ALTOONA – The Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic football team left the field to find its locker room had been burglarized.
Ninth-seeded Bishop McCort almost found a way to steal a win and a berth in the District 6 Class A semifinals, too, but the Crimson Crushers were caught just before they could get away with it.
Being worn down by Bishop Guilfoyle’s running game and Keegan Myrick all night, Bishop McCort managed to get into scoring position in the final 2 minutes, trying to rewrite a storybook ending while flipping a similar script to when the teams faced each other in the regular season two weeks ago. However, Bishop Guilfoyle recovered a fumbled handoff and escaped a chilly Mansion Park with a 14-7 victory.
“It is hard, but we fought until the end,” said a teary-eyed Crimson Crusher senior quarterback Will Miller, who scored on an 86-yard return of the opening kickoff. “We battled every play.”
Unfortunately, one play after Miller’s 18-yard scramble gave Bishop McCort first-and-goal at the Marauders’ 8, Miller and Brendon Bair weren’t able to connect on the handoff. The ball bounced off Bair, and Bishop Guilfoyle’s Adrian Johnson fell on it at the 6 with just 1:45 left.
The Marauders ran out the clock.
“I think the hole would have been there,” Crimson Crushers coach Brian Basile lamented. “We had the cutback.”
Miller ran another kickoff back for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that would have brought the Crimson Crushers to within a point, but the return was negated by an illegal blindside block. Bishop McCort only managed 109 yards in total offense and only ran 33 plays, as Bishop Guilfoyle possessed the ball.
“We’ve overcome adversity all year,” Miller said. “That’s what we tried to do. We just couldn’t get it.”
Bishop McCort ended the season 6-6.
The Crimson Crushers came out on the short end of the first game with Bishop Guilfoyle by a 22-7 count, allowing a touchdown in each of the last three quarters and being victimized by more than 200 yards and three touchdowns rushing by Myrick.
This time, Myrick finished with 192 yards on the ground, running it 41 times.
He scored on a 26-yard scamper in the third quarter and an 11-yard jaunt in the fourth after Bishop McCort took a 7-0 lead into the half.
“It’s a playoff game. It’s not supposed to be easy,” Myrick said.
“They hit the hardest of any team we played. I don’t think they should be (an eighth) seed.”
Bishop Guilfoyle (9-2) will host the winner of Saturday’s Claysburg-Kimmel/Saltsburg game next Friday.
“McCort’s one of the better single-A football teams. We knew we were in for a battle,” Marauders coach Justin Wheeler said.
“What I love about our guys is there’s no quit.”
Miller scored on the very first play, fielding Andrew Abraham’s kickoff on the bounce at his own 14 and finding a lane on the visiting sideline. He was in the clear by midfield with only a blocker in his way.
After that, the Crimson Crushers spent the half dodging bullets. Bishop Guilfoyle ran twice as many plays (30-15) and outgained Bishop McCort 81-52 over the first two quarters. Myrick toted the ball 19 times for 74 yards.
Bishop McCort lost fumbles on consecutive plays inside its own 20 and survived without allowing any points. After Hayden Fox pounced on Miller’s fumble at the Crimson Crushers’ 17, the Marauders lost 2 yards on the next three plays, and Sam Homan’s fourth-down pass to Andrew Yanoshak was short of the sticks.
Bishop Guilfoyle, though, got it right back, this time at the Bishop McCort 11 when Johnson fell on the ball when it was stripped from Amir Ortega-Andrews on a jet sweep.
However, two plays later, the shotgun snap got away from Homan, and Ortega-Andrews fell on it at the Crimson Crushers’ 27 with 2:10 left in the half.
The Marauders made first downs on each of their first three drives, but those possessions ended at the Crimson Crushers’ 46, the Bishop Guilfoyle 47 and the Bishop McCort 37. Will Haslett helped the guests with punts of 44 and 52, the second getting downed at the Marauder 1.
“It was a tremendous effort. Guys just kept fighting and never stopped,” Basile said. “This team grew up tonight. They grew up.”