PITTSBURG — A valiant comeback effort by the Girard High School football team came up short on Friday against St. Mary’s-Colgan, as the Trojans continued to fight until the last second in the 28-12 loss.
The Panthers already had the game well in hand when the Trojans recovered an onside kick following a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but still battled hard to keep the Trojans off the board in the final minutes to close out the win.
“I thought we did some really good things,” SMC head coach Shawn Seematter said. “We had some great offensive drives and some great defensive stands, but we just lost our head at times. Like we’ve been preaching all year, there were some mistakes here and there that cost us scoring opportunities, which could have allowed us to run away with it.”
A quick start by the Panthers saw them force the Trojans into a three-and-out in the opening drive of the contest and going 75 yards en route to taking a 7-0 lead.
It took Colgan’s offense two minutes to drive down the field and score the game’s first touchdown on a 34-yard run by Jeremiah Buche.
The Trojans responded with a touchdown of their own with under three minutes remaining in the first quarter, but a missed extra-point attempt which kept the Panthers in the lead at 7-6.
Kyler Siebert was the catalyst for the Trojans on the scoring drive, as he broke loose for a 27-yard run on the first play and later punched it into the end zone from one yard out.
Jake Dellasega came up with an interception on the first play of the second quarter, which set up another scoring drive for Colgan to increase the lead to 14-6.
The Panthers took over deep in Trojan territory following the turnover and scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Cade Simmons to Buche.
Colgan began to pull away later in the second quarter, as the Panthers went up 21-6 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Simmons to Cal Marquardt.
SMC started the scoring drive on the Trojans’ 36-yard line after Kash Marietta recovered a fumble.
The Panthers took their largest lead of the game in the early going of the second half at 28-6, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run by Max Wilson.
Wilson’s run capped off a five-play, 64-yard drive, which was highlighted by Domenic Bevilacqua’s 30-yard carry.
Girard fought back with a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter to narrow the deficit to 28-12.
The Trojans began the drive on their own 13-yard line and took it down the field in six plays — which included a 40-yard pass from Ty Norris to Kreed Curran — before Norris crossed the goal line from three-yards out.
Despite the game being out of reach, the Trojans continued to battle and recovered an onside kick after the touchdown to take over at midfield with three minutes remaining in regulation.
SMC took over on downs after a five-play drive, but a fumble recovered by Norris gave the ball back to the Trojans on their own 34-yard line with under a minute to work with.
The Trojans began driving the ball down the field, but an interception by Marquardt gave possession back to the Panthers, who took a knee to drain the final seconds.
“We were in some tough situations, but our kids battled for all four quarters,” GHS head coach Neal Philpot said. “I think that was the first time our kids battled for all four quarters, so that’s a positive takeaway. I think our kids are going to see the difference in the scoreboard and they’re going to feel the difference as well. They’re tired, sore and hurting, which is a good thing because that’s what it takes. I think our guys are starting to come around a little bit.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.