completed 15 of 25 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
Canady returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards to the Jeannette 45. On first down, Batts rolled left, eluded the rush and launched a perfect strike to Altieri, who juked a Yough defender for the score. Batts went 6 of 11 for 110 yards.
“Maybe we scored too quickly,” Crovak said. “They fought hard. We have a bunch of upset kids in the locker room.
“One play. We were one play away.”