QB Jay Pearson keeps his word, helps OLSH torch Laurel

Friday, September 27, 2019 | 11:57 PM

Prior to Friday’s game with Laurel, Jay Pearson told OLSH coach Dan Bradley that he was going to score on the first play.

“I’m a man of my word,” Pearson said.

Sure enough, Pearson took the first snap from scrimmage, rolled to his right and took off down sideline and ran 63 yards for a touchdown

It was an appetizer for what the standout dual-threat sophomore quarterback had in store.

Pearson accounted for two rushing scores, three touchdown passes and more than 300 total yards of offense to help OLSH spoil Class A No. 4 Laurel’s homecoming game with a 41-33 victory in the Big Seven Conference.

Pearson threw for 130 yards and rushed for 180 on 16 carries.

“He’s a natural athlete,” Bradley said. “He’s getting better at quarterback and what it takes to be a good leader. He’s getting better every week.”

OLSH had to hold off a late rally from the Spartans, who scored two touchdowns on passes from Will Shaffer to Dylan Aquaro in the final four minutes. Eric Olexa recovered an onside kick attempt by Laurel in the final 40 seconds to preserve the win.

Prior to the late push, Pearson’s athletic ability was on full display. Along with his 63-yard touchdown run to open the game, he had a 76-yard score on the ground in the second quarter.

“To me, every time I get the ball and I’m running, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I’m scoring a touchdown,” Pearson said. “There’s no way I’m going down unless the entire team is on me.”

He threw touchdown passes in each of the first three quarters. He connected with Bobby Brazil for a 41-yard score in the first and later executed a strong two-minute drill, capping it off with a 4-yard TD strike to Olexa that gave OLSH a 28-19 lead at halftime.

Laurel (4-2, 2-1) fumbled after a miscommunication on a pitch play on the first play of the second half and OLSH (5-1, 4-1) made them pay four plays later when Stephen Green broke free for a 26-yard touchdown.

Pearson found Olexa again with a 21-yard strike for a score late in the third that pushed the lead to 41-19.

After posting shutouts in the first four games, Laurel surrendered more than 30 for the second consecutive week after a 33-7 loss to Clairton last Friday.

“We have to do a better job of not letting big plays happen,” Laurel coach Brian Cooper said. “It’s the whole way around. We have to do a better job coaching them up and getting ready to go. We have to keep getting better every week. No excuses.”

The game was marred by a litany of penalties. OLSH was flagged 24 times for more than 150 yards and Laurel was penalized a dozen times.

“We’ll take the win, but I wasn’t happy with the lack of discipline and penalties,” Bradley said. “There was some stuff between the whistles both ways, but we were fortunate enough and good enough to hold on.”

Laurel had a couple of chances to cut into the lead in the third after intercepting Pearson on back-to-back possessions but came up empty. The Spartans got the ball near midfield after the first interception, but went three-and-out and punted. The second interception set them up at the OLSH 30, but they were unable to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs.

Dom Wade had a strong game for the Spartans, scoring three rushing touchdowns in the first half. Wade rushed for 122 yards on 24 carries.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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