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Kennedy leads Jeannette in dominating win to Capture PIAA 1A title over Homer-Center

Written by: on Thursday, December 7th, 2017. Follow Phil Myers on Twitter.


The 2017 PIAA Class 1A State Champion Jeannette Jayhawks

Robert Kennedy had himself quite a game in leading his Jeannette Jayhawks to a 42-12 victory over the Wildcats of Homer-Center.  Kennedy was a jack of all trades offensively.  He rushed for 114 yards on 18 carries and scored twice, passed for 143 yards by going 5 of 9 and two TDs, caught a pass for 46 yards, and returned a couple of kicks for 10 yards.  This was the second state championship by Jeannette as they won back in 2007. “If he’s not the single A player of the year I don’t know who is, offense, defense, special teams he does it all” said Jeannette Head Coach Roy Hall of Kennedy’s efforts.

Jeannette started off slow, only scoring 3 points in their first two drives, but then coach Roy Hall moved Kennedy to quarterback most of the time which turned the Jayhawks into a runaway train that Homer-Center had no answer for.  Jeannette proceeded to reach the end zone on six of their next eight possessions.

Tre Cunningham’s 24 yard field goal started the scoring with 8:44 left in the opening quarter.  The Wildcats answered back with a 93 yard drive that ended with Jesse Lee scurrying around the end for a seven yard TD.  The 2-point conversion was no good and with still 3:19 remaining in the first the ‘Cats led 6-3.

Jeannette opened the second quarter by driving 82 yards in four plays.  With Kennedy at QB, he ran for 9, 7, and after Imani Sanders gained 10, he raced 56 yards to put his team in the lead for good at 9-6.


Later, a short punt and a 5 yard return by Kennedy gave the Jayhawks the ball at the H-C 41.  From there the ‘Hawks went the distance in 5 plays, scoring when Kennedy hit Zack Berginc with a 25 yard pass on fourth down.  This gave Jeannette a 15-3 advantage halfway through quarter two.

A big factor that aided Jeannette was an adjustment on defense that limited Homer-Center to 84 yards for the balance of the game after they had 78 yards on their initial drive of the game when they took the early 6-3 lead.  The Jayhawks overcame a size deficit by filling the gaps and using their speed.

Kennedy scored again before the half on an exciting one yard run where he had been trapped behind the line, but somehow managed to escape into the end zone.  On the subsequent 2-point conversion, QB Seth Howard handed the ball off to Kennedy who then found a wide open Cunningham in the end zone.  That put Jeannette up 23-6 entering the intermission.

Homer-Center’s title hopes were pretty much on the line to begin the second half as they needed to put together a scoring drive and keep the ball out of the Jayhawks’ hands.  But, Marcus Barnes picked off a Ben Schmidt pass on the second play which led to Cunningham’s fourth down snare of a Kennedy pass for a 29 yard TD.  This increased the Jayhawk lead to 29-6 at the 7:53 mark of the third quarter.  For all intents and purposes the game was over at this point.


Jeannette tacked on another touchdown two and a half minutes later on a Seth Howard 9 yard run to go up 35-6.  Then early in the fourth stanza, the ‘Hawks forged to a 42-6 lead when Sanders scored on an 8 yard scamper to enact the Mercy Rule of a continuous running clock.  The Wildcats’ Lee rounded out the scoring with 6:52 left in the game when he ran the rock across the goal line.

An interesting side note is the fact that Homer-Center and Jeannette are only 35 miles apart, but have never played each other until now according to sources.  The Jayhawks finished with 448 yards of offense and held the Wildcats to only 162.  Mike ‘Bassa’ McCracken led H-C with 58 yards rushing on 14 carries.  Jeannette finished their championship season with a record of 15-1, while Homer-Center finished 13-2.



Marcus Barnes:

Its a feeling that’s indescribable.

In the second quarter we werent playing disciplined Jeannette ball and coach Hall let us know.

Coach Hall

I honestly didn’t think it would be too easy but we thought if we could get Kennedy loose we believed we had a chance to make the noise.

Thats what we were afraid of. Them coming out and pounding so that’s why we wanted the ball first. We usually defer to the second half but we wanted to try to score first. We wanted them to try to play catch up so we could get after them.

I had to do a little “grass Chewing” in the second quarter. We weren’t playing the way we should have been

Robert Kennedy

I want to give a shout out to the line, they blocked great today

There was 2 or 3 penalties that cost us. We been punched in the mouth the entire playoffs and we just wanted to come out strong.

They were definitely biting a lot when me and Seth would scramble. They allowed our receivers to get open.


Greg Page

Their team speed was too much. They made all the plays, they deserve all the credit.

They played very good defense, they brought the pressure when they needed it.

Hat’s off to our kids too, when you can win 24 games, knock off a giant in Bishop Guilfoyle, we just weren’t able to get it done today

We had times we got stops, but its a four quarter game and we just weren’t able to keep up with them

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