McKeesport routs Mars in WPIAL 1st round

Friday, November 4, 2022 | 11:43 PM

A week after suffering its first loss in its regular-season finale against Thomas Jefferson, McKeesport made an emphatic return to the win column in its playoff opener Friday night.

The fifth-seeded Tigers scored on each of their first seven possessions and relied on a four-touchdown game from quarterback Jahmil Perryman in a 43-0 rout of No. 12 Mars in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs.

The win sends McKeesport (10-1) into a quarterfinal clash with fourth-seeded Armstrong next week. The River Hawks were 39-7 winners over Blackhawk on Friday.

“We left some stuff on the table last game and even in previous games, so we wanted to be as efficient as possible,” McKeesport coach Matt Miller said. “We had a good week of practice, and it showed tonight.”

Perryman rushed for three scores and threw for another to help lead a McKeesport team that finished with 436 yards of total offense.

Perryman carried the ball 14 times for 200 yards and touchdown runs of 60, 10 and 54 yards. He also threw for 81 yards, including a 65-yard score to Caiden Holtzman in the second quarter.

“I’m having the time of my life,” Perryman said. “I know I can score, I know Bobbie (Boyd) can score and I know Larry (Gibson) can score, but now it’s time to show everybody. When it happens and we’re able to produce, it’s exciting.”

Mars (6-5) played without starting quarterback Eric Kasperowicz, who was injured late in last week’s win against North Catholic.

Fellow sophomore Luke Goodworth got the start but couldn’t do much against a McKeesport defense that is allowing 6.4 points per game after recording its fifth shutout of the season.

Goodworth completed 10 of 26 passes for 73 yards.

Running back Evan Wright, a 1,300-yard rusher during the regular season, was limited to 4 yards on 11 carries. In total, the Fightin’ Planets had 110 yards on 45 plays. They entered the game averaging 35 points.

“It really starts with our defensive line. They’re able to get pressure on the quarterback and make it hard for them to run the football,” Miller said. “Then, our linebackers get us lined up correctly and are good with the splash plays, and we’re tough in our defensive backfield as well.”

After Mars failed to capitalize by turning the ball over on downs following a 12-play opening drive, McKeesport wasted little time striking first.

The Tigers capped off a six-play drive when DaMier Clark found the edge and hit paydirt on a 9-yard touchdown run.

Perryman scored on McKeesport’s next two possessions, both of which came in the second quarter.

Then, with just under five minutes to go in the first half, Perryman found Holtzman wide open for a touchdown to extend McKeesport’s lead to 27-0.

The Tigers added to their lead with under two minutes to go as Larry Gibson found the end zone on a 49-yard touchdown run. Milton Campos put the mercy rule into effect with a 28-yard field goal in the final seconds before halftime.

Perryman scored the lone touchdown of the second half on his 54-yarder.

“He’s outstanding,” Miller said of Perryman. “He’s really dynamic, and he’s getting really good at reading what we like to do with the triple option. He’s been a great vocal leader for us and does an amazing job of coming out here on Friday nights and putting together solid games.”

Gibson added a 63-yard performance on three carries for the Tigers. Bobbie Boyd finished with eight carries for 62 yards.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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