Gateway knocked out by Archbishop Wood on last-minute field goal

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Friday, November 29, 2019 | 6:45 PM


ALTOONA — Gateway’s wait for its first PIAA football championship continues.

Chamor Price’s dazzling run with a screen pass for a 30-yard touchdown near the end of the third quarter tied the game and put the WPIAL Class 5A champion Gators in position to play for the state title next week. However, Gateway couldn’t administer the knockout punch, turning the ball over four times and losing to Philadelphia Catholic League power Archbishop Wood, 24-21, at Mansion Park on Friday.

“It’s hard. It’s hard,” said Price, who caught seven passes for 108 yards. “We fought and fought. We came back. We tried as hard as we could.”

The deciding points came on Viking senior Robbie Meyer’s 25-yard field goal with 3 seconds left. The Gators had a chance when the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving them the ball at their own 40 for a final play, but a series of laterals lost 8 yards before the play was whistled dead.

Gateway finished the season 12-3. The Gators also lost to Wood in the 2017 state title game.

“When it ends, whether it’s the state semifinals or the regular season, it’s tough,” Gateway coach Don Holl said. “We had a multitude of chances. We just didn’t get it done.”

The Gators lost three fumbles in the second half, two in Archbishop Wood territory. They also committed 10 penalties — three of those negated touchdowns, including one on a Bryson Venanzio-to-Tui Faumuina-Brown pass in the fourth quarter that would have given Gateway the lead.

“We just made too many mistakes,” Holl said. “I know it’s going to sound like sour grapes, but I thought we were the better team today.”

Archbishop Wood (10-3) will play for its seventh state title in 12 years next week. The Vikings got 239 yards on 27 carries from Kaelin Costello, including touchdown runs of 73 and 95 yards in the first half.

Meyer had been just short on a 40-yard field goal a few minutes before hitting the game winner after Holl had called two timeouts in an effort to ice him. Meyer also had a punt partially blocked and sent two kickoffs out of bounds.

“I was so nervous, but we believe in our teammate. We knew he was going to make it,” Costello said. “It feels amazing.”

Venanzio was 24-for-32 for 237 yards and two touchdowns, although he was sacked nine times. Gateway found success with bubble and tunnel screens in the second half, and Price was able to dance through the Wood defense, coming back against the grain for the tying score with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Price said of the touchdown. “It was just something we found that was working. I was surprised. Every time, I was open.”

Linemen Jacques Taylor and Kelvon Nelson left the game with injuries — both are captains.

Gateway already was playing the game without star running back/safety Derrick Davis, who was hurt in the second half of last week’s WPIAL championship game win over Peters Township.

Gateway looked poised to go up two scores when Jordan Stancovich recovered a fumbled Wood exchange at the Viking 31. However, a pair of sacks forced the Gators to punt, and, while Jayson Jenkins’ kick was downed at the 5, Costello broke right through a gaping hole in the middle and darted 95 yards to make it 14-14.

The Gators scored touchdowns on each of their two previous drives, the first on a Faumuina-Brown over-the-shoulder 15-yard catch and then taking the lead on Jay Johnson’s 2-yard plunge after Venanzio hit Price for 29 yards.

Wood took a 21-14 lead with 36 seconds left in the half when Jamel Pigford hauled in Max Keller’s 22-yard pass over a Gateway defender to cap a 54-yard drive.

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