Wade scores 6 TDs, including OT winner, to lead Clairton past Neshannock
There was no mercy rule.
There was no putting up points at an embarrassing rate.
Neshannock was having none of that during Friday’s WPIAL Class A semifinal against Clairton.
And Clairton really didn’t care … yes, the team that’s been whipping up on all of Single-A this year with the sights on setting an all-time scoring record did not care that they needed overtime to beat Neshannock Friday night at Canon-McMillan.
That’s because the Bears are heading to Heinz Field for the seventh time in the past nine years, advancing to the Class A championship for the first time since 2012 with a 48-42 win over Neshannock. Clairton will take on Avonworth (11-1), a 28-21 upset winner over defending champion Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-1) at 11 a.m. Friday.
For Neshannock (11-1), it was the third straight year the Lancers lost in the semifinals — twice to Clairton.
This one was much different than the 37-7 drubbing two years ago.
“We have never been through adversity so it took a lot for us to bounce back,” sophomore running back Lamont Wade said. “That was one of the best experiences of my life. I give all kind of respect and credit to Neshannock to play the best game I ever played in.”
Wade rushed for 270 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 55, 65, 17, 28, 15 and, in overtime, 10 yards to give Clairton the dramatic win.
Only moments before Wade’s game-winning touchdown in overtime, he intercepted Frank Antuono in the end zone on fourth down.
It was the fewest points Clairton has scored this year and the most they’ve given up.
“In the playoffs, it’s win and advance,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “It doesn’t matter if it is 1 point, 2 points, we came out on top.”
Coming into the game, Clairton’s closest game was a 58-14 win over Jeannette.
“Without a doubt, fighting for it makes it sweeter,” Wayne Wade said. “We knew coming in that this was a great team and a well-coached team. They fought for it and that’s what the playoffs are all about.”
Neshannock got 108 yards and two touchdowns from Antuono and 104 yards and two touchdowns from Eli Owens by running virtually the same play — the read option.
In overtime, Clairton switched up its defense, and the Lancers went away from what was working all game.
Rocco Fazio was dropped for a 3-yard loss on the first play of overtime. After a short gain by Antuono, an incompletion and a fourth-down pick by Lamont Wade set the Bears in position to win the game.
“I felt that if we stopped them that we were going to win,” Lamont Wade said. “I just felt that way.”
Lamont Wade did just that on the first play of overtime as he scooted around left end for the touchdown.
“I saw the end zone and I had to get there,” Lamont Wade said.
For Wayne Wade, a switch on defense is what changed everything.
“We jumped into our 61 defense so we covered everybody up on the line so they couldn’t pull anyone,” Wayne Wade said. “We changed our defense a little bit in overtime. That’s the reason why we put pressure on them.”
Clairton, which turned the ball over five times, was up two touchdowns with 9:12 left and it appeared that the Bears were going to run away with it.
But Neshannock answered with an eight-play drive that was capped by Antuono’s 5-yard pass to Seth Dueitt to make it 42-35. The Lancers recovered the onsides kick and tied the score with 1:10 left when Antuono bulled in from 1-yard out to make it 42-42 and send the game into overtime.
“It took a lot for us to bounce back, but it feels great,” Lamont Wade said. “I believe that my team can overcome anything now.”