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Bethlehem Catholic survives shootout

Written by: on Saturday, November 25th, 2017. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


SHAMOKIN – The margin for error can be so very thin in the postseason in any sport. Football is no different and in a game where there were five combined missed PATs or two-point conversions and any one being made could have affected the game’s trajectory at any time, Friday’s Class 4A state quarterfinal between Bethlehem Catholic and Selinsgrove came down to a two-point conversion with :11 left in the game.

Selinsgrove quarterback Logan Leiby’s pass was batted away at the last second and after BECCA recovered the ensuing onside kick, the Hawks held on for a 33-32 win over the Seals. The win advanced BECCA to the state semifinals next week, where the Hawks will get a rematch with Imhotep Charter, which it lost to in the semifinals last year.

“We dug deep, we knew what we had to do and we got it done,” said BECCA coach Joe Henrich. “There just wasn’t something there tonight as far as our edge. It was just a different feel but they found a way to battle back and never hung their heads.”

The outcome was very much in doubt up until the Hawks recovered the onside kick in the final :10. That was because both teams answered the other’s scores for much of the night. Although both defenses had success earlier in the game in stopping the other team’s strength, the fourth quarter featured both teams doing what they do best – BECCA running the ball and Selinsgrove passing, specifically the Leiby-Jarrett Inch connection. Leiby threw for 321 yards to go over 9,800 career passing yards in his final game, while Inch hauled in eight catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

“Their quarterback put it on the money every time – that was where we had problems,” said Henrich. “That kid is a heck of a player and we knew that coming in but I think he was better than I even thought he was. Some of the balls he put on people were dead perfect, in stride, over the shoulder, and that’s hard to defend.”

BECCA played a press coverage for much of the game, taking away short and underneath routes from the Seals and had success doing so, except for when the Seals burned them with long passes.

“We tried to do some things to confuse Leiby but he did a good job of adjusting,” said Henrich.

Leiby, who ends his standout career as District 4’s all-time leading passer in both yards and touchdowns, hit Inch for a 54-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to put the Seals up 7-6 after Selinsgrove had blocked BECCA’s PAT after its first touchdown.

BECCA went up 12-7 on a 13-yard run by Javon Clements early in the second quarter but failed on the two-point conversion. The Seals would take the lead with 5:46 left in the second on the second Leiby-Inch touchdown connection, this one on a nice pump-and-go route in which Leiby faked a wide receiver screen pass and got the BECA secondary to bite, then found Inch in stride down the left sideline for a 66-yard touchdown.

“Their cornerbacks did a nice job when they were playing press-man and they were tough. They got their hands on our guys and were able to run with them but our kids adjusted and made a few plays, hit a few home run balls and really settled in as the game went on,” said Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks.

The Hawks were the recipient of the game’s only turnover late in the first half when Nicholas Lucien picked off Leiby at the BECCA 3-yard line, killing a Seals’ drive that was on the doorstep of scoring again, a play that given the game’s final result ended up being a big one.

Selinsgrove’s defense, which had given up just 10 points in its first three playoff games, held BECCA, which entered the game with over 3,000 rushing yards on the season, to just 140 rushing yards in the first half. The Seals took the lead into the fourth quarter as their defense continued its strong play and held the Hawks to just 47 rushing yards in the third quarter and made four tackles for loss in the third while forcing punts on all three of BECA’s third quarter possessions.

Selinsgrove scored just before the end of the third with :33 remaining when Inch hauled in his third of four touchdown catches on the night, this one a 35-yard reception, which came after Leiby made a nice fake handoff on play action. The PAT was wide left, however, giving the Seals just as seven-point lead instead of eight after they had taken a 13-12 lead into halftime.

That would later prove to be costly, as on the ensuing BECCA drive, the Hawks began to assert their size advantage on the line and put together what would be the first of three straight scoring drives. This one lasted eight plays and went 70 yards and was capped by Tavion Banks’ 31-yard touchdown run, his second of the night, that tied the game following a successful PAT. Banks led the Hawks with 174 rushing yards on just 10 carries, and he also had a 42-yard touchdown run in the first half, which opened the scoring. Overall, Banks finished with 229 all purpose yards.

Seven of the eight plays on that drive were runs, and the Hawks would not throw the ball for the remainder of the contest, as they would rack up 197 rushing yards in the fourth quarter alone, more than doubling their rushing total from the first three quarters.

