Bishop Canevin stymies Leechburg in clash of Class A Eastern Conference contenders

Friday, October 8, 2021 | 10:36 PM

Leechburg hoped to maintain its high-scoring offense Friday night for the school’s homecoming game.

But the Bishop Canevin defense had other ideas, holding the Blue Devils to just three points on a game-opening drive and tackling Leechburg 14 times for loss in a 33-3 Eastern Conference victory at Leechburg Veteran Stadium.

Junior playmaker Lasae Lacks, who became well-known earlier this season when a clip of him hurdling an opposing player made the rounds on YouTube, scored three touchdowns in three ways for the Crusaders.

Lacks tallied on a 41-yard punt return with 24 seconds left in the first period, caught a 32-yard scoring pass from Jason Cross with 15 seconds left in the half and then returned the second-half kickoff 62 yards to put the game out of reach.

The victory puts Bishop Canevin (6-1, 3-1) on the cusp of a WPIAL playoff berth. The Crusaders are a game behind Clairton in the conference standings and can clinch a postseason berth with a victory next Saturday at home against Jeannette.

“We were getting a lot of disrespect, but again, we wanted to hang our hat on our defense,” said Crusaders coach Rich Johnson. “Tonight, they were averaging nearly 50 points a game and our guys took the challenge and took it to them.”

Leechburg (5-2, 2-2) was hoping to secure its first winning season in 30 years. Instead, the Blue Devils will try again next Saturday afternoon against Riverview.

“It was rough,” Blue Devils coach Randy Walters said. “We did not come out very well. A few little things went wrong, and the simple fact was they’re a damn good football team and we did not tackle well at all and did not come off the ball well.”

Leechburg took the opening kickoff and moved the well. After Jaiden Torres sacked quarterback Thomas Burke, the Blue Devils settled for a 37-yard field goal from Jake Schuffert, a soccer player who just joined the football team this week.

The Blue Devils managed only three first downs over their next nine possessions as the Bishop Canevin defense took over.

Said Johnson: “We really got after it, I mean we really got after it. We have multiple guys that can do the job. We’re not just a one-man show.”

The score could have been worse, but the Crusaders had three touchdowns called back. Johnson said 15 touchdowns plays have been called back on penalties through seven games.

Jason Cross got Bishop Canevin on the scoreboard with a 26-yard run on a draw to culminate an eight-play drive following the Leechburg field goal.

Sophomore running back Marquis Carter contributed 111 yards on 13 carries and a 17-yard touchdown to put the Crusaders ahead, 19-3, with 7 minutes, 43 seconds left in the half.

Burke, who came into the game with 1,379 passing yards, threw for 108 yards and had a pair of interceptions.

Braylan Lovelace had 59 rushing yards on 18 carries, giving the junior 829 yards on the season.

“They did what they needed to do” Walters said. “They pounded us, and all the credit to them. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We had a nice pass completion, and the guy takes the ball from us.”

Xavier Johnson stripped the ball from Logan Kline in the second quarter, then had an interception in the third.

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