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St. Joe’s Prep loses a 21-17 heartbreaker in season opener in Marietta (Ga.) 8-30-19

Written by: on Saturday, August 31st, 2019. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


The one team in Pennsylvania—perhaps the only team in the state—that can beat St. Joseph’s Prep is St. Joseph’s Prep.

The Hawks, ranked No. 11 nationally by numerous national news outlets, appeared primed for a minor upset over the Marietta (Ga.) Blue Devils, when they stung themselves with a costly unsportsmanlike penalty celebrating a go-ahead fourth quarter score, giving Marietta a short field to work with.

That set the stage for Tennessee-bound Marietta senior quarterback Harrison Bailey to direct a five-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in Bailey hitting Ricky White with 14 seconds left for a 23-yard scoring pass and a 21-17 victory over the defending PIAA 6A state champs.

Bailey finished passing for 17-of-34 for 259 yards and two touchdowns. St. Joseph’s Prep junior quarterback Kyle “Captain Cool” McCord, who’s bound for Ohio State, countered by going 20-of-33 passing for 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Junior receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., with his Hall-of-Fame father, Marvin Harrison Sr., watching from the stands caught seven passes for 107 yards, while senior running back Kolbe Burrell ran for 98 yards on 22 carries.

Entering the game, which was televised nationally on ESPNU, Marietta was ranked No. 9 by USA Today this week, while St. Joe’s prep was No. 11.

The frustrating piece for the Hawks, who are a cumulative 40-2 with two PIAA 6A state titles in the last three years, is that this was a winnable game.

The Hawks hurt themselves with penalties, especially the unsportsmanlike after the go-ahead TD that came late. The Hawks hurt themselves with an inability to score touchdowns in the red zone, squandering one chance in the first half that resulted in a missed field goal attempt, and another blown chance that did result in a field goal.

There were a number of shining moments, however, for the Hawks to build on.

For one, McCord has only gotten better. He showed great poise as a sophomore, after throwing an interception on the first play of the PIAA 6A state title game against Harrisburg, before rebounding to complete 26 of 37 passes for 284 yards and two TDs in the Hawks’ 40-20 state title victory over Harrisburg.

Trailing 14-10, McCord directed the Hawks on a drive that ended with a 12-yard TD pass to Sahmir Hagans with 1:18 to play.

It’s a strength that will make the Hawks competitive until the very end in every game they play this season.

There were dropped passes and missed tackles that also occurred for the Hawks in August that are certainly correctable.

The Hawks had the ball twice at the Marietta five-yard line and only came up with three points. A missed 29-yard field goal in the first quarter and they had to settle for an Antonio Chadha 22-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the third quarter, squandering the brilliant play by senior defensive tackle Anthony Leneghan, who intercepted a pass and returned it to the Blue Devils’ five with 2:36 to play in the quarter.


St. Joseph’s Prep-0-7-3-7-17


2nd Quarter 

SJP: Malik Cooper 29 pass from Kyle McCord (Antonio Chadha kick) 5:10

M: Kimani Vidal 1 run (Cooper Kipp kick) 1:10

3rd Quarter

M: Arik Gilbert 39 pass from Harrison Bailey (Kipp kick) 9:03

SJP: Chadha 22 field goal 1:50

4th Quarter

SJP: Sahmir Hagans 12 pass from McCord (Chadha kick) 1:18

M: Ricky White 23 pass from Bailey (Kipp kick) :14

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