No. 2 North Catholic too much for Deer Lakes

Friday, October 15, 2021 | 10:31 PM

Deer Lakes showed no signs of backing down from North Catholic, but the Class 3A No. 2 Trojans’ quality eventually shone through.

Jack Fennell and Kyle Tipinski had a rushing and a receiving touchdown each for North Catholic, which scored twice in the final three minutes of the first half to pull away for a 35-0 win in an Allegheny Seven Conference game Friday night at the Mars Athletic Complex.

The Trojans (8-0, 4-0) posted their sixth shutout in eight games, but it was no cakewalk, as the Lancers (3-5, 3-2) forced three turnovers and kept the score to just 7-0 late into the second quarter.

North Catholic added a 44-yard score by Fennell on a jet sweep with 2:52 left until halftime, and after forcing a three-and-out, Tyler Maziarz pulled in a 53-yard reception, and Fennell again found the end zone on an 18-yard pass from Joey Prentice just 70 seconds after his last touchdown.

“I think the key word there is patience, and a lot of people in today’s world don’t have patience,” North Catholic coach Pat O’Shea said. “It’s sometimes hard to tell the kids, but that’s a really important part of football, offensively especially. We need to see what they’re running, what adjustments we need to make, and I think we were able to sense that once we got going, the big plays were going to come.”

Prentice showed that patience by checking things down when needed for the Trojans, as he went 10 for 10 for 188 yards before halftime, finishing the game with just one more completion and 201 passing yards to go with two touchdowns.

In the second half, the Trojans leaned on their rushing attack and bruising back Tipinski, who finished with 134 yards on 11 carries and also had four receptions for 80 yards.

“I’ve said it over and over, let’s play hard for four quarters and see where things shake out,” Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk said. “We did that tonight, but unfortunately, I don’t have the horses in the barn that (North Catholic does). It’s tough, but my kids fought, and that’s all I’ve ever asked of them. We tried to make them have some long drives and tried to pin them deep.”

That strategy of playing field position almost paid off for the Lancers to start the third quarter, as Deer Lakes recovered a fumbled exchange on the North Catholic 20. The Lancers only gained 2 yards on their next three plays, however, and a 34-yard field-goal attempt was blocked and returned 62 yards by Mitch Lanthaler to give North Catholic a 27-0 lead.

“You want your team to get better and better each week, and I think, defensively, that’s what we’ve done,” O’Shea said. “The defense has just improved across the board. … Even down there, when (Deer Lakes) got field position because of a turnover, they don’t ever feel sorry for themselves or get upset they were put in a bad spot. They rallied, and they blocked a field goal and scored.”

In total, the Trojans defense held Deer Lakes to 89 yards of offense and five first downs, an exceptional performance despite not recording a takeaway.

Deer Lakes quarterback Derek Burk finished 8-for-18 passing for 71 yards, and running back Cody Scarantine was held to 30 yards on 15 carries.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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