Jeannette’s Kennedy saves day versus East Allegheny

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Friday, August 25, 2017 | 11:09 PM


The big-time players showed up in back-and-forth battle, but Jeannette's Robert Kennedy came up with the final big play.

Kennedy broke up a two-point conversion pass intended for East Allegheny's T.J. Banks with 37 seconds remaining, and Class A No. 2 Jeannette held on for a 28-26 nonconference road win.

Banks, East Allegheny's Division I prospect, put the Wildcats (0-1) in position to tie the game with a 7-yard touchdown reception from Tamaine Underwood. East Allegheny went for Banks, a tight end, again with a fade pattern to the right corner of the end zone, but this time Underwood's throw was low enough for Kennedy to make a play.

“(Kennedy) is our horse, and we want to ride him,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “It was a great play, and that's a very good team we played out there.”

“You can tell every coach we play, if we need a two-point conversion, you will see the same play. Maybe next time it's a slant, but I promise you, I'm going to go down with No. 5 (Banks),” East Allegheny coach Dom Pecora said. “With what he does on defense and offense, you're not going to find a better high school football player in the state.”

The game had plenty of offense but also its share of first-week miscues.

Kennedy was 10-for-16 passing for 121 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw a pair of interceptions. The speedy senior quarterback ran for 131 yards and a score and intercepted a pass for the Jayhawks (1-0).

Underwood finished 14 of 29 for 231 yards and four touchdowns — two to Banks — but he also threw three interceptions, two to Jeannette's Marcus Barnes.

“We had some mental mistakes, but they're all correctable,” Hall said. “A lot of people don't realize, some of the guys we have in there have never played football. It's their first time playing, but they're going to get better and learn from their mistakes.”

The Jayhawks took a 16-14 lead when Barnes caught a 7-yard touchdown pass just before halftime, but they never extended the lead to more than eight, keeping the Wildcats within one possession.

Senior receiver Tre Cunningham played a big role for the Jayhawks on offense and special teams. His 33-yard field goal opened the scoring. He caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter, he booted punts of 50 and 34 yards, both of which pinned East Allegheny inside their 20.

“We needed a game like this, because sometimes you get teenagers reading the paper, and they're picked to win 30-6 and they tend to relax,” Hall said. “We beat a good ball club that's going to win a lot of games.”

Dan Kasmier took a screen pass 56 yards for an East Allegheny touchdown that made it 22-20, but the Jayhawks defense also came up big on that occasion to keep the Wildcats from tying the game.

Ronnie McGill caught East Allegheny's first scoring pass from 29 yards out, and Zack Berginc had the Jayhawks' first touchdown of the season on a 19-yard grab.

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com

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