WEST VIEW, Pa. — Due to five turnovers and a second-half collapse, Bishop Canevin fell to Redbank Valley, 23-14, in the PIAA Class-A semifinal at North Hills on Friday night.
The Crusaders went into halftime with a 14-7 lead, but they fell apart in the second half, as they turned the ball over on each of their first three possessions in the third quarter. Midway through the quarter, Redbank Valley’s Chris Marshall got a 95-yard pick-six off quarterback Jason Cross to tie the game at 14-14.
It was a game-changing play by Marshall, as Bishop Canevin never recovered from it. Cross threw an interception on the next play following the 95-yard pick-six and was replaced on the next drive by freshman Kole Olszewski. The young quarterback was unable to give the Crusaders a spark, however.
Following an interception and three-and-out forced by the Bishop Canevin defense on Redbank Valley’s first two possessions of the game, Cross connected to Xavier Nelson down the right sideline for a 77-yard touchdown to put the Crusaders up 7-0.
Early in the second quarter, Cross kept the drive alive after scrambling for 15 yards on third-and-9 from Bishop Canevin’s 47-yard line. Two plays later, Keshawn Harris rushed for 28 yards off the left side to set the Crusaders up with a first-and-goal. On second-and-goal, Cross ran for a 1-yard touchdown to give Bishop Canevin a 14-0 advantage.
Redbank Valley answered on its next possession, as quarterback Bryson Bain escaped pressure and rushed for a 5-yard touchdown to cut the Crusaders lead to 14-7 with 4:52 remaining in the second quarter.
To end the second quarter, Bishop Canevin and Redbank Valley traded possessions that didn’t amount to much, and the Crusaders went into halftime with a 14-7 lead.
Bishop Canevin’s opening drive in the second half came to a halt, but head coach Richard Johnson called a fake punt with Nelson, who ran for 31 yards to set the Crusaders up at Redbank Valley’s 30-yard line. On third-and-12, Cross completed to Lesae Lacks for 21 yards to set the Crusaders up with a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. On the next play, however, Marshall picked off Cross and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to tie the score up at 14-14 with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter.
On the first play of Bishop Canevin’s next possession, Cross scrambled to the right and threw an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Tate Minich. Redbank Valley was set up with the ball at Bishop Canevin’s 40-yard line. Redbank Valley was unable to capitalize off the turnover and turned the ball over on downs.
Bishop Canevin gave the ball back to Redbank Valley following the defensive stop, as Jaiden Torres fumbled, and the Bulldogs came up with the loose ball at its own 43-yard line. The Crusaders turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the second half.
On third-and-20 from Redbank Valley’s 45-yard line, Blain completed to a wide-open Aiden Ortz for a first down. A few plays later, Brenden Shreckengost plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead with 11:29 remaining in the game.
On Redbank Valley’s following possession after a Bishop Canevin punt, Blain completed a screen to Marshall for a 22-yard gain. Shreckengost then went for first-down yardage on two consecutive carries to set up Noah Blum for a 31-yard field goal, which was well short.
After the missed field goal by Blum, Joe Mansfield sacked Olszewski in the end zone for a safety to put the Bulldogs up 23-14 with 5:08 left in the game. Redbank Valley drained some clock following the safety and Bishop Canevin got the ball back with under two minutes. On one last heave, Olszewski threw deep but was picked off by Marshall and that secured Redbank Valley’s birth to the PIAA Class 1A final against Bishop Guilfoyle at Hersheypark Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 9. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.