Fort Cherry outruns Monessen for wild 1st-round playoff victory

Friday, November 4, 2022 | 11:54 PM

No. 11 Monessen had a stellar night of offense Friday, gaining more than 400 yards and scoring six touchdowns.

But No. 6 Fort Cherry had an even better night, with 553 yards in a 56-42 shootout win over the visiting Greyhounds in a WPIAL Class A first-round game at Jim Garry Stadium.

“When you watched Monessen on film, you could tell they were dangerous on offense with their speed,” Rangers coach Tanner Garry said. “But I liked our offense, too, and I take our offense in a shootout any day of the week. Both teams had big-play abilities and can flip this game at any given time.”

Matt Seig was the main catalyst for the Rangers (8-3) in their first postseason win since 2016 with 255 yards on 26 carries, 139 passing yards and a total of six touchdowns.

Fort Cherry scored on every possession except for one that ended with a fumble in the second quarter and the final drive of the night when the quarterback kneeled to drain the clock.

“I had a lot of room to run tonight,” Seig said. “Coaches came up with a solid gameplan, and I thought our line opened up a lot of holes for me and our backs. It was open all night. We thought we could score on every drive, and it kind of motivated us to keep on scoring.”

TyVaughn Kershaw led the Greyhounds (6-5) on the ground with 150 yards on 17 carries and a pair of scores. Quarterback Daniel Dozier was 10 for 19 with 144 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

“It was another crazy game for us,” Monessen coach Wade Brown said. “It was high scoring, but it was close. We just ran out of gas in the second half. I applaud our effort, but we just couldn’t cover anybody on defense. We were off-balanced, and their quarterback attacked us. He is a special athlete.”

On the second play of the night, Fort Cherry took a 6-0 lead on a 57-yard scoring run by Ethan Faletto. Seig then scored on a 2-yard run to put the Rangers up 13-0 after the first quarter.

Monessen grabbed momentum for the first time with 16 points in less than two minutes. Jeremere Majors rumbled for a 9-yard touchdown, followed by a 2-point pass to Lorenzo Gardner from Dozier.

After a Fort Cherry fumble, Dozier found Kershaw on a 54-yard screen pass for a touchdown. Majors converted the 2-point run, as Monessen led 16-13 with 8:40 left in the second quarter.

Seig scored on a 12-yard run for the Rangers, but the Greyhounds responded with a 54-yard scoring pass to Tim Kershaw from TyVaughn Kershaw for a 22-20 lead.

The teams again traded scores on the next two possessions, as Seig connected with Shane Cornali for a 35-yard touchdown pass followed by a 42-yard go-route touchdown by Gardner from Dozier.

Seig had the ball last in the first half with 49 seconds left, and, 43 seconds later, he scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Fort Cherry led 35-28 at halftime.

“Seig is a great player,” Brown said. “Seeing him on film is a lot different than seeing him in person. He is just very quick in space and can hit those gaps. When they took that late lead in the first half, it was a back breaker. If we had a lead at half, it could have changed some things. We couldn’t hold them off.”

The Greyhounds mounted a 13-play, 67-yard drive to open the second half and retook the lead, 36-35, with a 5-yard rushing score by TyVaughn Kershaw. The Rangers regrouped and, four plays later, took the lead for good, as Seig broke loose for a 57-yard score.

After a Monessen punt, Fort Cherry increased its edge to 49-36 on a 19-yard scoring run by Faletto, who finished the game with 124 yards on 15 carries.

The Greyhounds went into their bag of tricks on the next score five plays into the fourth quarter. Dozier completed a 6-yard pass to Rodney Johnson, who pitched the ball back to TyVaughn Kershaw for a 45-yard scoring run.

Leading 49-42, the Rangers methodically marched 12 plays for 68 yards, and Seig collected this final score with a 4-yard run.

“This was a great game, and I thought a lot of people step up for us on offense,” Garry said. “We ran the ball with our inside option and were able to hit some early pass plays. The kids had full confidence in our offense. With playoff football, it takes a whole team to win games. We are happy to move on.”

Fort Cherry will now play No. 14 Rochester, which upset Greensburg Central Catholic, in the quarterfinals Friday with a time and site to be determined.

Despite the loss, Brown still thinks his young squad grew up a lot during the season. Monessen was searching for its first playoff win since 2013.

“Hats off to Fort Cherry,” Brown said. “Not too many times do you score 42 points and lose. We just had no answer for their offense tonight. We couldn’t keep scoring with them. But this playoff loss will only make us better and stronger in the future. We have to build off this season.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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