“We knew coming in that they were huge across the front and our quickness paid off early on, when we’re were cutting through and making plays,” said Hicks. “As the second half went on, their size wore us down. The big guys just kept leaning on our guys and we rotated when we could but they wore us down, so credit to them for being able to capitalize at that point. Their offensive line just took over and they made some nice plays.”

“I think it was just a mentality. We just said we were going to run it right at them and we’re just going to keep going and keep going,” said Henrich. “Games just go that way sometimes but it just kicked in and we made it count.”

Following a three-and-out by the Seals, the Hawks got the ball back at their own 28 and this time went 72 yards in eight plays, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Matt Bisko to go up 26-19 with 5:45 remaining, and setting the stage for a frantic finish.

Selinsgrove got good starting field position after a 27-yard kickoff return on its next possession and began on its own 43. Just four player, including a pair of Leiby completions for first downs, Joe Kahn got loose up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown run, which tied the game again, 26-26 with 4:17 left.

BECCA started its next drive at its own 39 and this time needed just seven plays and just over two minutes to retake the lead on Bisko’s second touchdown of the night, this one from three yards out. It came on his 26th and final carry of the night, which he finished with 145 yards.

With one change left, the Seals went to work beginning from their own 27 and managed to get to the BECA 30 with about :15 left. Following them taking their final timeout of the game before a third-and-16, Leiby found Inch in the back left corner of the end zone, as Inch hauled in Leiby’s pass in double coverage for his fourth touchdown of the game to pull the Seals with a point.

That looked like it was going to be incomplete and our guys were in perfect coverage – it was just a perfect pass and that happens sometimes, but fortunately we came out on the right side,” said Henrich.

That came after the two-point conversion fell just short, as Leiby’s pass intended for Ricky Cope was low and batted away at the last second. With the success that BECCA’s offense was having with its running game and pushing the Seals back in the fourth quarter, Hicks had already made the decision to go for two long before Selinsgrove scored to pull within one.

“I knew if we were able to score, that we were going for two because we were wearing down. They had some one-way guys and were a bit fresher and we didn’t want to look at overtime with them,” said Hicks.

Bethlehem Catholic 33, Selinsgrove 32
Bethlehem Catholic (12-2) 6 6 0 21 – 33
Selinsgrove (11-3) 7 6 6 13 – 32

First quarter
3:32 – (B) Tavion Banks 42-yard run (kick blocked), 1-42, :11
:15 – (S) Jarrett Inch 54-yard pass from Logan Leiby (Tyler Klose kick), 7-84, 3:06

Second quarter
10:21 – (B) Javon Clements 13-yard run (run failed), 8-75, 1:54
5:46 – (S) Jarrett Inch 66-yard pass from Logan Leiby (kick blocked), 1-66, :11

Third quarter
:33 – (S) Jarrett Inch 35-yard pass from Logan Leiby (kick failed), 5-79, 2:05

Fourth quarter
9:39 – (B) Tavion Banks 31-yard run (Anthony DaSilva kick), 8-70, 2:54
5:45 – (B) Matt Bisko 1-yard run (DaSilva kick), 8-72, 2:08
4:17 – (S) Joe Kahn 22-yard run (Kyle Ruhl kick), 4-57, 1:28
2:10 – (B) Matt Bisko 3-yard run (DaSilva kick), 7-61, 2:07
:11 – (S) Jarrett Inch 30-yard pass from Logan Leiby (pass failed), 9-73, 1:59

First downs 26 17
Rushes-net yards 56-384 32-123
Passing yardage 38 321
Passing 6-12-0-0 13-23-4-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-67 9-54

RUSHING: Bethlehem Catholic: Matt Bisko (26-145-2), Tavion Banks (10-174-2), Javon Clements (10-8-1), Zahir Seabrooks (9-58), TEAM (1-(-1)); Selinsgrove: Logan Leiby (19-61), Joe Kahn (13-62-1)
PASSING: Bethlehem Catholic: Javon Clements (6-12-38-0-0); Selinsgrove: Logan Leiby (13-23-321-4-1)
RECEIVING: Bethlehem Catholic: Tavion Banks (5-35), Christan Drayton III (1-3); Selinsgrove: Jarrett Inch (8-243-4), Ricky Cope (3-55), Joe Kahn (2-23)

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One Response to “Bethlehem Catholic survives shootout”

  1. SEAL FAN says: