NEPA Sports Nation

Bishop McDevitt blanks Crestwood

EXETER TWP. – Stone Saunders completed 17 of 21 passes in the first half, then Rico Scott added a crushing 78-yard touchdown return of the second-half kickoff Friday night when Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt ended Crestwood’s storybook season with a 35-0 romp in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 4A state football semifinals.

The Crusaders have strung together a dozen consecutive Mercy Rule victories since losing their opener. They return to the state championship game Thursday night to face unbeaten Aliquippa.

Crestwood went from 3 wins to 13 in one season. The Comets (13-2) came into the game with a 12-game winning streak that produced Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 and District 2 Class 4A titles as well as the first state tournament victory in the program’s history.

“We knew we had great kids with character,” Crestwood coach Ryan Arcangeli said. “We were 3-8 last year, but we really thought we could turn things around and I think overall, we had a pretty darn good result.”

Bishop McDevitt gradually built a 20-point halftime lead, then quickly added to it at the beginning of the second half.

“We did some good things, especially defensively,” Arcangeli said. “We held them to 20 in the first half, had a lot of chance to get off the field and on third and fourth down, their kids made plays. Of course, it’s frustrating to not be able to get off the field, but what can you do, their kids made plays.

“We felt like we were in the game, but then the kickoff return TD to start the second half was really a killer.”

The Comets picked up two first downs and held the ball for 6:31 on the opening drive, but did not manage another first down until getting four, three of them on penalties, on a fourth-quarter possession.

“We knew we had to keep them off balance because they have so much speed,” Arcangeli said of a usually ground-heavy attack that wound up going to the air 18 times. “ … We knew we had to do some different things because we weren’t going to be able to just line up against McDevitt and maul them.”

The Comets got as far as the 26, but a third-down tackle for a loss, a penalty and an incomplete pass allowed the Crusaders to hold at the 32.

Crestwood made Bishop McDevitt’s offense, which averaged 50 points per game coming in, work, but the Crusaders used their second fourth-down conversion to break through on the last play of a first quarter that featured just one possession for each team.

Magnus Bibla’s third-down sack, with help from Cole Kakalecik, brought up fourth-and-17.

From there, Saunders hit Scott in the middle of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown and 6-0 lead.

Bishop McDevitt score on its first three possessions.

The Crusaders went 68 yards on 7 plays to score on a 7-yard Saunders slant pass to Tyshawn Russell.

Marquese Williams made a cut, then ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown with 3:20 left in the half, capping a seven-play, 52-yard scoring drive. He carried 4 times for 37 yards in the drive.

Kakalecik recovered a fumble to stop the next drive, then Crestwood held on fourth-and-one at its 31 with 21 seconds left in the half.

Bishop McDevitt finished the half with a 259-18 total offense advantage, largely because of Saunders throwing for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. Saunders often threw short passes underneath coverage, then his receivers added yards from there.

Saunders sent the game into the Mercy Rule on the first Bishop McDevitt offensive possession of the first half. He hit Russell with a 15-yard touchdown pass, then threw to Scott for the two-pointer.

Russell finished with 9 catches for 89 yards while Scott had 7 for 111 yards. Saunders finished with 235 yards passing.

Bishop McDevitt held Crestwood to 11 yards rushing and 15 yards passing.

The game was marred by a combined 28 penalties for 267 yards.

NOTE: This story was created from the on-site reporting of Paul Gerrity.

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