Leechburg comes up just short in quest for 1st win over Clairton

Friday, September 23, 2022 | 10:35 PM

In a backfield of mostly underclassmen, Clairton looked to the only senior for big-play leadership.

Bears quarterback Capone Jones ran for 161 yards and passed for 106 yards as Clairton (2-3, 2-0), No. 3 in this week’s TribHSSN rankings, held off No. 4 Leechburg, 20-13, in a key Eastern Conference matchup.

The Blue Devils, seeking their first victory over Clairton to go with a 1991 tie in 29 encounters, hung in there until the final minute of the game.

Leechburg scored on an 18-yard run by Braylan Lovelace with 50 seconds left to cut the Bears lead to seven. But Keith Wright recovered a well-placed Leechburg onside kick to seal the victory.

“We could run the ball all day,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “Our line was stellar tonight. We were able to run the ball inside pretty much with our quarterback and tailbacks and our jets on the outside.”

Clairton could have won by a larger margin, but Leechburg stopped the Bears three times inside its 15, including a play at the 1 as the half ended.

“I think we took major steps tonight,” Leechburg coach Randy Walters said. “There were times in the past we would have rolled over, but we were there till the end.”

Leechburg is 1-1 in the conference, 3-2 overall.

Clairton opened the scoring on its first possession. The Bears took over on downs at the Leechburg 47 and needed nine plays and 5 ½ minutes to tally.

Jones scored on a quarterback draw on fourth down from 9 yards and hit Donte Wright for the conversion pass.

On Clairton’s next possession, a swing pass to Donte Wright was blown up by Lovelace. Jayden Floyd picked up the loose ball and raced 18 yards for a touchdown.

The Bears answered quickly, however, as Jones got open up the middle for a 73-yard run to the Blue Devils 5. Donte Wright scored two plays later, bouncing off a jam at the line of scrimmage and rolling right.

Wright picked off a tipped Floyd pass with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the half at the Clairton 33. Five plays later, a 50-yard pass to the Leechburg 1 to freshman Michael Ruffing took place with 6 seconds to go in the second quarter. But Owen Nutting stopped Jones at the 1 to as time ran out.

Clairton drove to the Blue Devils 14, but a bad snap to Jones resulted in an 18-yard loss, virtually ending the threat.

On a fourth-and-goal later in the third, Brandin Gilmer’s stop on Wright at the 2 kept the score at 14-7.

A 62-yard Lovelace punt to the Clairton 7 was thought to have pinned down the Bears, but a 93-yard, six-play drive, with Jones carrying 41 yards to midfield, set up a 3-yard pass to Devon Dean to make it 20-7 Clairton with 8:31 to go.

Donte Wright finished with 110 rushing yards on 11 carries.

Lovelace was bottled up much of the night and managed 42 yards on 10 tries.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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