N. Catholic fends off Freeport

Trojans clinch conference title

October 23, 2021 Cranberry Local Sports

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North Catholic quarterback Joey Prentice looks for open space on a quarterback run against Freeport Friday.

BUFFALO TWP — Joey Prentice completed just five passes in Friday's Allegheny Seven Conference showdown with Freeport.

The first three proved lethal to the host Yellowjackets.

North Catholic's senior quarterback threw touchdown passes to Jack Fennell, Tyler Maziarz and Kyle Tipinski — all in the first nine minutes of the game — as the Trojans locked up the conference championship with a 33-7 victory at Freeport Area Stadium.

The first scoring strike came on North's third play from scrimmage when Prentice found Fennell facing single coverage on a post route and the sophomore turned it into a 68-yard touchdown.

Likewise, Maziarz beat man coverage for a 38-yard score on North's next possession. The extra point attempt after both touchdowns was no good, but the Trojans had taken a 12-0 lead just over seven minutes into the game.

“We felt like we had a good game plan for the defense they were playing,” said North coach Patrick O'Shea. “It was a big boost for us to start the game, but sometimes, it goes to your head. The game really settled down.”

The Trojans hit a lull after Tipinski's 20-yard touchdown reception. In fact, the Trojans gained just 10 combined yards in their final four drives of the first half.

“We just dug too big of a hole,” said Freeport coach John Gaillot, “but our kids fought and I'm proud of them.”

Freeport (3-1, 4-4) grabbed some much-needed momentum when Jacksen Reiser intercepted Prentice in North territory early in the second quarter. The Yellowjackets immediately cashed in, with quarterback Ben Lane racing 44 yards for a score. Vinnie Clark's point after cut Freeport's deficit to 20-7, which was the score at halftime.

The Trojans had rushed for just 16 yards in the first half, but remained exclusively on the ground on the opening drive of the third quarter.

They moved 75 yards in eight plays, with Tipinski's 37-yard jaunt the catalyst. He scored on a 9-yard run for a 26-7 lead.

“Coach got on us at halftime and told us we needed to step up,” said Tipinski. “I gained a lot of confidence on that drive.”

Tipinski, who had just 20 yards on seven carries in the first two quarters, finished the game with 103 yards on 20 attempts.

“We always seem to have a good halftime, talking about what we need to do better and do more of,” said O'Shea.

Lane was intercepted three times in the game, the final one turned into a pick-6 by North's Robbie Kress in the fourth quarter.

North can cap an undefeated regular season with a victory over Derry next Friday.

Freeport, its hopes of a conference title dashed, will look to re-establish momentum before the playoffs when the 'Jackets visit Deer Lakes.

“It's a must-win,” said Gaillot. “They're all must-wins, but we really need that one next week.”

North Catholic 20 0 6 7 — 33

Freeport 0 7 0 0 — 7

First Quarter

NC — Jack Fennell 68 pass from Joey Prentice (kick blocked), 7:12 NC — Tyler Maziarz 38 pass from Prentice (kick failed), 4:57

NC — Kyle Tipinski 20 pass from Prentice (Daniel Long run), 3:00

Second Quarter

F — Ben Lane 44 run (Vinnie Clark kick), 10:30

Third Quarter

NC — Tipinski 9 run (kick failed), 7:59

Fourth Quarter

NC — Robbie Kress 25 interception return (Ethan Marsico kick), 6:13

Individual Statistics

Rushing: North Catholic, Kyle Tipinski 20-103, Liam Straub 1-(-5), Joey Prentice 15-36, Daniel Long 1-(-2), Jack Fennell 4-5, TEAM 3-(-5). Freeport, Zach Clark 3-9, Ben Lane 10-72, Brady Stivenson 2-(-6), Shane Jack 4-1, Gavin Croney 1-(-13), TEAM 1-(-2).

Passing: North Catholic, Joey Prentice 5-10-131-1. Freeport, Ben Lane 5-18-56-3.

Receiving: North Catholic, Jack Fennell 2-71, Tyler Maziarz 1-38, Kyle Tipinski 1-20, Daniel Long 1-2. Freeport, Brady Stivenson 2-14, Garrett King 1-10, Zach Clark 1-18, Vinnie Clark 1-14.

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography