Bishop Canevin begins quest for another WPIAL title with rout of Leechburg

Friday, November 3, 2023 | 9:59 PM

The third-seeded Bishop Canevin Crusaders began their quest to reclaim WPIAL gold with a dominant 49-6 win over the No. 14 Leechburg Blue Devils in a Class A first-round matchup Friday night at North Allegheny.

Bishop-Canevin (9-1), the 2021 WPIAL Class A champs, won the coin toss, deferred and shocked the Blue Devils with an onside kick that was recovered at the Leechburg 40 yard line.

Just five plays later, the Crusaders struck for their first of seven first-half touchdowns when Kole Olszewski found Jason Cross from 9 yards out.

After a quick three and out, it took the Crusaders just three plays before Olszewski and Cross teamed up for another touchdown, this time from 64 yards away.

“I thought we were focused for the playoffs” Crusaders coach Rich Johnson said. “We have a good team and we know we have a good team, so some of the guys weren’t focused. They know if we don’t come to play, we could go home and we’re not ready to go home yet.”

Leechburg then put together its first drive that extended beyond three plays, but the ensuing punt was blocked by Najeh Austin and retuned 45 yards by TyJer Clayton for the touchdown, which extended the Crusaders lead to 21.

Leechburg was able to force Bishop Canevin into its only three-and-out of the first half, but on the ensuing Crusaders’ possession, Marquis Carter took the first snap 65 yards for the touchdown. Carter added another long TD run, this time from 71 yards away, with 1:05 remaining in the first half to cap Bishop Canevin’s 49-point outburst.

The second half welcomed the running clock and many of the Crusaders second teamers, who were unable to muster any additional points.

Leechburg (6-5) was held scoreless through the third quarter, but a 20-play, 83-yard drive led by junior quarterback Jaydyn Floyd resulted in a touchdown with just seconds remaining in the game.

Floyd finished with 95 yards through the air and was over 100 total yards for the game.

Discussing the fourth quarter effort of his team, Leechburg coach Randy Walters added: “It means that we kept playing football. We didn’t quit and play until the end of the game. These kids are tough as nails.”

Bishop Canevin’s Olszewski was outstanding in the first half, completing 7 of 9 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns. Carter only needed seven carries to reach his final total of 152 yards and two scores.

West Virginia commit Jason Cross added three catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns and Az’Jaun Marshall and Jayden Lindsey added touchdown catches as well.

“We just have so many weapons, it sometimes hard to get everyone the ball,” Johnson said. “They’re unselfish, and we’re proud of the guys for competing.”

Leechburg finishes the season at 6-5 after making its third straight playoff appearance. Bishop Canevin improves to 9-1 and will face No. 6 California next week in the quarterfinal round.

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