Behind Tillman’s 4 TDs, Central Catholic beats Mt. Lebanon, moves into 1st-place tie in Class 6A

Friday, October 25, 2019 | 11:01 PM

Central Catholic’s gameplan usually features a stifling defense and a strong running game with Eddy Tillman dominating behind a powerful offensive line.

That script worked to perfection again Friday night as Central Catholic scored 38 unanswered points in a 45-7 victory at Mt. Lebanon.

The 5-foot-8 Tillman might not be tall in stature but his performance as the feature back for the Vikings has been big.

Against Mt. Lebanon, Tillman rushed for 206 yards and 4 touchdowns.

“We came into tonight wanting to dominate the line of scrimmage,” Tillman said. “It’s nice to run behind this line. They open big holes, and all I have to do is split them.”

That performance marked the eighth straight game Tillman has gained more than 100 yards, and his yardage total was his second highest this season behind a 242-yard effort against Norwin.

The key to that success is simple, Tillman said.

“Just good practices. Everyone keeps having a good practices, and we’re all on the same page.”

This was the second consecutive game Tillman scored four touchdowns, getting four last week against Canon-McMillan.

Tillman started the game with nine consecutive carries, but the first score for Central Catholic came through the air. Quarterback Dom Pieto capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive by hitting Anderson Cynkar on a slant for a 9-yard score early in the second quarter.

Pieto was efficient, completing 7 of 8 passes for 91 yards and the touchdown.

“Dom played real well tonight. He had only one incompletion. He really stepped up tonight,” Tillman said.

Mt. Lebanon didn’t have to wait long to answer. Three plays later, Mason Ventrone burst through the line and down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown, and the score was tied 7-7.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, that’s all the scoring they could generate, as Tillman and the Vikings offense went into high gear.

Three plays after the Ventrone touchdown, Tillman scored his first of four consecutive touchdowns on a 37-yard run to give the Vikings a 14- 7 lead.

After Kairos Beasley blocked a punt, Central Catholic took possession on the Mt. Lebanon 9, and, on fourth and 1, Tillman scored.

Johnathan Opalko converted a 36-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining before halftime to put Central Catholic up 24-7 at the break.

The Tillman show continued in the third quarter as he added touchdown runs of 26 and 66 yards, and Central Catholic led 38-7 at the end of the third quarter.

The final Vikings score came from backup quarterback Adam Obrin on a 4-yard run. That capped a 96-yard drive in which Antonio Pitts carried the ball the first 10 plays of the drive, gaining 92 yards.

Central’s defense held Mt. Lebanon to 33 yards rushing and 43 total yards in the first half. The Vikings sacked Blue Devils quarterback Joey Daniels twice in the game.

“It’s wonderful to watch these guys play defense from the sideline,” Tillman said. “They’ve been together since they were sophomores, and they have just been playing great along the line of scrimmage.”

With the win, the second-ranked Vikings improved to (9-1, 7-1). No. 4 Mt. Lebanon fell to (6-4, 5-3) on the season. The Blue Devils needed to upset the Vikings for a chance to tie for second place in the conference.

Mt. Lebanon had already clinched a spot in the Class 6A playoffs. Central Catholic’s win coupled with Pine-Richland’s victory over North Allegheny forced a three-way tie atop the conference between the Vikings, the Rams and the Tigers.

“We didn’t really talk about it (the scenario for a three-way tie). We just wanted to focus on making sure we ran our gameplan well,” Tillman said. “I have to give a shout out to my offensive line. (Ameer and Amaar Allen, Matt Altsman, Liam Kearney and Thomas Hartnett). Those guys make it easy for me sometimes.”

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