Senior quarterback leads Jeannette to feel-good win over Riverview

Friday, September 17, 2021 | 10:35 PM

Moral victories mean very little to the Jeannette football program.

But in this out-of-the-norm season for a program that has fallen on hard times, the little things matter.

A first down here. A pass completion there. A touchdown is like finding gold.

Things that used to be so natural and easily obtained — perhaps even taken for granted — are huge to the depleted Jayhawks.

So imagine what they were experiencing Friday night when they won their first game of the season, 28-6, over visiting Riverview at McKee Stadium.

“Any time you can win after starting out being 0-3, it feels good,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “We gotta build off of this and learn.”

Senior Tyler Horn threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and took an interception back 56 yards for another score as the Jayhawks moved to 1-3 and 1-0 in the WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference.

They had not started 0-3 since 1993 and had been outscored 177-0 in three weeks.

“Feels amazing. We came out and proved everyone wrong,” said Horn, who made his first start at quarterback. “I played the best game I ever played in my life. I felt like I had chip on my shoulder. Everyone was doubting us, saying we were going to lose, even people in our community.”

Horn ran for 106 yards on 15 carries and completed 5 of 10 passes for 82 yards.

The Raiders fell to 0-3, 0-1.

Coming into the night, Jeannette had only crossed midfield once and had recorded just two first downs. The team had four first downs on its first possession and built a 13-0 lead by halftime.

After a field-goal attempt went awry on their opening drive, the Jayhawks had a touchdown called back by penalty as the first quarter ended 0-0.

But Horn rolled right and delivered a strike to senior newcomer Ziere Petty for an 18-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 7:20 to play in the second quarter. Petty joined the team about two weeks ago.

“We developed a little bit of chemistry,” Horn said. “It helped that he was open. You have to have trust in everyone on the team, whether you know him well or not.”

Later in the quarter, Horn hooked up with sophomore Andrew Ross on a slant for a 13-yard touchdown. A penalty forced a long extra point for Tre Steele, and the kick came up short.

“The inside man went out, the backer went with him, he was wide open in the middle and I just hit him,” Horn said.

While Jeannette’s defense kept forcing punts, Horn added a touchdown run in the third, faking a handoff and sprinting left into open space for a 40-yard run. Payton Molter’s 2-point run made it 21-0.

Jeannette could feel that winning feeling starting to brew.

“We have 28 guys, and none of them are returning starters,” Hall said. “You would never know this week we were 0-3 and hadn’t scored a touchdown. They came and practiced this week and were all in sync. We always say you play like you practice. We had a good week of practice.”

Last week, Riverview senior running back Dean Cecere carried 27 times for 213 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-12 loss to Carlynton.

He finally broke one Friday on a fourth-and-11 from midfield, racing 50 yards for a score to cut the lead to 21-6 early in the fourth.

Cecere finished with 91 yards on 15 carries.

“Jeannette earned it tonight,” Riverview coach Trevor George said. “They played their hearts out. I feel bad for Roy. I saw what transfers can do to a team. That happened to my dad at Ambridge. I am happy for Jeannette. I hope this sparks something for them.”

Jeannette wasn’t done. Riverview was trying for a final spark and attempted a reverse pass. But Horn stepped in front for an interception and raced 56 yards for the score to increase the advantage to 28-6.

“I just happened to be in the right spot,” Horn said.

Lonnie Green recovered a fumble for the Jayhawks with 7:27 left.

Riverview managed just 32 yards passing.

“We have to get better in every aspect,” George said. “It’s going to take some time.”

Michael Mason had three catches for 51 yards, and Michael Pitzer ran for 41 yards for the Jayhawks.

While a season unlike any that came before it forged ahead, there was some familiar nostalgia in the air as Jeannette honored its 2021 Jayhawk Athletic Hall of Fame class before the game.

The class, selected by the the Jeannette Educational Foundation in conjunction with the school district, consists of Maurice Chamberlain (Class of 1984), Ed Kryzak (‘72), Jennilee Morrison (2005), Jermaine Morgan (‘90), Kayla Cook (‘10), Larry Hall (‘04), Maria DeNunzio (‘00), Marcus Clarkson (‘92), coach Robert Murphy, the 1983 WPIAL football championship team and the 1932 and ‘39 football teams in the legends category.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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