Matt Sieg accounts for 7 TDs, Fort Cherry makes statement with wild win over Bishop Canevin

Saturday, September 30, 2023 | 11:20 PM

Behind a spectacular performance from sophomore quarterback Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry stated its case as a legit contender for a WPIAL Class A title with a 48-41 victory over Bishop Canevin at Dormont Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

Sieg accounted for seven touchdowns and 437 yards of total offense. He ran 24 times for 277 yards and four touchdowns, including runs of 55 and 72 yards, and threw for 160 yards and three more scores.

“It wasn’t me. It was that line,” Sieg said. “That’s a big team, and it shows the work we put in the offseason. All the lifting, the long hours and the summer conditioning lead up to this.”

The win was monumental for the Rangers — and their fans, who filled the stands with red.

“Did you see our stands tonight?” Sieg said. “The whole community came out. There’s so much hype around our school and we will build on that from here.”

Lineman Lou Ryan, a captain and a leader in the trenches, was proud of what the Rangers accomplished.

“This means a lot to us and a lot of public schools who think they are a big and unbeatable team. They’re not,” Ryan said. “We came out here and smacked them in the mouth. Anyone can do it. Just go out and play tough. A lot of us are crying. It feels good.”

Ryan was amazed by a performance from Sieg that will go down in Fort Cherry history.

“Matt is just too fast,” Ryan said. “He’s got too good of ball-carrying vision. He runs and sees all the holes. Boom, he’s gone.”

Sieg wasn’t the only player putting up eye-popping numbers Saturday night. Bishop Canevin had big performances from multiple players as well.

Quarterback Kole Olszewski was 25 for 38 for 414 yards and five touchdowns.

His favorite target was former Crusaders quarterback Jason Cross, a West Virginia recruit, who caught 10 passes for 228 yards and three scores. Jayden Lindsey caught eight passes for 109 yards and a touchdown as well.

“We knew going into this, this team really gave us a thump last year,” Fort Cherry coach Tanner Garry said. “We didn’t play our best football. We were young last year, but we had another year under our belt of just maturing and growing, and they’ve been waiting for this one for a while. They were happy for the opportunity.”

The Rangers got up to an early 21-0 advantage and led the rest of the way.

Shane Cornali opened up the Fort Cherry campaign with a return to his own 44, and the Rangers pounded the football early and often. On their first drive, Sieg found paydirt on a 3-yard run. After the Nick Massey PAT, the Rangers had a 7-0 lead after a 56-yard drive that took up five minutes.

Fort Cherry didn’t want to play defense just yet after snagging an early lead. The Rangers caught the Crusaders off guard and Cornali booted and recovered an onside kick.

The Rangers found themselves in Canevin territory after a Sieg 44-yard run. Sieg connected with Evan Rogers on a 3-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 14-0.

In the beginning of the second quarter, the Rangers forced a fourth-and-9 and Nashaun Sutton picked off Olszewski in the end zone and took it out to the 5.

The Crusaders stood their ground on third down to make it fourth-and-2. This led to a fake punt, which was snapped to Sieg as he ran it toward the sideline for the fourth-down conversion.

Shortly thereafter, Sieg broke a 55-yard run to complete a 95-yard drive, making it 21-0.

The Rangers then recovered another onside kick, but Bishop Canevin forced Fort Cherry to punt for the first time.

The Crusaders mustered their first points on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Olszewski to Daiveon Taylor. The Rangers blocked the point after, making the score 21-6 going into halftime.

Fort Cherry dominated time of possession, holding onto the football for over 22 minutes in the first half.

Canevin found itself right back in it opening the third quarter, however, after a drive that was capped off with an 8-yard touchdown run by Marquis Carter. The snap was botched on the 2-point conversion, and Fort Cherry led 21-12.

Fort Cherry then extended its lead to 27-12 on a wild play. Sieg rolled right and threw downfield to Ethan Faletto on a go route. The ball was tipped and deflected over the head of a Rangers receiver and Crusaders corner. Faletto caught the ball on the ricochet and took it to the house for a 68-yard touchdown pass.

The Rangers then turned the Crusaders over on downs in their own territory and capitalized. On third down, Cornali ran a streak past a Crusader defender, and Sieg dropped a pass into his arms for six on a 33-yard touchdown.

Bishop Canevin responded quickly when Olszewski found Cross for a 52-yard touchdown. He also connected with him on a slant for the 2-point conversion, making it 34-20 Fort Cherry.

Canevin then forced a three-and-out and made it a one-possession game. Olszewski threw one to the end zone to Cross for a 32-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Leo Shorthouse knocked through the PAT, making it 34-27.

The Rangers needed a score to open up some breathing room and got it. Fort Cherry set up shop in Crusader territory after a 46-yard reception on a slant to Braydon Cook.

The Crusaders forced a fourth down, but Cook drew a pass interference penalty. Two plays later, Sieg punched in a 13-yard touchdown run, making it 41-27.

Bishop Canevin had yet another quick drive. After a series of completions, Olszewski notched another touchdown pass to Cross, a 22-yarder, trimming the lead, 41-34.

But Sieg continued to put on a show. He took one to the house on a 72-yard touchdown run to make it 48-34.

After a personal foul on Fort Cherry on Canevin’s next drive, the Crusaders were inside the Rangers 20-yard line. Olszewski threw a dart to Lindsey for an 18-yard touchdown to make it 48-41.

The Crusaders then punched the ball loose on a Faletto run, taking the ball at the 50-yard line.

The Rangers made a defensive stand in the red zone.

After back-to-back sacks from Nate Harrison and Anthony Salvini, the Rangers ran out the clock, earning a monumental win.

“Matt comes into these games and knows that teams will try to slow him down,” Garry said. “You ask Matt and he will say the same thing, but the work that we did up front was the difference in the game. Matt made plays time and time again. He’ll be the first to tell you though, the way our big boys played up front, we’re very proud of them.”

Garry added that the two onside kicks were meant to be squib kicks, but taking advantage and scoring after their first recovery was a key moment in the game.

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