Late field goal, OT turnover carry Bethel Park to thrilling win over Moon

Friday, September 27, 2019 | 11:21 PM

Homecoming drew a large and boisterous crowd to Bethel Park on Friday night.

Senior kicker John Gummo and safety Will Patrizio sent the fans home happy.

Gummo made a 23-yard field goal to tie the score with eight seconds left in regulation and Patrizio stripped the ball from a Moon ball carrier in overtime, securing a 23-16 victory for Bethel Park.

“Once we got into overtime, we were able to make a couple plays,” Black Hawks coach Brian DeLallo said. “Being able to execute the two-minute drive to tie the game and then a great offensive series and a defensive play in overtime, it was a great way to finish the game.”

The night didn’t start out well for Bethel Park. After Moon fumbled at the 2-yard line, Blackhawks quarterback Anthony Chiccitt was hit in his own end zone and was called for intentional grounding as he tried to pass, and the Tigers led 2-0.

On the ensuing drive, Moon took a 9-0 lead when Jamal Littlejohn scored his first of two touchdowns on a 3-yard run. It wasn’t the start DeLallo expected.

“We haven’t been down that quick like that against 5A competition,” DeLallo said. “In a way, it was kind of interesting to see how we reacted. I think we had a little bit of a hangover from last week’s loss to Central Catholic.”

Bethel Park regrouped before halftime. Sean McGowan capped off a 10-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes, 53 seconds left in the second quarter.

According to DeLallo, that score gave the Blackhawks confidence.

“We got that scoring drive together to make it 9-7 before the half which was big,” DeLlallo said. “Our defensive coaches make some great adjustments at halftime. Also, they lost their quarterback and that was tough on them.”

DeLallo was referring to Moon senior quarterback Dante Clay, who did not take the field in the second half and was replaced by sophomore Tyler McGowan. Clay, who had 370 yards of total offense in a win over Chartiers Valley last week, only gained 32 yards rushing and passed for only 15 yards in the first half.

Bethel Park took its first lead of the game late in the third quarter. McGowan capped off an impressive drive with his second score on a 4-yard run. The Black Hawks drove 78 yards in 15 plays and held the ball for 8:01. Bethel Park got the ball back when Patrizio intercepted Tyler McGowan at the 22-yard line.

Moon regained the lead with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of a Bethel Park turnover. Chiccitt, who at halftime was named homecoming king, fumbled the snap from center and Dalton Dobyns recovered for the Tigers. Two plays later, Littlejohn scored from a yard out and Moon led 16-13.

But, for the second time in the second half, Bethel Park mounted a 15-play scoring drive. Chiccitt hit Jevonn Lewis on an 11-yard pass to convert a third down, and Chiccitt used his legs to convert a fourth-and-6.

“Anthony converted on fourth down with his feet there, and that’s what we expect him to do as a dual threat,” DeLallo said. “The speed option worked well for us, but he uses his arm and legs back there, whatever it takes. He kind of saved our bacon tonight.”

Of course, the drive wasn’t over when the Black Hawks drove to the Moon 6-yard line. After a series of timeouts, Gummo calmly nailed a 23-yard field goal to forge a 16-16 tie with eight seconds left.

When asked if DeLallo had confidence in his senior placekicker, he didn’t hesitate.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I have so much confidence in John. Up to 40 yards, he’s money. That was really a little more than an extra point, so we were really confident there.”

The game headed to overtime, where Moon won the toss and chose to play defense. Two Sean McGowan runs got the ball inside the 1-yard line, and fullback Jack Evans scored from there. Gummo’s point after gave Bethel Park a 23-16 lead.

Moon took over at the 10-yard line with running back Littlejohn in the wildcat. After he gained 3 yards, he took the direct snap on second down and ran left, but it was Patrizio coming up with his second big defensive play of the night, stripping the ball and ending the game.

Moon (4-2, 2-1) had its two-game winning streak snapped, but DeLallo came away impressed with the Tigers.

“They’re a good team. They’re going to beat some people,” he said. “They lost their quarterback, which was tough on them. For most teams, that’s your excuse, but they’re so good up front and physical and they did a good job running the football.”

No. 5 Bethel Park (4-1, 3-0) stayed tied with Peters Township atop the Allegheny Eight. Moon plays host to Peters Township next week while Bethel Park stays home to face Chartiers Valley.

DeLallo was happy that the Black Hawks got past the midpoint of the season but knows it is not an easy road ahead.

“I’m really happy to be tied for first, because I know how good this conference is and we still have some really good teams left to play,” he said. “Good teams and good coaches and that starts next week for us with Chartiers Valley.”

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