Jeannette blanks Springdale in battle of unbeatens

Friday, September 20, 2019 | 10:56 PM

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

Jeannette showed its strength on both sides of the ball, defeating previously unbeaten Springdale, 43-0, on the road in a Class A Eastern Conference football game Friday.

The top-ranked Jayhawks outgained Springdale, 402-36, in total yards. It was the third straight shutout victory for Jeannette, which scored six touchdowns from six different players.

“We like to spread the ball around,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “When you have a lot of guys to spread the wealth around, it makes it tough on the defense.”

After a three-and-out to start the game, Jeannette drove down the field and scored on a 21-yard pass from Jimmy Sanders to Brett Birch. Sanders lofted the ball to the back of the end zone, where Birch leaped into the air and snatched the ball out of the Springdale defender’s hands.

After a short punt led to great field position for Jeannette (5-0, 3-0) to start the second quarter, running back Imani Sanders burst loose for a 40-yard gain. Toby Cline took a jet sweep 10 yards on the next play to extend the Jayhawks lead to 13-0.

After another three-and-out, Springdale’s punt was partially blocked, setting up another short field. Imani Sanders scored from 2 yards out on fourth-and-goal to take a 21-0 lead at the half.

Springdale (4-1, 1-1) was held to 8 yards of offense in the first half.

“There were spurts in there where we got some things rolling,” Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski said. “We just need to learn to stay on our tracks, just do our assignments as we’re taught how to do them. We were there to make plays defensively. We just didn’t.”

After the teams traded turnovers to begin the second half, Jeannette kept spreading the wealth around Veterans’ Stadium. Backup quarterback Roberto Smith Jr., hooked up with Jackson Pruitt for a 23-yard scoring strike. Pruitt, who missed time early in the year with a shoulder injury, finished with six receptions for 109 yards.

On Jeannette’s next possession, Jimmy Sanders returned to the quarterback position and threw his second touchdown pass of the day. This one came from 28 yards to Bayley Molter, his fifth touchdown reception of the year.

Sanders finished 8 of 16 passing for 151 yards. His older brother, Imani, rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

The defense for Jeannette was impressive in holding Springdale’s rushing game in check. Christian Vokes came into the game averaging 163 yards. He was held to 22 yards on 10 carries. Springdale’s quarterbacks went 1 for 7 for 1 yard and an interception.

While it’s the first loss of the season for Springdale, each game becomes crucial for the Dynamos’ playoff hopes. Next week’s game against Greensburg Central Catholic could be a pseudo-elimination game at the mid-way point of the season.

“We’ll continue to try to get better, try to fix the mistakes, and we’ll get after GCC next week,” Napierkowski said. “With only two guaranteed spots in each conference, and then the two wild cards, you’ve got to beat Jeannette, GCC or Clairton if you want to get in the playoffs. Step one, we didn’t win. On to step two, we have to win this game.”

For Jeannette, it’s three straight shutout victories by a combined score of 155-0. The Jayhawks have two nonconference games against Brownsville and OLSH before traveling to Greensburg Central Catholic and Clairton in the final three weeks of the year. For Hall, the win is only one piece of the puzzle.

“What I always tell them is that you’re happy with the win, but not satisfied, and you’re always looking for improvement.”

Check out an archived broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

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