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Game of the Week

Laurel season ends with setback

Laurel (0) vs. Clairton (33)
Written: Nov 21, 2009
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By RON PONIEWASZ JR.

rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com

MONACA — The pain was visible on the faces of the Laurel High football players.

Sadness. Dejection. Misery.

Clairton’s defense dominated the Spartans en route to a 33-0 victory last night in the WPIAL Class A semifinals at Center High School.

“It’s hard to lose, especially at this point in the season,” Laurel coach Jerry Holzhauser said.

The third-seeded Bears (11-1) will meet top-seeded Rochester (12-0) on Friday at Heinz Field in the WPIAL Class A championship. The time will be determined by the WPIAL. Gene Matsook, a 1981 Shenango graduate, is the Rams’ head coach.

Rochester advanced to the title tilt with a 14-7 decision over North Catholic.

Laurel (10-2), seeded second, is ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL in Class A by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 4 in the PIAA, while the Bears are ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL and No. 5 in the state.

The Bears’ win avenged Laurel’s 15-8 decision in the season opener.

Clairton coach Tom Nola said his team wasn’t necessarily out for revenge for Laurel’s 15-8 season-opening victory.

“We had to win to go to Heinz,” he said. “Laurel just happened to be in the way to get to Heinz.”

While the semifinal matchup was the most recent, Laurel lineman Bobby Hites said the opener will stick with the team for a long time.

“That was a huge win; I’ll remember it forever,” he said. “That game got us started off on the right foot.”

Clairton running back Deontae Howard rolled up 146 yards rushing on 19 carries with two touchdowns. Howard posted 85 of his yards along with the scores in the second half.

“He’s a great back,” Holzhauser said. “He’s strong, powerful and he has good speed.”

The teams battled to a scoreless duel through the first period. The Bears got the game’s first break when Eddie Ball snared a deflected Tyler Forbes pass for an interception. The pick set Clairton up at Laurel’s 24.

Seven plays later, Bears quarterback Joshua Page connected with Desimon Green from 9 yards out and a 6-0 lead with 10:38 left in the half. The two-point conversion aerial misfired.

The Spartans’ Dan Poremski was stripped on their next play from scrimmage. Green scooped up the loose ball and dashed 31 yards for a 12-0 buffer with 10:17 to go in the half. University of Pittsburgh recruit Kevin Weatherspoon hauled in Green’s two-point conversion to up the count to 14-0.

Laurel struggled on its next drive, going three-and-out, picking up just four yards. The Spartans had a great opportunity when the Bears muffed Jake Dando’s punt. However, Laurel was unable to pounce on the loose ball at the Clairton 26, and the Bears gained possession.

“You can always say, ‘What if?’” Forbes said. “There were so many things that could have turned the game around. We didn’t take charge when we had a chance to, but I don’t want to make excuses.”

The Spartans opened the second half with a purpose. They marched 52 yards in six plays before stalling when Weatherspoon broke up a pass intended for Dando. Dylan Jones churned out runs of 22 and 19 yards on the first two plays of the half.

“We made a few adjustments here and there at halftime,” Hites said. “No matter what happens, we take it upon ourselves to get the job done.

“We definitely came out in the second half with a burden on our shoulders. We knew what we had to do.”

Said Forbes, “Dylan was running hard the first drive of the second half. That first drive was awesome. We were moving the ball and moving guys around. After that first drive they started shutting us down.”

Clairton took over on its own 27 and drove 73 yards in 10 plays, culminating with a 1-yard scoring run by Howard with 2:18 to play in the third. The drive chewed up 6:25.

“I don’t think our kids are ever deflated,” Holzhauser said of the effects of the Clairton drive. “If you are, you’re not a good football player.”

The Bears put the game away on their next possession when Howard shook a tackle in the backfield and raced 67 yards for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead with 10:06 remaining.

“He’s been running like that all year and then all of a sudden he just breaks a big one,” Nola said. “He doesn’t get caught very often.”

Clairton’s defense limited Laurel to eight first downs and 198 yards of total offense.

“We weren’t able to do much,” Forbes said. “We gave our all; they were shutting down everything. We gave it our best.”

Weatherspoon locked down Dando and limited him to four receptions for 41 yards.

“That was our focus: to limit Dando,” Nola said. “Weatherspoon is a good receiver and a top-notch defensive back, too.”

Laurel will lose 12 players to graduation.

“We have a great group of seniors,” Holzhauser said. “They were just outstanding football players.

“As a coach, you can look back on how well a kid tackled or how well he ran. More important is the quality of kids they were. They were a joy to be around, and they never gave us any trouble. It was just a lot of fun and a lot of laughter.”

CLAIRTON LAUREL

13 First downs 8

221 Yards Rushing 172

14 Yards Lost 15

207 Net Rushing 157

16 Passes Attempted 12

5 Passes Completed 4

0 Passes Intercepted 2

97 Yards Passing 41

304 Total Yards 198

2-0 Fumbles-Lost 1-1

4-40.5 Punts-Average 5-31.8

6-70 Penalties-Yards 2-10

CLAIRTON 0 14 6 13 —33

LAUREL 0 0 0 0 — 0

Scoring plays

CLAIRTON — Joshua Page, 9-yard pass from Desimon Green (pass failed).

