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Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, November 13th, 2021
The old adage, speed kills held true as Cornell bested Leechburg 46-18 in a District 7 Class A quarter final contest held at North Allegheny’s Wright Field at Newman Stadium. It wasn’t that Leechburg didn’t give it their all or couldn’t move the ball. They did. They gained 347 total yards for the game. It was just they couldn’t stop Cornell’s speed from coming up with big plays offensively.
The Cornell Raiders, led by Raequan Troutman, chalked up 383 yards rushing. Young Mr. Troutman accounted for 255 of those yards on only 15 carries. He scored twice on runs of 28 and 42 yards. Coach Edward Dawson said, “Raequan has grown so much as a player. We have a lot of explosive kids and Raequan is one of them. They are all unselfish. Tonight was his night.”
Cornell’s defense also played well. They came up big forcing four turnovers and making plays when they had to against a very potent Leechburg Blue Devil offense. “We like to play defense. That’s all we talk about all week long. We are blessed to have some great kids who want to play and they love challenges,” stated Dawson.
The Cornell Raider defense getting instructions during a timeout.
It took Cornell all of two minutes and four plays to score the game’s first points. Troutman started the game with a dazzling 47-yard run and Timmy Henderson finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run to give the Raiders the 6-0 lead, a lead they would never relinquish. “We had to execute and come out with a good start,” said Troutman.
The Blue Devils answered by driving 60 yards to the Cornell 5 before the Raider defense stiffened and forced Jake Schuffert to boot a 21-yard field goal. Moments later, an interception provided Leechburg with excellent field position at the Cornell 35. Thomas Burke hit Tyler Foley for 27 yards to give Leechburg a first down at the two. A one-yard run and a penalty put the ball at the inch line. Then a gigantic momentum swing happened when Leechburg fumbled the ball into the end zone and Sincere Kimbrough recovered the loose ball for Cornell to thwart the Blue Devil attempt to take the lead.
Leechburg (in white) with the ball at the Cornell (yellow uniforms) two.
The Raiders proceeded to embark on an 80-yard 10-play drive that ended when Troutman used his speed and agility to outrun defenders 28 yards to score and put Cornell up 12-3. A few minutes later Henderson raced 40 yards to up the Raider lead to 18-3. It remained that way into the intermission.
Henderson returned Leechburg’s punt on the opening drive of the third quarter to the Blue Devil 16. Five plays later E.J. Dawson plunged in from the one for the score and increased the Cornell advantage to 25-3 after M.J. Smith’s PAT.
Sincere Kimbrough #5 about to hand the ball to Timmy Henderson #8.
Leechburg finally found the end zone when Burke hit Logan Kline in a seam over the middle for a 53-yard touchdown. (Kline grabbed 4 passes for 100 yards to lead the Blue Devils in the receiving department for the night.) That gave the Blue Devils some hope and new life as they trailed 25-10 and as they tried to claw their way back into the game. But it was not to be.
Henderson added to the highlight reel when he returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for the TD. In the fourth quarter, linebacker Jerome Brown had a 9-yard pick six. Those points upped Cornell’s lead to 38-10 and essentially put the game out of reach for a Leechburg comeback. “Jerome has been working hard for us. He’s a leader and doing well and I’m proud of him,” stated Coach Dawson.
Burke, who threw for 257 yards by completing 17 of 30 passes, had his second touchdown toss when Braylan Lovelace caught a short pass and maneuvered past defenders 28 yards.
The final points of the evening came when Troutman took the hand off from Kimbrough, scooted around the end, found a seam, and put the after burners on to pull away from the Leechburg defense and score a 42-yard touchdown. “I ran hard tonight, and that O-line, I just love ‘em to death,” stated Troutman.
The offensive line to the right as the offense walks off the field late in the game.
Cornell, now 9-2 on the year, moves on to play Bishop Canevin (10-1) in the semi-finals next week at a site to be determined. Leechburg, who had a large contingent of fans, finishes the season with an 8-3 record.
It was nice to see both bands perform at halftime (that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore, which is sad) and both did an amazing job. It has been a long time since this writer has seen single A schools with bands that good.
The Leechburg Blue Devil Marching Band.
The Cornell Raider Marching Band.
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