WEXFORD, Pa. — Last Saturday in the WPIAL final, Central Catholic kicker John Opalko won the game on a 40-yard field goal with just under three minutes remaining.
This week, in the PIAA Class-6A quarterfinal against State College, it was no different.
Opalko connected on a 37-yard attempt with just 1:13 remaining in the game, lifting the Vikings to a 24-21 victory to advance to the semifinals next weekend.
Central Catholic quarterback Dom Pieto hit Gannon Carothers with just two minutes left in the game for 37 yards to set up Opaklo’s game-winner.
The Vikings had to come from behind to knock off State College. The Little Lions represented District 6 in the quarterfinal matchup.
The Little Lions punched the Vikings in the mouth first, when Lokey Howell returned the opening kick-off 94 yards for a touchdown.
Central Catholic gave the ball right back to State College after a 3-and-out, and State College took the ball 45 yards to go up 14 points. Running back, Dresyn Green ran it in from 6 yards out.
Central Catholic had been a run dominant team all season long, but trailing by two touchdowns, they had to experiment with their passing game early on. Pieto threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Carothers to cut the Little Lions lead back to just one score.
Senior defensive lineman Ameer Allen chased down State College quarterback Brady Dorner and hit him from behind and forced a fumble with 6:22 left in the first half. The Vikings took over on offense at the Little Lions’ 42-yard line.
Pieto to Carothers linked up once again and made the Little Lions pay for their cough up. The touchdown catch was for 26-yards the second time around, and the ball game was all knotted up at the break.
Then Central Catholic had some trickery up their sleeve with under a minute left in the third quarter that gave the Vikings their first lead of the game. Sophomore JD Younger took a fake punt down the right side of the field for a 44-yard touchdown.
But State College finally got back on the board to open up the fourth quarter on a Brady Dorner pass to Lokey Howell for a 21-yard touchdown to tie the score at 21-21.
Despite the passing scores for the Vikings, junior running back Eddie Tillman eclipsed 100-yards rushing before halftime. Tillman finished the game with 168 yards on the ground. Pieto threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
Central Catholic will go on to play the St. Joesph’s Prep next weekend in the PIAA state semifinals.