Clairton eliminates Springdale from playoff contention, sets up showdown with Jeannette

Friday, October 18, 2019 | 11:03 PM

Springdale knew it would need to play a near-perfect game to keep its WPIAL playoff hopes alive in a matchup against No. 2 Clairton.

However, the Bears capitalized on back-to-back short fields with touchdowns in the first half to provide Clairton (7-2, 5-0) all the cushion it needed in a 43-7 win over Springdale (6-3, 2-3) on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Springdale in Class A Eastern Conference play.

Junior running back Isaiah Berry ran seven times for 167 yards and four touchdowns for the Bears.

“Berry is starting to understand how that zone run works,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “He stands in the pocket and he has enough speed and quickness. If he gets behind those big guys, it’s hard to see him and he squirts out and he’s gone.”

Berry started the scoring when he navigated through Dynamo defenders for a 7-yard touchdown run.

Springdale quickly tied the game when senior running back Christian Vokes scored on a 51-yard run.

The Bears responded even quicker when Berry scampered 63 yards on the first play of their ensuing drive.

“He’s a really good running back,” Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski said. “That’s the best running we’ve faced all year. He was tough to contain and with athletes like that that can make you miss in space, it’s going to be tough.”

A couple drives later after a bad punt by Springdale, Clairton relied on Berry for another big play. He ran it in from 32 yards out on the Bears’ first play of the drive again to give Clairton a 21-7 lead with over 11 minutes left in the first half.

On Springdale’s next drive, the Dynamos had a bad snap while in punt formation, setting up the Bears at Springdale’s 10-yard line. A couple plays later, junior running back Dontae Sanders ran it in from 3 yards out to extend the Bears’ lead to 27-7.

“We’ve faced a lot of adversity all year,” Wade said. “We were down a bunch of kids the first three games and we were down to 17 players for the Greensburg (Central Catholic) game. Getting down early isn’t a big deal for us. We just know we need to come back and play our brand of football.”

With the loss, Springdale was eliminated from playoff contention, while Clairton eyes a pivotal matchup with at home against Jeannette next week that will decide the winner of the Eastern Conference.

“We wanted to leave it all on the field,” Napierkowski said. “It was senior night. I thought earlier in the year when we played Jeannette, we came out flat. I thought today was completely opposite. I’m not sure the score indicates how well we played. The guys gave a great effort and didn’t back down from a team like that.”

Clairton caused four Springdale turnovers — an interception and three fumbles. Springdale, which was penalized heavily in the first half, was held to 176 yards of total offense.

The game was delayed for around 30 minutes as medical personnel had to tend to a pair of medical emergencies during halftime.

In the second half, the Bears didn’t ease off the gas pedal as they rushed for a pair of touchdowns from Berry and senior quarterback Brendan Parsons.

Berry scored his fourth touchdown on a 55-yard run to start the half. Parsons scored on an 11-yard scramble after the Bears recovered a Springdale fumble in Dynamo territory.

Springdale will attempt to win at least seven games in a season for the first time since 2011 when it finished 8-3 and made it to the quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs when the Dynamos travel to Leechburg next week.

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