The Thomas Jefferson Jaguars secured a share of their section championship with a 20-10 win over then-undefeated McKeesport, led by junior receiver Sean Sullivan’s two long touchdowns.
Facing the undefeated Tigers on the road, Sullivan said he needed some time to let his nerves settle.
A first quarter touchdown he snatched from the arms of a defender was just what the doctor ordered.
“That first one, I had all the nerves in my body,” Sullivan said. “I was still nervous about the game…but as soon as I made that play…all of them went away. I knew we could win.”
He caught his second touchdown to open the third quarter, streaking down the middle of the field untouched on a deep route.
With all eyes in the stadium on him and open grass ahead, Sullivan described how he dealt with the pressure of the moment.
“When I got that wide open touchdown, the last thing you want to do is drop it,” Sullivan said. “You’ve just gotta focus on the ball. I know my man [quarterback] Brody [Evans] is gonna throw me a good ball every time.”
McKeesport’s offense stormed down the field to open the game, scoring their lone touchdown 103 seconds in. Even after a rough start, Sullivan said that the Jaguars knew they had four quarters to rewrite the story.
“We weren’t just gonna quit after they got one touchdown,” Sullivan said. “We knew we had to push harder, just keep pushing and pushing and pushing until we got that W.”
It didn’t hurt that the Jaguars are used to playing in big games. They won back-to-back PIAA state championships in 2019 and 2020. Perhaps they hold themselves to a higher standard because of it.
After the game, Jaguars head coach Bill Cherpak didn’t mince words when asked how it felt to be co-section champions.
“I’m not happy about the co-.”
Heading into the playoffs with a 7-3 record, Sullivan issued a warning.
“Just watch out. The Thomas Jefferson Jaguars are coming.”