ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Thomas Jefferson defeated Cathedral Prep 28-13 in the PIAA Class-4A quarterfinals Friday night at Martorelli Stadium in North Hills.
The stats were split almost right down the middle in all categories, the difference in the game was, not surprisingly, the Thomas Jefferson defense holding strong.
Twice, Cathedral Prep drove it inside the red zone, but had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, which all but sealed the win for the WPIAL champions.
Thomas Jefferson scored on their opening drive, marching it 76 yards in 15 plays, and more importantly, taking 6:56 off the first-quarter clock.
The Jaguars ran three passing plays and 12 running plays on the opening drive as Dylan Mallozzi rushed it 11 times for 56 yards, capped by a one-yard score.
After a three-and-out by the Ramblers, Thomas Jefferson was in a position to put a scare into the three-time and defending PIAA champions. But a fumble by Mallozzi gave the Ramblers great field position, and the experienced team capitalized quickly.
Cathedral Prep scored in just over three minutes when quarterback Tamar Sample found senior Jaelen Carson for a nine-yard score.
Sample ran for 76 yards in the first half on 12 carries, showcasing an ability to escape pressure that gave the Jaguars fits all night.
The Ramblers took their first lead of the night late in the second quarter when freshman Cole Constable converted a 27-yard field.
But leaving 2:54 on the clock was more than enough time for Stump and the Jaguars as the senior marched down the field in 1:01 with a few big passes to Dan Daebner and tight end James Martinis.
The touchdown drive was capped when Stump found Daebner on a back-shoulder throw at the goal line that was executed perfectly, and the Cathedral Prep lead lasted two minutes.
Thomas Jefferson carried a 14-10 lead into the half behind Stumps 87 passing yards and Mallozzi’s 72 rushing yards.
There were only five possessions in the second half – three for Cathedral Prep and two for Thomas Jefferson – and it was the Jaguars who made theirs count.
Cathederal Prep took nearly six minutes off the clock and were down to the 16-yard line when a holding call of fourth down was declined, making it fourth-and-goal from the 16. Constable again was good, this time from 34 yards and the Rambles were within one.
Thomas Jefferson responded with another long, dominating drive that ended in a touchdown. The Jaguars drove it 60 yards in 13 plays, eating up 6:30 of the third and fourth-quarter clock ending in a one-yard touchdown run from Stump.
Stump rushed 11 times for 36 yards in the win.
Cathedral Prep picked up two fourth-down conversions on the next drive and again were inside the 30-yard line on a fourth down. But a pass in the corner of the end zone from Sample to Jaheim Howard was over thrown and the Ramblers turned it over on downs.
With six minutes remaining in the game, Thomas Jefferson was in a position to put it away, and they did with an exclamation point.
The Jaguars were faced with a fourth-and-one on their own 38-yard line with 3:57 remaining when Shane Stump surged forward for a key first down. Stump picked up five first downs on either third or fourth down and less than four.
A few plays later Mallozzi finally broke loose for a 34-yard run down the sideline, capping the scoring, and the win for Thomas Jefferson 28-13.
Mallozzi finished the night with 162 yards on 29 carries and the two touchdowns.
Thomas Jefferson held a slight advantage in the time of possession battle 26:38 – 21:22, out rushed the Ramblers 224 – 208 and won the passing battle 108 – 71.
Thomas Jefferson will play Lampeter Strasburg in the PIAA Class-4A semifinals next week.