CANONSBURG, Pa. — It looked like Canon-McMillan was going to pull off its first win against Pittsburgh Central Catholic since 1953, but the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points in the second half and defeated the Big Macs, 31-20, on Friday night at Big Mac Stadium.
The Vikings looked like a completely different defense in the second half, as they were relentless and gave up very little. The offense ran more smoothly, as well. It was a much-needed win for the Vikings, as they were 2-3 and 0-2 in Tri-County Five Conference play. Canon-McMillan dropped to 2-4 with the loss.
On the opening possession of the game, Central Catholic failed to convert on fourth-and-7 from Canon-McMillan’s 24-yard line and turned the ball over on downs. Bic Macs’ linebacker Geno Calgaro came up to stop Vikings’ quarterback Payton Wehner just short of the first down marker. A few plays earlier, Calgaro also had a tackle for loss.
Following the turnover on downs, Mike Evans marched Canon-McMillan down the field and capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Austyn Winkleblech to put the Big Macs up 6-0 with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point was no good. Evans completed several passes over the middle on the drive and did as such on the touchdown pass to Winkleblech, who ran a post pattern.
Wehner completed to Vernon Settles for first down yardage on third-and-13, but that was the Vikings’ only first down on the possession, as the Big Macs forced a punt. Evans threw a dime down the seam to Treyvon Mullen to increase Canon-McMillan’s lead to 13-0. Central Catholic was in Cover 3 and Mullen beat the safety for the score.
Wehner answered with a 42-yard completion to Settles on third-and-6. Two plays later, Wehner connected to Jayden Drift for 14 yards to set up the Vikings at the Big Macs’ 10-yard line. The promising possession stalled, however, and Central Catholic settled for a 25-yard field goal by Billy Lech to cut Canon McMillan’s lead to 13-3 with 8:26 left in the second quarter.
Vikings’ cornerback Xxavier Thomas picked off Evans and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to make it a 13-10 game with 7:28 remaining in the first half. Thomas just sat on the curl route and read the play perfectly.
On the last play of the half, Evans off a play-action bootleg to the left found Kent McMahon in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Big Macs a 20-10 lead at halftime.
After a forced three-and-out to start the second half, Wehner led Central Catholic down the field and finished off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Settles to cut Canon-McMillan’s lead to 20-17 with 8:52 left in the third quarter. On the scoring play, Wehner stepped up in the pocket and found an open Settles in the back of the end zone.
After scoring a touchdown, Settles made a great defensive play as well, as he had a toe-tapping interception in the end zone to put a halt to Canon-McMillan’s drive.
On fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Wehner rolled to the left after faking the handoff and found a wide-open Dylan Deasy for a touchdown to give Central Catholic its first lead of the game at 24-20. It was the second fourth-down conversion by the Vikings on the drive, as on fourth-and-1 from Canon-McMillan’s 31-yard line, Elijah Faulkner just barely got the first down on a run out of the Wildcat formation.
Central Catholic continued to dominate in the second half, as Thomas had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the Vikings up 31-20 with 11:41 left in the game. The Vikings out-scored Canon McMillan 21-0 in the second half.
Settles picked off Evans to secure the win for the Vikings. It was Settles’ second interception of the night.
Central Catholic will host Pine-Richland next Friday at Carnegie Mellon, while Canon-McMillan will visit Baldwin.