McDowell capitalizes on 3rd-quarter miscues, tops Allderdice in PIAA 1st round

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Friday, November 19, 2021 | 11:15 PM


Going into halftime, Allderdice held a narrow lead and was dreaming of the possibility of upsetting the District 10 champion McDowell.

The Trojans immediately put those Dragons dreams to sleep.

McDowell (9-2) imposed its will on three straight drives to start the second half, building a three-score lead over Allderdice (4-6) on the way to a 27-13 victory in a PIAA Class 6A first-round matchup at George Cupples Stadium on the South Side on Friday night.

“We made a couple of adjustments at half and decided to pound the ball,” McDowell coach Bo Orlando said. “We came into the game prepared for another defense. Our guys did a great job up front. They were plus-one in the box all night. We still went at them.”

With a 7-3 advantage at halftime, Allderdice had an opportunity to build on the lead to start the second half. However, McDowell recovered a Dragons fumble on the kickoff return to set up deep in Allderdice territory.

On the following play, McDowell junior running back Artis Simmons found a hole on the right side and ran it in for a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Trojans a 10-7 edge early in the third.

On the ensuing drive, Allderdice tried to go for it on a fourth-and-short in McDowell territory but junior quarterback Jaerone Parker couldn’t reach the sticks for a new set of downs. The Trojans took over at their own 40-yard line and Simmons immediately made Allderdice pay.

Simmons broke Dragon tackles and weaved through Allderdice defenders as he ran it in for a 60-yard touchdown to extend the McDowell lead to 17-7 with 8:40 remaining in the third quarter.

“That fumble right there killed us,” Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett said. “They scored twice in a minute and the fumble killed us. We played hard and tough. That’s a good football team. But there were too many stupid errors in the beginning of the second half.”

Simmons finished with 221 yards rushing on 28 carries and the pair of third-quarter touchdowns for the Trojans.

After another stalled Allderdice drive, the Trojans methodically worked the ball down the field as they capped off their third drive of the second half with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ben Moore to Mathew McGregor with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

McDowell will move on to the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals against the winner of Saturday’s WPIAL championship game between Central Catholic and Mt. Lebanon next week at a site and time to be determined. Last year, the Trojans reached the state semifinals before losing to Central York.

“We had momentum in the second half,” Orlando said. “We did what we needed to do in the second half. But if we want to win next week, we will need to play four quarters of football and play better than we did tonight.”

With 5:07 remaining in the game, Allderdice got on the board when sophomore quarterback Azerick Jetter connected with junior wide receiver Cornell Weems for a 30-yard touchdown pass to narrow the deficit to two scores.

In the first half, McDowell was provided multiple opportunities to score with short fields but the Allderdice defense stood up to the challenge to keep the game close.

The Trojans were given the ball at the Allderdice 10-yard line after a botched punt but were held to a 21-yard field goal by Alex Sontheimer in the first minute of the second quarter to open up the scoring in the game.

Sontheimer hit a 44-yard field goal in the second half.

A couple of drives later, Allderdice took a late first-half lead when senior Noah Johnston scored from 10 yards out. The drive, which took over three minutes, was extended when the Dragons converted on a fake punt that gave them a new set of downs in Trojan territory.

The Dragons finished with 219 yards of total offense with 122 yards coming on ground. Johnston led all Dragon rushers with 47 yards on nine carries.

This was the third playoff matchup since 2013 between Allderdice and McDowell, with all three going McDowell’s way. Allderdice qualified for the first-round matchup after defeating Westinghouse, 14-0, in the City League championship Oct. 30.

“We had a game plan and we stuck to it,” Haslett said. “It kind of worked the whole first half. In the first five minutes of the second half, it didn’t, but we came back and played some football again after they scored those three times. I’m proud of my kids because they played hard.”

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