Jeannette football remains undefeated; shooting mars night

Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 12:06 AM

Top-ranked Class A Jeannette stayed unbeaten Friday night, but the result paled when the game with Imani Christian Academy was halted in the fourth quarter after shots were fired outside McKee Stadium.

“It happened outside the stadium,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said, “but it’s still a black eye on Jeannette and the Jeannette program. From what I hear, the two gentlemen it happened with, they had bad blood with each other. It had nothing to do with the game.”

Imani Sanders scored three touchdowns for Jeannette (3-0, 2-0 Eastern Conference).

The game was called with 3 minutes, 41 seconds left, shortly after Jeannette scored its final touchdown.

When play was stopped, both coaches — Hall and Ronnell Heard of Imani Christian — rounded up their players and immediately headed to their locker rooms.

“We had to just hold them here,” Hall said. “When we were assured the perpetrator was in custody, we let them know that and they kind of calmed down.”

Jeannette senior Zach Crutchman was relieved to know there were no injuries to those inside the stadium.

“The way this ended you have to worry about everybody else and not how the game turned out,” said Crutchman, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound offensive lineman. “It’s just a game. The first thing I did was call my parents and made sure they were all right.”

Jeannette dominated Imani Christian (0-3, 0-2) from the start.

“I thought the defense played pretty well tonight,” Hall said. “Any time you shut out a team, you’ve got to give your defense some credit.”

The Jayhawks offense did its part. Brett Birch’s second touchdown on a 26-yard run gave the Jayhawks a 36-0 lead and triggered a running clock.

Sanders made it 42-0 on a 7-yard touchdown run with 4:26 left in the third, and freshman Noah Sanders, one of three Sanders brothers in the game, added a 7-yard TD run to give Jeannette a 48-0 lead.

It was just moments after that play an announcement was made over the public-address system that the game was stopped.

“When you have the unknown, you’re nervous,” Hall said. “I can understand how they would worry about their families, not knowing exactly where they were.”

Hall said he hadn’t had a chance immediately after the game to speak to Heard or anyone else associated with Imani Christian.

“Obviously, we both were taking care of our business,” Hall said.

Jeannette edged Imani Christian, 35-34, in the 2017 WPIAL Class A championship game at Robert Morris before going on to win its second PIAA title. The Jayhawks prevailed over the Saints in 2018, 28-12, at McKee Stadium.

Friday night’s game originally was scheduled for Graham Field in Wilkinsburg but was moved to McKee Stadium because of renovations.

Imani Sanders opened the scoring for Jeannette on a 15-yard touchdown run 4 minutes into the game. The Jayhawks made it 9-0 on a safety later in the first quarter.

His 4-yard run midway through the second quarter gave Jeannette a 16-0 advantage before Kaelan Piscar caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from James Sanders — the other Sanders brother, who also followed with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Birch, giving Jeannette a 30-0 halftime lead.

Imani Sanders led Jeannette with 85 yards rushing. James Sanders completed 7 of 14 passes, including two for touchdowns, for 81 yards.

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