Do-it-all QB Robert Kennedy propels undefeated Jeannette past Springdale

Friday, October 6, 2017 | 10:21 PM

In its first home game since the passing of legendary coach Chuck Wagner, Springdale was able to “hang in there tough” with the top-ranked Class A team in the WPIAL for a half.

But Jeannette's quick-strike ability led by do-everything quarterback Robert Kennedy proved to be too much.

Kennedy scored on a 2-yard run with 16.5 seconds remaining in the first half and added three scores in the second half to lead the Class A No. 1 Jayhawks to a 42-14 victory over the Dynamos in an Eastern Conference game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

With 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Kennedy orchestrated a 78-yard drive with his feet and through the air. It culminated with his short touchdown run that made it 21-7 going into halftime.

Kennedy then rushed for a 31-yard score on the first possession of the second half and threw a 25-yard TD strike to Marcus Barnes on the next drive. Kennedy finished with 145 yards rushing and 177 yards passing for the Jayhawks (7-0, 5-0).

“He works hard on the field, off the field, in the classroom and in the weight room,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “He never gets tired. He's got moves that could probably win ‘Dancing with the Stars,' and he's not even on a stage. He's playing football. He's a great leader, and because he's so good, it opens up other people we have, who are very good athletes.”

Before Kennedy took center stage, Springdale put forth a determined effort in the first two quarters.

Down 7-0 early in the second, Springdale (3-4, 2-2) grinded out a 15-play, 82-yard drive and scored on a fourth-and-goal pass from Josh Jones to Scott Landis, which tied the score at 7-7.

Jeannette responded by retaking the lead in five plays. Seth Howard broke free and scored on 31-yard run, capping a drive that lasted just over a minute.

Springdale had another promising drive stall on a fourth-and-2 at the Jeannette 22, which preceded the Jayhawks' late score before the half.

“I can't be disappointed with the effort we put forward. That's a really good football team we played tonight,” Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski said. “It shows the type of character we have on our team that they were willing to fight like that even as huge underdogs. I told the guys it was my fault they scored that last touchdown. I should have called a different play on that fourth down that they stopped us on. If we get a first down, then maybe it's only 13-7 going into halftime.”

Jones, who threw for 107 yards, connected with Dylan Hargenrader for 29-yard score late in the fourth.

The win did come at a cost for the Jayhawks as linemen Jordon Sullivan and Jalen Jones were injured in the first quarter. Neither returned, and Hall said they will be evaluated.

“We lost both our starting tackles, both offensively and defensively,” Hall said. “That hurts, especially at a single-A school. We'll check them out and see what (the injury) is.”

During a pregame ceremony, Springdale players, coaches and cheerleaders released orange, black and white balloons to honor Wagner, who died two weeks ago. Jeannette athletic director Anthony DeNunzio and Hall provided helmet stickers to both teams honoring Wagner.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

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