Pennsylvania avenges loss, defeats Maryland in Big 33 game

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Monday, May 27, 2019 | 6:03 PM


HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania defeated Maryland, 21-0, in the Big 33 Football Classic on Monday afternoon at Landis Field, avenging a 9-6 loss last season.

The third Pennsylvania touchdown was scored by Aliquippa wide receiver William Gipson. Midway through the third period, Gipson caught a high floater thrown by Harrisburg quarterback Kane Everson and came down with it at the 2-yard line. Despite having a defender alongside him, Gipson felt he had plenty of space to come down with the ball.

“Honestly, I felt like I was alone, that no one could jump with me,” the 6-foot-3 Pitt recruit said.

A couple of plays later, Gipson pulled in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kane to put the Keystone State up 21-0 with 2 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

After scoring, Gipson ran the length of the field to give the ball to a young boy who was watching the game from the opposite end zone. Or, maybe, the boy was just tolerating being at the game.

“The kid looked like he wasn’t having a good time,” Gipson said. “I thought giving him the ball would make his day. He looked a little hot, and I thought it would brighten his day.”

Gipson added one more catch in the fourth quarter to finish with three receptions for 53 yards.

No other WPIAL player accumulated any offensive yards. However, three offensive linemen saw extensive time. North Hills’ Lirion Murtezi was on the field for nearly every offensive snap. Thomas Jefferson’s Dominic Serapiglia and Latrobe’s Trent Holler were on the line for more than half the plays.

Though the game had its tense moments, with some post-whistle penalties and shoving, the game was often light-hearted, as well. For example, Murtezi and Holler were dancing right behind the Big 33 Pennsylvania cheerleaders during their routine after Gipson’s touchdown.

But Murtezi, Serapiglia and Holler also were working hard, including contributing to the team’s second touchdown drive. The drive included a fourth-and-1 conversion via an inside run and ended with Yusef Terry’s 15-yard touchdown run on a double-reverse.

Terry also scored Pennsylvania’s first touchdown on a 31-yard catch from Kane Everson.

Pennsylvania kept Maryland out of the end zone for the second straight season.

Thomas Wyatt, a linebacker from McKeesport, made a couple of tackles while contributing to the shutout.

“It means a lot,” Wyatt said of keeping Maryland scoreless. “I worked really hard for it. I want to thank God, my coaches and my family for preparing me for this.”

The aforementioned intense moments helped Wyatt and the defense stay focused on not just the win but the shutout.

“It definitely helped us pick up the tempo,” said Wyatt, a Citadel recruit.

Jake Stebbins of Seneca Valley also made a tackle.

Aliquippa’s M.J. Devonshire played most of the defensive snaps and was back on punt returns. He deflected one pass and kept tight coverage on two others without permitting a reception. Devonshire also had a punt return for 32 yards.

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