ADAMS TWP — Joey Prentice feared the worst when he came off the field last week against Freeport, clutching his right arm at the wrist.
The junior quarterback on the North Catholic football team peered down at a gruesome sight.
“It was a little scary seeing my thumb sideways,” Prentice said. “I had never dislocated anything.”
Trainers popped the thumb back in place, but Prentice couldn't finish the game against the Yellowjackets.
He finished the game against Mount Pleasant on a frigid Friday night.
With that thumb wrapped in a brace, Prentice threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 81 yards as the Trojans rolled to a 35-14 win in the first round of the WPIAL 3A playoffs at the Mars Athletic Complex.
After a couple shaky throws early, Prentice finally got used to throwing with the wrap around his injured thumb.
“It worked pretty well,” Prentice said. “I just had to get used (to the brace). If I started using it on Monday, it would have been easier.”
But Prentice wasn't cleared to even throw until an MRI Wednesday revealed no serious damage to the joint.
Prentice showed he still could put zip on his passes with a 37-yard touchdown strike to Nick Maher to open the scoring in the first quarter. Maher went up to get the perfect pass in the end zone.
“That's Nick Maher,” Prentice said. “What are you going to do? There's no one who is stopping him.”
It seems there's no one who can stop North Catholic these days.
After Mount Pleasant (4-4) tied the game at 7-7 on a 19-yard run by Robbie Labuda, the Trojans (8-0) took the lead for good as Prentice hit Maher on a quick screen and the senior wide receiver did the rest, weaving through traffic, breaking a tackle and scoring from 35 yards out.
Kyle Tipinski's 26-yard touchdown run with a little less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter staked North Catholic to a 21-7 lead at the half.
The Trojans' defense continued to get the job done. The unit gave up some yards to Mount Pleasant's duo of Labuda and Aaron Alakson, but only gave up one score until Labuda found the end zone with 15 seconds left in the game for his second TD.
Labuda carried 29 times for 146 yards.
“The defense just doesn't get enough credit,” said North Catholic coach Patrick O'Shea. “They get us the ball back. Early on they had to get used to that power running game. Once they settled in, they realized they just needed to stay true to the fundamentals of defense and they'd be OK. I was just really proud of them.”
North Catholic came out throwing the ball against Mount Pleasant.
In the second half, that paid off as the Trojans spread the field with a trips-set, which opened up huge running lanes for Prentice and Tipinski.
After gaining just 62 yards in the first two quarters on the ground, North Catholic rushed for 166 yards on 14 carries in the second half.
Prentice had 83 yards after halftime and Tipinski 61.
Tipinski finished with 100 yards on 13 attempts.
“We knew with their size ... we were going to have to throw the ball early to open up some run lanes,” O'Shea said.
Jack Fennell scored from the 9 to make it 28-7 in the third quarter and Tipinski scored his second TD of the game, bursting up the middle for a 22-yard score to make it 35-7 in the fourth.
North Catholic will take on Elizabeth Forward at the MAC in the WPIAL semifinals.
The Trojans played the Warriors last season and won a slobberknocker, 12-7.
“We've been in a conference with them (before),” O'Shea said. “They are extremely well-coached and fundamental. So, I think it should be another classic football game between Elizabeth Forward and North Catholic.”
Mt. Pleasant 7 0 0 7 — 14
North Catholic 7 14 7 7 — 35
NC — Nick Maher 37 pass from Joey Prentice (Ethan Marsico kick), 8:26
MP — Robbie Labuda 19 run (Labuda kick), 5:20
NC — Maher 35 pass from Prentice (Marsico kick), 11:50
NC — Kyle Tipinski 26 run (Marsico kick), 4:50
NC — Jack Fennell 9 run (Marsico kick), 2:36
NC — Tipinski 22 run (Marsico kick), 4:33
MP — Labuda 8 run (Labuda kick), :15
Rushing:Mount Pleasant, Robbie Labuda 29-146, Aaron Alakson 13-80, Asher O'Connor 6-(-14). North Catholic, Kyle Tipinski 13-100, Joey Prentice 10-81, Liam Straub 5-35, Jack Fennell 2-9, Mathias Benson 1-2.
Passing:Mount Pleasant, Asher O'Connor 6-18-77-1. North Catholic, Joey Prentice 11-18-155-1
Receiving:Mount Pleasant, Tyler Reese 2-31, Donavin Blair 1-20, Jared Yester 1-15, Aaron Alakson 1-8, Robbie Labuda 1-3. North Catholic, Nick Maher 5-102, Liam Straub 3-35, Kyle Tipinski 1-9, Isaiah Jackson 1-9, Tyler Maziarz 1-0