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Wash High Outlasts Brentwood in Thriller 20-14

Written by: on Saturday, November 16th, 2019

 

Going into Friday night’s WPIAL 2A semifinal matchup, both defenses for Brentwood and Washington would come into the game red hot. The Prexies, who faced another tough defense in the Freedom Bulldogs a week ago, shut out their opponent 28-0. The Brentwood Spartans did something probably more impressive, in playing the underdog as the 6 seed and shutting out 4 seeds Neshannock 35-0. For outside viewers, the matchup between the Spartans and the Little Prexies looked like it would be a close, defensive battle. That estimation would not be incorrect.
The first quarter, the Prexies dominated. Primarily because of one, long, 7 minute drive that included two 4th down conversions (a QB sneak by Zach Swartz and a pass to Caleb Jackson) and would end in a short run by Swartz into the endzone. The Prexies would miss the extra point.

A quick three and out for the Prexies kept the momentum in Wash High’s hands. This drive would be the polar opposite for the Prexies, as a screen pass to Tayshawn Levy set up another Swartz score to put Washington up 14-0 before the clock hit zero in the 1st.

Early in the 4th quarter, both teams would trade multiple 3 and outs and punts, making the game a battle of attrition for both teams. After an amazing punt by Zack Swartz that pinned the Spartans at their own two, the Prexies defense would come up big, picking off John Milcic. Mincic- who had been very good throughout the regular season, was a special focus for Isaiah Edwards and the Prexies defense, “We just tried to limit him during plays. Limit his big play ability and that’s what we did.” Edwards said. With the interception, it seemed like the Prexies were once again in control. However, the Prexies were unable to capitalize with the short field, ending the half at 14-0.

In the final game of the regular season, Washington matched up with the McGuffey Highlanders. Early in that game, the Prexies were in control, however the Highlanders came storming back in the third quarter, scoring 2 quick TDs to tie it up before the Prexies eventually pulled away. Despite this game under the Prexies belt, the Spartans came out the gate hot in the second half. Aided by a facemask and roughing the passer penalties, the Spartans drove down the field before Eddie Gomez eventually put Brentwood in for 7 to come within a score. “We tried to do too much.” Zack Swartz said following the game, “We let some things get out of hand, flags, false starts, things like that. I had confidence we win that game. We had total control at the beginning.”

The Brentwood offense wouldn’t be the only thing for the Spartans hot after halftime, a quick three and out gave Brentwood the ball on their own 24, and on the following play, Aidan Wardzinski would take a screen to the Wash High 3. A quick score would follow and the game were once again tied.14-14

Throughout the game until this point, the game had been for the most part clean. Besides the Robinson interception, there had been no turnovers and few penalties. The good feelings would not last for either team. On the ensuing Prexies drive, Wash High would fumble and give the Spartans excellent field position. The Prexies D would step up big however, stopping the Spartans on 4 downs in the redzone. “I told my guys “bend but don’t break”,’ Defensive captian Edwards said, “I told them we’ve been in this situation before, just play football, just be a family, and let’s win. And that’s what we did. We came out and hit and never quit.”

Both teams defenses were firing on all cylinders to start the 4th quarter, however that would imply that both offenses were not. Both teams would exchange interceptions on back to back plays. Both teams would go to run heavy offenses late, and as the clock began to drain, the Spartans ended up on the wrong side of the ball with 5 minutes remaining. Content to drive down the field slowly, the Prexies ran 11 straight plays on the ground, before converting a pass to Caleb Jackson on 4th down before a Zahmere Robinson TD to make the score 20-14 with barely a minute on the board.

Once again, the Prexies would have to rely on thier defense, and once again they stepped up big. Following a key 1st down pass over the middle, CB Caleb Jackson would pick of Milcic, ending the Spartans season. For Jackson, it’s been a long time coming, “I’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year. Gone through a lot of hard work.” “He’s a great football player,” Swartz said on Jackson, “He did a lot of great things this game, he helped us turn the momentum around in this one.

Takeaways: Washington has played bend but don’t break football the whole year over. Whether it be McGuffey tying it up in the 3rd, or even letting California hang around them and have a shot, or even struggling in the 1st quarter against Brownsville, the Prexies have always come out on top. This game was their biggest scare of the year, against a team with a good defense but a sub-par offense. The Prexies will face a tougher opponent next weekend in Avonworth with arguably a much tougher defense. If the Prexies want to advance they’ll have to lean more into their original gameplan. In the early second half, Washington started throwing the ball and scrambling more, playing right into the Spartans strength. This was certainly not a perfect game for either team, but the Prexies should have maintained the same control they had in the 1st quarter for the entire game. The Prexies also had 18 penalties for 125 yards, and against an equal or better team, that will kill your chance of winning.

What’s Next: The Prexies survive, but the Avonworth Antelopes did that and then some, beating Riverside 41-14. Both teams will meet in the WPIAL 2A Championship, with the winner headed to the PIAA semis.

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