Govern sparks comeback as Southmoreland beats South Park to finish 2nd in Interstate

Friday, October 29, 2021 | 11:15 PM

Going into the fourth quarter, Southmoreland was watching its playoff hopes slip away as the Scotties trailed South Park, 14-7.

“We didn’t want this season to end,” Scotties quarterback Anthony Govern said. “We’ve been having way too much fun.”

The fourth quarter was all Southmoreland, which scored 21 unanswered points in ending South Park’s season 28-14 on Friday in the Class 3A Interstate Conference.

Thanks to a Mount Pleasant loss to South Allegheny, the Scotties (7-3, 4-2) finish second in the conference and will host a first-round WPIAL playoff game.

Govern was instrumental in the Southmoreland comeback, throwing a 31-yard touchdown to John Bass to tie it at 14 and rushing for scores of 10 and 3 yards to put the game away.

The Scotties will make their second playoff appearance in the last three years, which was part of the plan for coach Dave Keefer and his staff.

“One of our goals when this staff took over was to end the 40-year drought, and we achieved that,” Keefer said. “We expect to go to the playoffs year-in and year-out. Now, let’s go win one.”

On the other side, it was heartbreak for a young South Park (2-7, 2-4) team, which led the game and played well, but mistakes and penalties caught up with the Eagles.

“We played well for our seniors. Collectively, that’s the best game we’ve put together all year,” Eagles coach Marty Reick said. “Obviously, you want to come out with a win, but I appreciate the way the team played on both sides of the ball.”

Both teams came out firing offensively. Southmoreland scored on the opening possession. A 10-play, 66-yard drive was capped by an Isaac Trout 4-yard run, and the Scotties led 7-0.

South Park answered on their its first possession. Jack Sudduth made a diving catch near the pylon for a 10-yard touchdown from Harper Conroy, and the score was tied after the first quarter.

But both defenses locked it up during the second quarter, and neither team scored. Govern blamed himself for the team’s offensive struggles.

“That first half was on me. I wasn’t controlling the ball well,” Govern said. “I had some bad passes and dropped some snaps.”

The score remained even until deep into the third quarter. A backward pass by Govern was off the mark and mishandled by the Southmoreland receiver. The Eagles’ Adam Johnson swooped in, and he scooped and scored from 42 yards out, giving South Park a 14-7 advantage.

The Scotties went three-and-out on their next possession. However, the Scotties defense forced a fumble and recovered. It was the spark they needed.

“That fourth quarter, I didn’t want the season to end. It’s my senior year, It was not ending like that,” Govern said.

John Bass hauled in a wide receiver screen from Govern, did a side step and was off to the races for a 31-yard touchdown. The extra point by Jake Kaylor tied the score at 14.

A three-and-out gave the football bact to the Scotties. On second and 23, Govern hit Trevell Clayton for 15 yards and then JJ Bloom for 15 yards on third down.

Govern then gained 21 on a keeper to the South Park 10 and ran it in on the next play, giving Southmoreland the lead, 21-14, with five minutes to go.

The Scotties forced another punt, and McGovern went back to work. It took just five plays to go 52 yards, and Govern put the game away with a 3-yard run.

Govern is hoping Southmoreland’s second postseason trip is better than the first, as they lost to Avonworth in the first round, 41-0.

“We can make a run. We kill ourselves a lot with dumb penalties, turnovers and dropped passes. Little things that you can fix. This was a huge year, but we’re not done,” Govern said.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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