Jeannette’s offense might be unstoppable
Every time Terrelle Pryor and the Jeannette football team takes the field, they earn the respect of another coach.
Add Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli to that growing list after Pryor and the Jayhawks rolled to a 41-21 victory Saturday in the PIAA Class AA semifinal at Slippery Rock University’s N. Kerr Thompson Stadium.
The Jayhawks (15-0) will battle District 2 Dunmore (14-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium.
Jeannette, led by Pryor, turned in another spectacular performance.
Pryor completed 9-of-13 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 158 yards and a score, returned an interception 100 yards for a another score, knocked down a pass, recorded a sack and even had time to lead the Jeannette marching band after the game.
Pryor is the first player in the WPIAL, and possibly the state, to throw for more than 4,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000 yards in a career.
“He’s an unusual human being,” Verrelli said. “He is the team, no doubt about that. When you play against them and with their ability to score, you’re forced to do different things.
“I thought before the game he was virtually unstoppable, he was Saturday, and he’ll continue to be. They get into the shotgun with him anytime they want to. He’s something else, no question about it.”
Pryor had a lot of help. Jordan Hall scored three times, rushed for 72 yards and caught four passes for 66 yards. Mike Matt also added a score and had another taken away by a fumble.
Jeannette, which has scored a state record 811 points, put together five long touchdown drives against Wilmington. The Jayhawks had drives of 51, 80, 60, 85, 69, 75 and 55 yards. One drive ended in a fumble and another ended the first half.
Verrelli said he doesn’t think there is a way to stop Jeannette’s offense.
“The only way I see them being stopped is if Terrelle stays home,” Verrelli laughed. “There is no other way. They spread you out, and you have to cover the receivers. You can’t put enough players on the field to stop them.”
Jeannette coach Ray Reitz said opening up the game in the lonesome polecat, which Jeannette tried against Aliquippa, befuddled Wilmington a little bit. The lonesome polecat is an offense where Pryor lines up to the right with a center, wide receiver and running back, and the other players line up to he left. Pryor gained 29 yards on the first play and then shoveled a pass to Kenny Grant for another nice gain.
“I got that play from someone 30 years ago,” Reitz said. “It’s a nice weapon.”
Reitz said he’s tired of hearing people question his offensive line. He felt they played a great game and did a great job winning the battle.
“They played their hearts out,” Reitz said of center Chris Hall, guards Nick Campbell, Matt Gabris, Sammy Moore and Matt Barbish, and tackles Adam Lock and Jason Marquis. “This was a very physical game, and there was a lot of hitting. The last man standing would be the winner.”
Reitz said he was also proud of the defense, which limited running back Chris Burns, a Pitt recruit, to 90 yards on 23 carries.
“I don’t like giving up a yard, and Burns earned every yard he got,” Reitz said. “I have a newfound respect for him.”
Jeannette now has a week to get ready for the state championship game. Reitz and the players said they’ve been shooting for this game since it lost a year ago to Wilson, 29-28.
“We have a chance to win the state, but I’m sure Dunmore will have something to say about that” Reitz said. “Being ranked No. 1 all year put a lot of pressure on us; it’s just a relief to get back there. Everyone was waiting for us to fail.
“It’s a credit to our players because they stepped up and played very hard. I’m so proud of them just by the way they stuck together. There are a lot of things that can get you out of kilter and it’s a credit to the players that they stayed focused. This is great for our school and town.”
PIAA Class AA Championship
Who: Jeannette (15-0) vs. Dunmore (14-1)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: HersheyPark Stadium, Hershey