CLAIRTON — Green, 31-yard fumble return (Kevin Weatherspoon pass from Green).

CLAIRTON — Deontae Howard, 1-yard run (run failed).

CLAIRTON — Howard, 67-yard run (Trenton Coles kick).

CLAIRTON — Coles, 15-yard run (run failed).

GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Laurel 0 0 0 0 0 0
Clairton 0 14 6 13 0 33
GAME OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
One step short 12/3/16 Neshannock season comes to end 11/27/16 The (im)perfect season 11/19/16 WPIAL championship game 11/18/16 New Castle advances to WPIAL Class 4A title game 11/11/16 Neshannock routs Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Neshannock hosts Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Thriller 10/28/16 Union at Shenango 10/28/16 'Canes stumble; playoff berth on line in finale 10/21/16 New Castle hosts Ringgold on Senior Night 10/21/16 Wilmington falls in battle of unbeatens 10/15/16 Wilmington at Hickory 10/13/16 On the defensive 10/8/16 Neshannock hosts Riverside 10/7/16 New Castle struggles in home loss to Mars 9/30/16 New Castle hosts Mars 9/30/16 'Canes hope to even score against Mars 9/30/16 Stayin' alive 9/23/16 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/23/16 Ground assault 9/17/16 Wilmington hosts Sharpsville 9/16/16 Too many mistakes for Laurel 9/10/16 Riverside travels to Laurel 9/9/16 Neshannock routs North Catholic 9/3/16 Canes quipped 8/31/16 A good mix 8/27/16 Black Friday 11/14/15 Wilmington vs. Cambridge Springs 11/13/15 Defense steps up for Lancers 11/7/15 Neshannock vs. Bentworth 11/5/15 No doubt about it 10/31/15 Neshannock vs. Union 10/30/15 Crowning effort 10/24/15 Shenango vs. Riverside 10/23/15 Playoff hopes dashed 10/17/15 Laurel vs. Beaver 10/16/15 A costly brawl 10/10/15 New Castle vs. Central Valley 10/9/15 Inching closer 10/3/15 Union vs. Shenango 10/2/15 'They had us on our heels' 9/26/15 South Side Beaver at Union 9/25/15 Shootout 9/19/15 Neshannock at Riverside 9/18/15 Pivotal 9/13/15 Neshannock, Shenango clash Saturday 9/11/15 Under the weather 9/5/15 New Brighton at Laurel 9/4/15 Heartbreaker 11/15/14 Neshannock vs. Clairton 11/14/14 Weathering the storm 11/8/14 Neshannock vs. Jeannette 11/7/14 Fast and furious 11/1/14 Springdale at Shenango 10/31/14 Opportunity lost 10/25/14 Sharpsville at Wilmington 10/24/14 One for the books 10/18/14 Ellwood City at Laurel 10/17/14 Ground war 10/11/14 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/10/14 Drenched with happiness 10/4/14 South Side Beaver at Shenango 10/3/14 The perfect storm 9/27/14 Moon at New Castle 9/26/14 Coming up short 9/20/14 West Middlesex at Wilmington 9/19/14 Back in the saddle 9/13/14 Neshannock at Riverside 9/12/14 Tough act to follow 9/6/14 New Brighton at Ellwood City 9/5/14 'We will get better' 8/30/14 West Allegheny vs. New Castle 8/29/14 End of the road 11/16/13 Neshannnock vs. North Catholic 11/15/13 'Sharks in a frenzy' 11/9/13 Lancers advance to WPIAL semifinals 11/9/13 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/13 The best defense 11/2/13 Neshannock vs. Brentwood 11/1/13 'We battled to the end' 10/26/13 New Brighton at Mohawk 10/25/13 Costly blunders 10/19/13 Sto-Rox at Laurel 10/18/13 West Allegheny rallies in fourth to defeat 'Canes 10/12/13 West Allegheny at New Castle 10/11/13 Mohawk wins thriller behind McConahy, Barber 10/5/13 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/4/13 Spartans ride big second half to win over Union 9/28/13 Laurel at Union 9/27/13 Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid 9/21/13 Shenango at Neshannock 9/20/13 So close ... 9/13/13 Neshannock at Sto-Rox 9/12/13 Run to glory 9/7/13 Laurel at Neshannock 9/6/13 Dando, Spartans roll over South Side Beaver 9/5/13 South Side Beaver vs. Laurel 8/30/13 Turnovers spell doom for Wilmington in D-10 title game 11/26/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 11/24/12 Caught in a 'Bear' trap 11/17/12 Neshannock vs. Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals 11/15/12 Neshannock advances 11/10/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/12 Neshannock advances 11/3/12 Neshannock vs. Jefferson-Morgan 11/2/12 Down and out 10/27/12 New Castle at Hopewell 10/26/12 Pugh paces Wilmington to win over Sharon 10/22/12 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/19/12 Mohawk falls to Beaver 10/13/12 Beaver vs. Mohawk 10/12/12 ‘We tip our hats to them’ 10/8/12 Neshannock at Rochester 10/5/12 Big-play display for Union 9/29/12 Union vs. Laurel 9/28/12 Lancers rout Shenango for fourth win 9/24/12 Blend of old, new sparks Union win 9/22/12 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/21/12 ’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory 9/15/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/14/12 Milestone victory 9/10/12 New Castle at Riverside 9/7/12 699 and counting 9/1/12 New Castle vs. Central Valley 8/31/12 Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington 11/21/11 Wilmington vs. General McLane 11/17/11 End of the dream 11/12/11 Ellwood vs. Greensburg Central 11/11/11 Ellwood advances 11/5/11 Ellwood City vs. Freeport 11/4/11 Mixed reviews 10/29/11 New Castle vs. Blackhawk 10/28/11 Wilmington rolls to Region 3 title 10/22/11 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/21/11 It's Polka time 10/15/11 Ellwood City vs. Laurel 10/14/11 Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City 10/8/11 Aliquippa vs. Ellwood City 10/7/11 Wilmington holds on for thrilling win over Hickory 10/1/11 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/30/11 Union pulls away for win over South Side Beaver 9/24/11 South Side Beaver at Union 9/23/11 Big plays spell doom for New Castle 9/17/11 Central Valley vs. New Castle 9/16/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Neshannock vs. Serra Catholic 9/9/11 New Castle suffers disappointing loss in opener 9/3/11 New Castle vs. Butler 9/2/11 Sharon ends Wilmington’s dominance 11/22/10 ‘Underdog’ Greyhounds move on to a rematch with Sharon 11/15/10 Wilmington vs. North East 11/12/10 Tough lesson 11/6/10 WPIAL Playoffs: Ellwood vs. South Fayette 11/5/10 Wolverines earn playoff berth 10/30/10 Riverside at Ellwood City 10/29/10 'Hounds lose heartbreaker 10/23/10 Wilmington at Sharon 10/22/10 Wolverines outlast Spartans 10/16/10 Laurel at Ellwood City 10/15/10 'Canes fall to Parkway foe Hopewell 10/9/10 New Castle to battle Hopewell 10/8/10 Lancers fall to Western Beaver 10/2/10 Western Beaver at Neshannock 10/1/10 Wolverines fall to Beaver 9/25/10 Beaver at Ellwood City 9/24/10 Shenango runs past South Side 9/20/10 Greyhounds lay hammer down on Greenville 9/11/10 Wilmington vs. Greenville 9/10/10 New Castle comes through 9/4/10 New Castle vs. Butler 9/4/10 Memorable run ends for Wilmington football team 12/14/09 Wilmington vs. Greensburg Catholic 12/11/09 Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington vs. Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington blanks Sharon 11/28/09 Wilmington vs. Sharon 11/27/09 Laurel season ends with setback 11/21/09 Laurel vs. Clairton in WPIAL semifinals 11/20/09 West Allegheny ends New Castle’s season 11/14/09 New Castle vs. West Allegheny 11/13/09 New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem 11/7/09 New Castle at Greensburg Salem 11/6/09 Wilmington routs Slippery Rock 10/30/09 Slippery Rock at Wilmington 10/30/09 Shenango blanks Union 10/24/09 Shenango at Union 10/23/09 Spartans overwhelm Monaca 10/17/09 Monaca at Laurel 10/16/09 Mohawk outlasts Ellwood City 10/10/09 Mohawk at Ellwood City 10/9/09 Rochester turns back Laurel in battle of unbeatens 10/3/09 Laurel at Rochester 10/2/09 Laurel opportunistic against Neshannock 9/26/09 Neshannock at Laurel 9/25/09 New Castle ends streak against Blackhawk 9/19/09 New Castle hosts Blackhawk 9/18/09 New Castle passes test against Indiana 9/12/09 Indiana at New Castle 9/11/09 Ellwood comes up short against Freedom 9/5/09 Freedom at Ellwood 9/4/09 Wilmington wins PIAA title! 12/15/08 'Hounds headed for Hershey 12/6/08 Wilmington vs. Aliquippa 12/5/08 Wilmington holds off Martinsburg Central 11/29/08 Wilmington edges Slippery Rock for District 10 title 11/24/08 "Down and Out" 11/19/08 New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals 11/8/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/7/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/6/08 New Castle routs Franklin Regional 11/1/08 Franklin Regional at New Castle 11/1/08 Laurel wins, but not enough 10/25/08 Shenango at Laurel 10/25/08 New Castle routs Ambridge 10/18/08 Ambridge at New Castle 10/18/08 Rochester blanks Neshannock 10/11/08 Wilmington handles Sharon 10/4/08 South Side Beaver blanks Neshannock 9/27/08 Neshannock vs. South Side Beaver 9/27/08 Neshannock holds off Laurel 9/20/08 Rochester blanks Union 9/13/08 Union-Rochester 9/12/08 Mohawk routs New Brighton 9/6/08 Butler outlasts New Castle 8/30/08
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