QB Matt Sieg comes up big in 4th quarter as Fort Cherry beats Bishop Canevin

Friday, November 17, 2023 | 10:34 PM

Matt Sieg stood on the field after the game with friends, family and Fort Cherry fans asking him to take a picture with them.

Everyone wanted a snapshot to remember what the Rangers and Sieg accomplished Friday night.

Sieg rushed for five touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter, and No. 2 Fort Cherry advanced to the WPIAL football finals for the first time since 2001 in a 33-21 victory over No. 3 Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL Class A semifinals at South Fayette Stadium.

“I can’t describe this … really I can’t,” Sieg said. “We had a police escort on the way here, and people were lining the streets. It made us tear up on the bus. Just to do this for the community … it’s special. And we’re not done.”

The Rangers will try for their first WPIAL championship when they play No. 1 South Side in the Class A final at 11 a.m. Friday at Acrisure Stadium. Bishop Canevin, which was trying for its third consecutive trip to the WPIAL finals, finished 10-2.

Fort Cherry won 48-41 over the Crusaders in a Black Hills Conference game in the regular season.

The rematch was a different kind of game, but equally thrilling.

Fort Cherry trailed by a touchdown entering the fourth quarter, but Sieg took command as heavy wind and rain blew in.

He hit Braydon Cook on a 32-yard pass and then scored on a 12-yard run two plays later to cut Fort Cherry’s deficit to 21-20. After Bishop Canevin was flagged for offsides on the extra-point attempt, Fort Cherry decided to go for two, but Sieg was stuffed.

The Rangers forced a three-and-out on Bishop Canevin’s next possession.

They took over at their own 43 as the heavy rain and gusting wind came at their backs. Sieg didn’t flinch and connected with Evan Rogers on a 32-yard pass. On the next play, Sieg ran around the left side and into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown to put the Rangers ahead 26-21.

On the next play from scrimmage, Bishop Canevin quarterback Kole Olszewski was sacked and fumbled and Fort Cherry recovered. Sieg scored on a 15-yard run on the next play and extended the lead to 33-21.

Sieg, a sophomore, finished with 157 yards rushing, 123 in the second half, and had 112 yards passing.

“He really battled back in such a big way tonight,” Fort Cherry coach Tanner Garry said. “In the early going, he was frustrated, but he always finds a way to pull it out when we need him. He’s someone that is going to have a great career. It’s not a secret anymore. We’re just glad we can say that we have him for two more years.”

Like Sieg, Garry was emotional after the game.

“Just growing up here and remembering the teams that went to Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field and being a part of that … and then just seeing the community come together is special,” Garry said. “Our bus ride over here, the streets were lined side to side with people cheering. It’s hard to put into words what our community is doing and what this team has done to pull everyone together.”

Corey Bouchelle intercepted Olszewski at the Fort Cherry 24 with just over a minute remaining to seal it.

Bishop Canevin led 14-7 at halftime thanks to a 42-yard strike from Olszewski to Jason Cross on the final play of the first half.

After a three-and-out by Bishop Canevin, Fort Cherry drove right down the field and Sieg finished off the drive with a 1-yard run to tie it.

The Crusaders responded quickly as Olszewski hit a wide-open Jayden Lindsey for a 40-yard TD on the next drive to make it 21-14.

Next week, Fort Cherry will look to make history, enjoying the ride along the way.

“It’s so special,” Sieg said. “I’m just trying to take in as much as I can. I want to remember this game for the rest of my life.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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