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St. Joseph’s bid for a Fourpeat Falls Short (Gallery) @SJPrep_Football @SJPrep_Sports

Written by: on Sunday, December 12th, 2021

 

The Prep’s run comes to an end losing 35-17 to Mt. Lebanon

The Saint Joseph’s Prep Hawks made the trek up the Turnpike to the sweetest place on earth, Hershey Pa, in search of their 4th straight PIAA class 6A Championship in a row, and their 7th overall state title. After the game Hawk’s coach Tim Roken talked about the game, “Tough loss, my hat goes off to Coach Palko and his staff.”  “Our kids gave everything they had tonight, I feel for our seniors they gave everything they had tonight.” Although dejected about tonight’s loss Roken believes his hawks will be back, “We have been here as a staff, guys will learn by it.”

The game started out looking like the previous three title games, the Prep took the opening kickoff and drove 74 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a Samaj Jones to Josiah Trotter connection from four yards out, giving the Hawks a quick 7-0 lead. On an unseasonably warm December night, with severe storms in the forecast, no one could have predicted the lightening that would strike in the next four plays. The Blue Devils of Mount Lebanon would start their first possession on their own 14 yard line and in the blink of an eye Blue Devil QB Joey Daniels would hit WR Michael Beiersdorf on a quick slant, Beiersdorf broke a Hawk tackle and raced 86 yards tying the game up at 7. After the ensuing kickoff, the Prep would fumble on their first play, giving Mt. Lebo the ball on the Hawk 20. Two plays later, out of the wildcat formation, Mt. Lebo’s Eli Heidenreich would take the direct snap, cutting through the Prep defense going 13 yards for the score. In an instant Mt. Lebo led 14-7, and more importantly the Blue Devils believed they could defeat they seemingly indestructible Hawks.

After a blistering start by the offenses, the defenses took over for the next three series forcing fast three and out possessions. It looked like the Hawk’s defense would once again hold the Blue Devils, then QB Joey Daniels found an uncovered receiver down the middle for a 43 yard completion and the Blue Devils were in business at the Hawk’s 12 yard line. From there Daniel hit Mt. Lebo’s outstanding back Alex Tecza for a 6 yard score making it 21-7. With the Blue Devil’s confidence raising the Hawk’s sophomore sensation QB Samaj Jones put his team on his back. Jones would end up with just 40 yards on 24 carries for the night, while throwing for 150 yards on 9-19 passing, but on this series he completed passes and added some nifty running to get the Hawks to a first and goal at the 5. Jones then called his own number busting into the end zone making it 21-14 going into halftime.

At the start of the second half the Hershey winds were howling up to 50 mph, making it difficult for either team to move the ball. After freshman standout safety Anthony Sacca recovered a fumble at the Blue Devil 39 yard line, Jones attempted a pass the was tipped by a Blue Devil defender, went off a Hawk receiver and then on an acrobatic play Mt. Lebo’s Matt Wertz made a diving catch for an interception, ending the Hawk’s drive. After a short Mt. Lebo punt, the Hawks drove to the 19, but the drive stalled there. Hawk’s kicker Antonio Chadha banged through a 26 yard field goal closing the gap to 21-17. This is as close as the Hawks would get.

As the 4th quarter began the winds and rain subsided, but it still remained difficult for either team to move the ball. After exchanging turnovers, Mt. Lebo would go down the field, using Tecza in the wildcat formation would drive the field, finally punching it in from the 2, making it 28-17. With the clock ticking down in the 4th quarter, the Hawks had to abandon the run allowing the Mt. Lebo D line to rush up field giving Jones no time to throw. Tecza would add his 3rd TD of the night with 3:19 to go in the game, sealing the Hawks defeat and ending their quest for a fourpeat.

The Prep’s future looks bright with many of their players returning next year including Jones and Trotter as well as running back Kahseim Phillips and many more Hawk starters. After the game talked about the future, “This is nothing that we cannot fix, I’ll be here for two more years.”

 

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Box Score and Stats:

2021 PIAA Championships – Mount Lebanon vs St. Joseph’s Prep

 

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