Elizabeth Forward blanks North Catholic to reach 1st WPIAL title game

Friday, November 6, 2020 | 11:46 PM

To come away with a win over North Catholic on Friday, Elizabeth Forward coach Mike Collodi knew his defensive unit had to play fast and physical, win the turnover battle and compete for a full 48 minutes.

Knowing those tasks are easier said than done against the unbeaten Trojans, the Warriors showed no fear in crossing each off their to-do list.

Third-seeded EF limited its opponent to just 126 yards of total offense and forced four second-half turnovers en route to capturing a 17-0 victory over second-seeded North Catholic in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals at Mars.

With the win, the Warriors (8-0) advance to play top-seeded Central Valley in the title game next Friday night at North Allegheny.

Elizabeth Forward will be playing in the title game for the first time in program history.

“I always say ‘fast and physical’ and we definitely did that tonight,” Collodi said. “We swarmed to the ball, we created turnovers and special teams were good for us. Everything we set out to do, we did.”

Elizabeth Forward held on to a slim 3-0 lead at halftime before forcing North Catholic (8-1) to fumble on its first two second-half possessions.

The first fumble was recovered by DaVontay Brownfield, but the Warriors were unable to capitalize on the offensive side, turning the ball over on downs.

The ball quickly went back to EF as North Catholic fumbled on the third play of its next drive. Nicholas Murphy was credited with fumble recovery.

EF started its next possession at the Trojans’ 30-yard line and capped off a short four-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Brownfield. The Warriors running back had 20 of his 27 rushing yards on the drive.

“DaVontay brings so much emotion to us and he’s so fiery,” Collodi said. “The kids definitely fed off of that touchdown.”

Nico Mrvos came up with EF’s third turnover of the game late in the third quarter as he picked off a pass by North Catholic’s Joey Prentice.

Two possessions later, it was Mrvos getting the job done on the offensive side of the ball.

He rushed for 45 yards on EF’s first drive of the fourth quarter and capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown run. An extra point by Andrew Smith, who had a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter, made it a three-possession game.

Mrvos led the Warriors with 16 carries for 92 yards.

“Our team is so resilient, they don’t care who we play or what the circumstances are, they just want to play football,” Collodi said. “They’re so physical and they have fun doing it.”

North Catholic threatened on its final drive of the game, getting down to EF’s 22-yard line after 10 plays. On the 11th play, however, the Warriors’ defense struck again, as Charles Buchina forced a fumble and Spencer Ross recovered it to give EF a chance to run out the remaining three minutes.

“These kids executed and all the credit goes to them,” Collodi said. “That’s the best game I’ve ever seen any EF team play in my six years. They were just unbelievable.”

North Catholic possessed the ball three times in the first half. The first two drives resulted in punts, while the third ended with a missed 36-yard field goal by Ethan Marsico.

The Trojans punted twice in the second half and saw their other four drives end in turnovers.

“I would go to war with these kids any day,” said Collodi, whose team picked up its first playoff win in 20 years last week. “They have my back and I have theirs. This is a really special group.”

Watch an archived version of this broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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