GCC uses big plays to upset Clairton, get 1st win over Bears since 2001

Friday, September 30, 2022 | 10:42 PM

No Greensburg Central Catholic team had beaten Clairton since 2001.

This Greensburg Central Catholic team: Hold my Gatorade.

Big-play GCC scored on its first offensive snap to ignite one of its biggest upsets in recent years Friday night, a 34-18 victory over the visiting third-ranked Bears in a game that could go a long way in deciding the Class A Eastern Conference champion.

Quarterback Tyree Turner completed 10 of 14 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns, Da’sjon Craggette scored two times and Jaydin Canady ran for a score, caught an 81-yard touchdown and had one of three interceptions for GCC (4-2, 2-0).

“This is the biggest win of my life,” GCC coach Marko Thomas said. “Our kids believed they could do this, and they went out and executed.”

Clairton, which started 0-3 for the first time in four decades, slid to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in conference.

Bears coach Wayne Wade said he had no comment after the game.

Operating in the run-pass option all night, Turner faked a handoff on the Centurions’ first play and zipped a 59-yard strike to Amari Mack.

Turner sold the fake, and GCC was sold on its chances of pulling off the win.

Turner said, “I didn’t expect him to be that wide open. That kind of reassured us we could win.”

Clairton responded momentarily when Capone Jones scored on a 7-yard run, but the kick was no good and it was 7-6.

Jones ran for 65 yards and threw for 42.

“He is a skilled quarterback, and we had to kind of adjust to his speed and get used to their skill guys,” Thomas said.

GCC continued the push-pull opening quarter with another score: Craggette’s 9-yard run and Jake Reitler’s extra point to give GCC a 14-6 lead.

Back came the Bears, who capped a nine-play drive with a 12-yard pass from Jones to Dante Wright. Again, the conversion failed, and GCC held a 14-12 edge.

Before the Bears could reset, GCC was in the end zone again on another big play. Turner rolled out and threw an 81-yard bomb to Canady to up the score to 20-12.

“Tyree did what he does best,” Canady said. “He made that happen, and it gave us momentum with his throws.”

GCC forced a punt midway through the third, then went 79 yards in 10 plays with Canady scoring on a 13-yard run to extend the advantage to 27-12.

“There was a little bit of thunder and lightning with Da’sjon and Jaydin,” Thomas said.

The pair combined for 85 yards, 52 by Craggette.

Clairton cut the deficit to deficit to 27-18 with 25 seconds left in the third. Drahcir Jones ran in from the 4, but the 2-point run was stuffed by the Centurions.

Jones ran for a game-high 71 yards.

The Centurions were forced to punt, but Nate Dlugos pinned the Bears inside the 1.

“Best kick and coverage of the year,” Thomas said. “Nate did a great job.”

The Bears reached the GCC 13, but Jones was intercepted by Canady with about six minutes to play.

GCC put the game away two plays later on a 6-yard score by Craggette to push it to 34-18.

Mack intercepted Jones with 1:23 remaining.

Samir Crosby also had an interception for GCC.

Drahcir Jones picked off a pass in the first half.

GCC, which came in averaging 44.6 points, had lost eight straight to the Bears, including 57-18 in 2020, 40-0 in ‘18, 84-0 in ‘16 and 74-0 in ‘14.

Clairton leads the all-time series, 13-7.

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

Tags: ,

More High School Football

GoFundMe posted for former Norwin football player Josiah Pastories, who was killed in auto accident
WPIAL rules Aliquippa rising junior ineligible following transfer from North Hills
Riverview football standout Carlo Buzzatto excited to compete on global stage
Terrelle Pryor, Dick Hoak, Joe Mucci to enter National High School Football Hall of Fame
Football committee will choose wild card teams under new WPIAL postseason format