SIDMAN, Pa. – Damon Crawley rushed for 240 yards and three scores Friday night as Forest Hills pulled away from Bishop McCort for a 41-18 win in the Laurel Highlands opener for both teams.
Easton Toth added 101 yards rushing, Jacob Poldiak threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jeremy Burda and the Rangers defense pitched a shutout after the Crushers got within 19-18 with 3:12 on the clock in the second quarter.
“We wanted to stick with our strength tonight, and our strength, I think, is our running game right now,” Rangers coach Justin Myers said.
“When you’ve got a back like Damon Crawley, plus Easton Toth, and when you’ve got a front five like ours – very experienced from last year – we had to go with our strength in the second half.”
The first half featured a frantic pace, a few turnovers and several big plays from both teams.
The biggest was a 62-yard touchdown scamper by Crawley early in the second quarter after an interception by Burda.
Crawley, a senior added a 3-yard TD run midway through the second and had 123 yards by halftime.
“Great blocking by the offensive line,” Crawley, a 1,000-yard runner in 2020, said of his long run. “I just had one hole and I cut, and I was gone.”
Crawley added another short touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
McCort quarterback Trystan Fornari had moved his team down the field on the first possession of the night before an interception by Colby Rearick at the 5-yard line stopped the drive.
The Rangers went down and scored on a 19-yard pass from Poldiak to Burda.
McCort came back with an 8-yard scoring pass from Fornari to Josh Goins late in the first quarter.
Crawley’s first two scores put Forest Hills up 19-6.
McCort came back with a 5-yard TD run by Fornari and a 14-yard toss from Fornari to wideout Malik Tisinger to get within a point.
The Rangers put together a critical drive in the final minutes of the half, moving 69 yards on 10 plays. Poldiak hit Burda in the back of the end zone as the clock expired and Crawley ran for the two-point conversion to make it 27-18 at halftime.
Neither team scored in the third, but Forest Hills controlled the ball with its ground game – running 17 plays to 11 for McCort. The Rangers had six first downs in the third.
Rangers fullback Colten Danel got into the act with three tough runs late in the third.
“Their running game wore us out,” McCort coach Tom Smith said. “I want to give credit to Coach (Myers) and his kids.
“They played a very tough game tonight.”
Crawley battled cramps in the third – as many players did on both sides – but came on to score his third touchdown early in the fourth.
Toth’s 1-yard run at 2:55 of the 4th closed out the scoring.
“I think we came out in the first half pretty good, but in the second half we were really strong,” Crawley said. “We decided to come out and basically run it down their throat and they couldn’t stop us in the second half.”
“The second half was pretty good for us,” Myers said. “I don’t know the exact time of possession, but it was probably pretty good for us.”
The Rangers visit Laurel Highlands newcomer Central in Week 2.
McCort will play Greater Johnstown on Sept. 3 at St. Francis University.
The Crushers know they can score points out of their new spread offense led by Fornari, who completed 17 of 32 passes Friday for 194 yards and also ran 19 times for 69 yards on the read option.
“We played to the end and we played really hard,” Crushers coach Smith said.
“That was a new offense for us. I think we’re going to put some points on the board and move the football.”
This was the first game since the launch of the McCort co-op with Bishop Carroll.
Johnny Golden, Carroll’s QB in 2020, played flanker for the Crushers but threw a 50-yard pass to Colin Stevens to set up a second-quarter score.
McCort won’t face too many teams that run the ball as well as Forest Hills or too many backs as talented as Crawley.
“They’re going to have success, I think,,” Myers said of McCort. “They have a good nucleus and Tom’s a really good coach. This was a really good win for our program.”
Chip Minemyer is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat and TribDem.com, and CNHI regional editor for Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. He can be reached at 814-532-5091. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.