Jeannette brings coach birthday rout

Friday, September 25, 2020 | 11:36 PM

For the 10th time in Roy Hall’s 12 seasons as Jeannette’s football coach, the Jayhawks managed to provide their leader with a victory during his birthday week.

And what a rousing display it was.

A day after celebrating his big day, Hall came away with another victory Friday as No. 3 Jeannette routed Imani Christian Academy, 45-0, in a WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference game at Jeannette’s McKee Stadium, extending the Saints’ losing streak to 14 dating to the 2018 WPIAL semifinals.

“I didn’t even realize they had put a big sign up over there,” said Hall, pointing across the field where the sign read, “Happy Birthday, Coach Hall.”

Freshman Brad Birch threw for 111 yards and a touchdown, and Roberto Smith Jr. scored three times and gained 94 yards rushing to lead Jeannette (2-1, 2-1), which won its second game in a row after a season-opening loss to top-ranked Clairton.

Birch ran his season totals to 551 yards passing and eight touchdown throws, while Smith, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior, showed his versatility, blocking a punt and intercepting a pass to go with touchdown runs of 50, 2 and 1 yards.

Smith Jr. also passed for one touchdown while Birch was out of the lineup and booted an extra point in relief when the Jeannette kicking game broke down.

“He does a lot for us,” Hall said. “He’s learning to be a team player. I know we can always count on him.”

Imani Christian, three years removed from a 35-34 loss to Jeannette in the 2017 WPIAL Class A championship game, came in with 16 healthy players. By game’s end, several more had been sidelined with injuries.

Jeannette built a 39-0 advantage by halftime despite failing to convert on nearly every point-after attempt. The situation was so lopsided against Imani Christian (0-3, 0-3) that if not for penalty calls against Jeannette, nullifying three interception returns for touchdowns, the final score would have been much higher.

“I was really happy with the way our defense played,” Hall said. “We really bottled them up all night.”

Jeannette held Imani Christian to 64 total yards.

“I feel like we’re coming together as a team and starting to play for each other more,” Smith Jr. said.

Kaelan Piscar scored two first-half touchdowns for Jeannette, the first on a 10-yard return of a blocked punt by Smith Jr. and the second a 38-yard pass from Birch.

Jaydin Canady’s 1-yard interception return also occurred before halftime, with Louis Callaway’s fourth-quarter, 8-yard pass from Smith Jr. accounting for the only second-half touchdown.

Birch completed 9 of 17 attempts with one interception to go with his touchdown toss to Piscar near the end of the first half that lifted the margin past the 35-point threshhold that ignites a running clock.

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