Greensburg Central Catholic runs away from Mt. Pleasant

Friday, August 26, 2022 | 11:25 PM

A late-August dogfight became a rout in a hurry. Did lightning provide Greensburg Central Catholic a spark?

Da’sjon Craggette rushed for 114 yards and scored two touchdowns during a crucial second-half rally, Tyree Turner passed for 109 yards and two scores and Greensburg Central Catholic tallied 28 third-quarter points after a lengthy weather delay to run away from host Mt. Pleasant, 56-35, on Friday night in a season-opening WPIAL football game.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s 28 unanswered points broke a 28-28 tie.

“We just kept pushing and pushing. They were scoring and we were scoring,” said GCC running back Jaydin Canady, who gained 77 yards rushing and scored twice. “It was a physical, nice game. After we finally stopped them, I just told everyone to lock in. The game’s not over. It’s 0-0. Our athletes made plays and we scored.”

The teams were on the field for the start of the second half, but lightning in the direction of the mountain ridges to the east caused the officiating crew to send both teams to their locker rooms.

Neither coach felt the delay had much affect on the outcome. So, what happened?

“I don’t know,” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said. “What happened?

“They didn’t stop anything we did in the first half. We felt exactly like what we were going to run and wanted to do. Something happened and it broke down and there was a gap in there for a couple of minutes when something happened. We weren’t tackling very well and we were giving up a lot of stuff. It was a snowball effect. Give them credit. No excuses.”

When play resumed, Labuda, who rushed for 154 yards, scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Cole Chatfield to pull Mt. Pleasant into a 21-21 tie.

Craggette’s 6-yard run followed for GCC and Labuda immediately answered with a 93-yard kickoff return.

From there, the Vikings hit a wall as GCC rattled off four consecutive touchdowns to take a commanding 56-28 lead.

Amari Mack caught a 35-yarder and Samir Crosby a 23-yarder from Turner and Craggette raced 13 yards for another score. Crosby relieved at quarterback and found Nate Dlugos on a 32-yard scoring strike for the Centurions, who compete in the Class A Eastern Conference.

Mt. Pleasant, which has continued in the Class 3A Interstate Conference, rounded out the scoring late in the fourth quarter on Garrett Eicher’s 25-yard touchdown run.

Both teams entered halftime with GCC holding a modest 21-14 lead after scoring in the final minute of the second quarter.

They combined for four touchdowns in a span of 5 minutes, 2 seconds early in the second half in a scoring flurry before GCC took control in a matter of minutes.

“It took us a little while to come to grips,” GCC coach Marko Thomas said. “We made some adjustments and were able to get some stops. We had how many kids step up today? It’s amazing. When you have the options we have, it’s pretty nice to have.”

A year after assistant coaches William “BJ” Farrell and Joe Oslosky died within days of each other, GCC opened the season in a tense environment against its former conference rival.

Both teams played in the Class 2A Interstate Conference from 2008-14, GCC reaching a PIAA championship game in 2009, losing to Lancaster Catholic, 21-14.

The Centurions, despite the emotional events of last season, voted to play their first-round WPIAL Class A playoff game, a 28-8 loss to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

“BJ and Joe would have wanted us to play,” Thomas said beforehand. “The kids needed to play. It was tough for all of us. I still tear up when I talk about it.”

Following Farrell’s sudden death on Oct. 31 from a yet-undisclosed reason, Oslosky was killed four days later in a vehicle accident on the way to Farrell’s funeral.

A new year brought new hope. Both teams entered the game coming off 6-5 records in 2021.

Mt. Pleasant (0-1), which notched its first WPIAL playoff victory since 2014, a 34-7 Class 3A first-round decision over Burrell, was looking to erase the memory of its 49-7 quarterfinals loss to Avonworth.

On Friday, GCC opened up a 13-0 lead in the opening minutes, driving downfield and scoring on Canady’s 2-yard run, then followed it up with Nate Dlugos’ 85-yard fumble recovery after Mt. Pleasant had advanced inside the GCC 5.

Mt. Pleasant rallied to take 14-13 lead when Labuda raced 74 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter and Lane Golkosky made his way 17 yards into the end zone early in the second.

It stayed that way until GCC managed to take back the lead with 51 seconds remaining before halftime when Canady scored on a 13-yard run and Turner converted a 2-point conversion pass to Dlugos for a 21-14 advantage for the Centurions.

“Tyree was unbelievable,” Thomas said. “His decision-making was spot-on. All around, offensively, we did pretty well.”

Turner finished the night 10 for 15 for 109 yards and two touchdown passes.

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