Imani Sanders, Jeannette run over GCC
Friday, October 11, 2019 | 11:30 PM
Imani Sanders had one of those games players dreams of.
Jeannette’s senior running back scored five touchdowns and rushed for 217 yards to lead the No. 1 Jayhawks to a 48-14 victory in WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference clash Friday at Centurion Stadium.
The victory clinches a playoff spot for the Jayhawks (8-0, 4-0). Greensburg Central Catholic (6-2, 4-2) finishes the regular season with two nonconference games — at Cornell next week and home against Southmoreland on Oct. 25. The Centurions are in the race for one of two wild-card berths.
Jeannette still has two important conference games to play. It hosts Riverview next week, then travels to Clairton.
Jeannette showed Greensburg Central Catholic it meant business on its first possession, driving 94 yards in 11 plays to grab a 7-0 lead. The big play was a 37-yard pass from quarterback Jimmy Sanders to Kaelan Piscar. Imani Sanders capped the drive with a 4-yard dash.
“This is the biggest game I’ve had in high school,” Sanders said. “I might have had a bigger one in midgets. My offensive line blocked great and gave me great lanes.”
It was Jimmy Sanders coming up with the next big play for the Jayhawks, tossing a perfect 27-yard scoring strike to Bayley Molter to make it 14-0. It came on a fourth-and-16 in the second quarter.
“When you play Jeannette, you have to stay with them,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Bret Colbert said. “Once they got up, they took the wind out of our sails.
“Sanders is a good running back. He has great feet and a lot of strength.”
Sanders added two more touchdowns in the first half to give Jeannette a 26-0 lead at halftime.
“We always want to come out and make a statement to the WPIAL and everyone in the state,” said Jeannette senior linebacker Justin Cramer, who is closing in on 400 career tackles. “All week we stressed putting pressure on their quarterback, and we did.”
Jeannette rushed for 508 yards and had 650 yards of offense. Jimmy Sanders rushed for 105 yards and completed 10 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two interceptions.
One of his interceptions was returned by Luke Mazowiecki 72 yards for a touchdown to cut the Jeannette lead to 26-7 in the third quarter.
Less than 30 seconds later, Imani Sanders added his fourth score of the game on a 25-yard run.
“Jeannette was physical, and they know how to win,” Colbert said. “You can see it in how they never let up.”
After GCC’s offense got a touchdown, an 11-yard pass to Joe Blahovec from David Altimore, Sanders tallied his fifth score on a 6-yard run.
Roberto Smith Jr. finished the scoring for the Jayhawks by racing 51 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Altimore completed 14 of 25 passes for 115 yards and two interceptions.
“As a coach, you’re happy with the win but not satisfied,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “There are things we need to clean up. We had three turnovers, and that’s probably more than we had all year.
“We played well. We rushed the ball for more than 500 yards. The last time we did that might have been when Terrelle (Pryor) was playing.”
Hall said Imani Sanders put on a show.
“You look at his size and weight (5-foot-6, 170 pounds) and to do something like that, he was pushing the pile a few times,” Hall said. “That’s phenomenal.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .