Allderdice sets tone early, tops University Prep in City League semifinals

Saturday, November 7, 2020 | 7:36 PM

All eyes were on Shakur Pack-Adams and the Allderdice Dragons as the senior quarterback led his team to a scrappy 25-21 victory over University Prep in the Pittsburgh City League semifinals on a glimmering, unseasonably warm fall Saturday afternoon at George Cupples Stadium on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Pack-Adams was the Dragons’ primary ball-handler, completing 7 of 19 passing attempts for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception along with 22 rushes for 75 yards.

Allderdice (4-1) advanced to the championship game Saturday at Cupples Stadium where they have a chance to win the fourth title in program history and third in four years against Westinghouse.

It certainly was not a pretty game, as Dragons coach Jerry Haslett said, as each team committed 15 penalties, but the longtime field general will still accept the result.

“We dropped three (potential) touchdown passes (in the end zone throughout the game),” Haslett said. “We drove right down the field in the beginning of the game, which I thought set the tone, but I thought we should have been up a couple more scores.

“It is what it is. A win is win.”

Allderdice’s offense started the playoff contest in accelerated fashion, producing a three-play, 72-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Pack-Adams to Naeron Smith. Will Koontz’s extra point made the score 7-0 a minute and a half into the game.

After five straight scoreless possessions, University Prep (2-3) finally answered when Trevell Taylor recovered a fumbled Allderdice punt return by Saveionne Randolph, giving the Wildcats the ball at their own 47-yard line.

A 40-yard pass from Keon Smalls to Amare Gee eventually led to a 2-yard touchdown run from Smalls at 7:08 in the second quarter. Tyrone Lyons kicked the point after to tie the game at 7-7. Smalls was University Prep’s leading offensive player, completing 8 of 21 passing attempts for 146 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Allderdice answered the score 13 seconds later on an 87-yard kickoff return by Marcel Holyfield. Koontz made the point after to make it 14-7.

Koontz also made a 26-yard field goal with four minutes left in the first half to grow the Dragons’ lead to 10. Pack-Adams, however, fumbled an attempted punt out of the back of his team’s end zone for a safety with 10 seconds remaining to cut the Wildcats’ deficit to 17-9 at halftime.

Even though University Prep did catch some breaks such as the two-point play before the half, coach Lou Berry thought his squad suffered from too many self-inflicted wounds throughout the game.

“The toughest thing to overcome was the inordinate amount of penalties, some of which were the unsportsmanlike variety, which is not a true picture of what this team is about,” Berry said. “When you continue to shoot yourself in the foot with massive penalties, we are already dealing with a tough opponent, it makes your job that much tougher.”

Four minutes into the second half, Pack-Adams threw his second touchdown pass of the game on a 16-yard connection to Randolph. The Dragons completed a two-point pass from Pack-Adams to Smith to increase their lead to 25-9.

University Prep retaliated with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Smalls to Zymere Bibb at the 4:32 mark of the third quarter, followed by a failed running conversion by Smalls after a penalty pushed them back to the 12-yard line.

Another Wildcat score occurred 1:11 later as Amir McLeod pushed his way to a 4-yard touchdown. Despite Lyons missing the extra point, Allderdice’s lead was dashed to 25-21 heading into the final period of play.

Despite their opponent’s ability to score, the Dragons’ defense played a vital role in the victory. The Wildcats were held to 166 yards, including 20 rushing, and allowed no more than 16 yards from one individual. Only three of Smalls’s eight rushes were for positive yardage. Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

“Our biggest strength usually is our defense, which gave a little bit, but our offense gave them some points to work with, but our biggest thing for next week is discipline,” Haslett said. “We have to be disciplined, ready to play and stay true to ourselves playing our game and everything will fall where it may.”

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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