WEXFORD, Pa. — In last year’s WPIAL Class-1A playoffs, Bishop Canevin faced heartbreak in the championship game, losing to Union Area 26-0. But this year, the Crusaders are back in the playoffs and ready to get some revenge for last year’s defeat.
No. 3 seeded Bishop Canevin (9-1) kicked off its 2023 revenge tour with a 49-6 rout of No. 14 seeded Leechburg on Friday night at North Allegheny High School. West Virginia commit and Bishop Canevin senior athlete Jason Cross came up big for the Crusaders on both sides of the ball, hauling in two touchdowns and making several key stops on defense.
Leechburg was capable of scoring several times, but the Crusaders’ defense continuously stymied the Blue Devils’ offense throughout the night. Cross was especially potent on defense, showing off his tackling skills to help crush the Blue Devils.
Bishop Canevin began the game with a bold move, kicking an onside kick to take possession of the first drive. But the Crusaders’ brazen strategy paid off, as they marched down the field and scored a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. Cross finished off the drive for the Crusaders, hauling in a short pass for his first touchdown of the night.
Cross followed up the strong first drive with another touchdown. This time, Crusaders’ quarterback Cole Olszewski connected with Cross on a long route, allowing the West Virginia commit to find open grass and make his way into the endzone. Cross’ efforts allowed the Crusaders to take a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Leechburg had little answer for Bishop Canevin’s early dominance. The Blue Devils attempted to punt the ball with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, but Crusader senior linebacker Najeh Austin blocked the kick. Austin’s block allowed Bishop Canevin senior TyJer Clayton to return the fumble for a touchdown. The special teams blunder put the Blue Devils down 21-0, as the game quickly got out of hand.
The Crusaders capped off their dominant first quarter with one final touchdown. With mere seconds remaining in the quarter, Bishop Canevin runningback Marquis Carter showed off his legs, finding a hole before rushing 65 yards for another Crusaders touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, Bishop Canevin held a comfortable 28-0 lead.
And the Crusaders did not let up the gas heading into the second quarter. With seven minutes remaining in the half, Olszewski connected with wide receiver Azjaun Marshall in the red zone. Marshall then utilized his speed, sprinting 16 yards into the endzone to put the Crusaders up 35-0.
Just over two minutes later, Olszewski found wide receiver Jayden Lindsey open for a 64-yard touchdown, putting the Crusaders up by 42 with limited time in the second quarter. The Crusaders capped off their high-energy first half with another touchdown, as Carter found open space again and rushed for a long touchdown.
Bishop Canevin entered the locker room holding a commanding 49-0 lead. Both offenses stalled out after halftime, as neither team was able to score in the third quarter.
Leechburg found its first touchdown of the night with just over a minute remaining in the game. But it was too little too late, as the Crusaders bled out the clock to walk away with a 49-6 victory.
The Crusaders will play the winner of the California-Jeannette game in the next round of the WPIAL Playoffs.