Ex-Jayhawk leads Greensburg Central Catholic past Jeannette

Friday, October 14, 2022 | 11:16 PM

Jaydin Canady likes to play against his former team.

The Greensburg Central Catholic senior scored four touchdowns, including one on a 90-yard interception return, as the Centurions overcame a slow start to defeat rival Jeannette, 44-0, on Friday night at Centurion Stadium.

Canady ran for 101 yards on five carries and two touchdowns and also caught a 77-yard score with just over a minute to play.

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” Canady said. “Come 7 o’clock Friday night, when the lights come on, we’re straight business.”

Canady had plenty of help.

Junior Da’sjon Craggette ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries for the Centurions (6-2, 4-0), who clinched a playoff spot with the homecoming win — their fourth victory in a row — and maintained their lead in the Class A Eastern Conference.

“We started out rough and let the little things bother us,” Craggette said. “But we picked it up after some mistakes. I didn’t know much about (the rivalry) because I am not from Jeannette or Greensburg. But it can get intense.”

Craggette transferred from Connellsville.

Jeannette, which suited up 20 players and was missing three junior starters, fell to 2-6, 2-2.

Jeremiah Williamson had to sit a game after he was ejected last week, while Michael Mason and Qjwonez Jackson had injuries.

The Jayhawks’ offense centered on senior Noah Sanders. The scatback, one of the leading receivers in the WPIAL, ran for 142 yards on 32 carries.

Jeannette only punted once as it readily tried to convert fourth downs and keep GCC quiet. But it had five drives end in Centurions’ territory.

“Our game plan was to play keepaway (from GCC),” Jeannette coach Tom Paulone said. “(Tyree) Turner really does a great job running that offense. He is one of the best in the WPIAL at it. We tried to keep them off the field.”

But when the Centurions’ offense was on the field, it moved the ball.

“Sometimes, guys get too overhyped for games like this,” GCC coach Marko Thomas said. “We had to settle down. We ran Da’sjon for some power, and then brought in Jaydin to mix it up.”

Last year, when GCC won 49-3 at McKee Stadium, Canady ran for 191 yards and scored three touchdowns after transferring from Jeannette.

Another former Jeannette player, senior lineman/linebacker Ryan Kimmel, caught a two-point conversion pass.

“The Jeannette guys are the best players on their team,” Paulone said. “I can see why they showcased those players tonight.”

Canady scored four straight touchdowns as GCC pulled away.

He found the end zone on a 53-yard cutback before he intercepted Jayhawks’ backup quarterback Kymone Brown, a freshman, and took it back 90 yards to give GCC a 30-0 lead at the half.

“Jaydin showed his versatility,” Thomas said. “When he gets going on the field, he is hard to stop.”

Two fourth-quarter scores for Canady included an 18-yard run and the 77-yard bomb from Turner, which caused a stir after the game.

“Jeannette tried to milk the ball, milk the ball, and we wanted to throw a pass,” Thomas said. “They sat on the clock. We only called one timeout tonight.”

Paulone did not comment on the final touchdown.

The teams had words during the handshake line and in a lot outside of the locker rooms, but the situation did not escalate.

GCC gained ground in the all-time series, which Jeannette still leads, 20-10-1. The win was just the Centurions’ third against the Jayhawks since 2011.

Jeannette possessed the ball well early but turned it over on downs three times in the first half.

The offense couldn’t equal a defense that recorded a pair of sacks, by sophomore Nick Stuchell and junior Peyton Molter, and had a fumble recovery by junior Jesse McCurdy.

Molter, the starting quarterback, was injured in the second quarter and did not return.

Craggette opened the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run to cap GCC’s opening drive.

Molter was sacked in the end zone for a safety to make it 8-0 early in the second quarter.

Senior Nate Dlugos had a fumble recovery for GCC.

Craggette gained 20 yards on back-to-back runs, the second going for a touchdown, and Kimmel’s conversion catch from Turner gave the Centurions a 16-0 lead with 9:43 to play in the first half.

“We want to keep getting better,” Thomas said. “We can’t overlook Riverview (next week), and we know Leechburg is a huge game in a couple weeks. We want to win the section.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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