Clairton blanks Cornell, books trip to WPIAL finals
Friday, November 8, 2019 | 11:02 PM
After a two-year hiatus, it’s back to Heinz Field for the top-seeded Clairton Bears.
Facing a Cornell team that won its first playoff game a week ago, Clairton jumped to an early advantage and rolled to a 39-0 WPIAL Class A semifinal victory Friday night at Chartiers-Houston High School.
The Bears (10-2) scored on their first two possessions, and a pair of pass interceptions led to scores each time.
Senior Brendan Parsons threw for 163 yards — all in the first half — and junior running back Isaiah Berry carried the ball for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Clairton will seek its 14th WPIAL title against Sto-Rox at Heinz Field at 11 a.m. next Saturday. The Bears are now 66-23 all-time in WPIAL playoff games.
No. 4 seed Cornell (9-2) ended the most successful season in the school’s 49 years with its first semifinals appearance.
After starting the season with an un-Clairton-like two losses, the Bears have won 10 in a row.
“I’ve said it over the last few weeks: defense wins championships,” Bears coach Wayne Wade said. “Our ‘D’ showed up tonight against a talented team that’s scored a lot of points against a lot of good teams.”
Clairton held Cornell to minus-25 rushing yards.
Kenlein Ogletree got the scoring underway with a 32-yard pass from Parsons.
After a Kanye Hawkins interception that was returned to the Raiders 18, Ogletree scored on a 21-yard pass from Parsons just inside the right sideline.
Andre Henderson then picked off a Zaire Harrison pass at midfield. On the following play, Berry scored from 50 yards out and Clairton had a 21-0 lead with 9 minutes, 18 seconds left in the second period.
“We got behind a little bit and struggled,” Cornell coach Ed Dawson said. “Having the team that we have, we fought as hard as we could. I know this ended not quite the way we wanted, but we took it as long as we could. That’s a great football team. They are who they are.”
Cornell drove to the Clairton 17 late in the half, but lost the ball on downs.
After two touchdowns were called back in the same drive, a 21-yard pass to Jonte Sanders put the Bears in front, 27-0.
Clairton took the second-half kickoff and drove 61 yards in eight plays with Berry scoring from 5 yards out.
The Bears concluded the scoring with a 12-play drive that took 10 minutes off the second-half clock.
Parsons completed 11 of his first 12 passes.
Said Wade: “It’s been getting better all year. He had to get adjusted to a new offensive coordinator (Anthony St. Angelo) to what he wants to have, and now you’re starting to see it. We took our lumps early in the year, and usually that doesn’t happen.”
Parsons now has 1,698 passing yards on the season with 19 touchdowns.
Friday also marked the end of a brilliant career for Harrison, who passed for 2,089 yards on the season, giving the senior 5,238 career yards.
“It’s awesome to coach him,” Dawson said. “He’s been a great kid for four years. I’m sad for it to end for this group.”
Harrison played wide receiver late in the game while freshman E.J. Dawson took some snaps.
Clairton is now 3-0 against Cornell in the playoffs, adding to victories in 2011 and 1990.