ADAMS TWP — If there was organized high school sports betting, the total points over would've been the pick of the week in the Keystone Oaks and North Catholic football game Friday night.
Keystone Oaks (6-6) and North Catholic (11-0) combined for 89 points and 564 passing yards as the Trojans defeated the Golden Eagles 48-41 in the WPIAL Class 3A Quarterfinals at the Mars Athletic Complex.
“The guys played awesome,” North Catholic coach Pat O'Shea said. “It was just exciting playoff football.”
Trojans quarterback Joey Prentice threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns while running for 64 yards on seven carries.
Nick Buckley for Keystone Oaks had his hand on every Golden Eagles touchdown as he completed 26 pass attempts for 322 yards and five touchdowns.
“Their quarterback (Buckley) took some shots and just kept getting up,” O'Shea said. “It's awesome to see that in high school football even if it's someone from the other team. Just embracing toughness.”
Coming into Friday's game, the North Catholic defense was allowing on average 5.1 points per game.
“Our defense has been stellar all year,” O'Shea said. “All week we said let's stop the run and we're going to win the game and to their credit they came out throwing the ball a lot more than we thought.”
North Catholic got out to a 14-point lead after the first quarter, but Buckley answered early in the second with his first touchdown pass of the evening to Quinn Kenny.
On the following kickoff, Kyle Tipinski returned the ball 85 yards on a fake reverse to give the Trojans that 14-point lead back.
Solid special teams was the difference in the game, as Jack Fennell would also return a kickoff for a touchdown later in the third.
“Coach Tim Aguglia, our special teams coordinator, does everything and gets the credit,” O'Shea said. “He always has those kids so ready and we weren't surprised by it. We got lots of talent on special teams.”
In the third quarter, both teams traded two touchdowns a side, allowing North Catholic to take a 10-point lead into the fourth period.
Buckley threw his fifth touchdown pass early in the fourth to bring the Golden Eagles within striking distance.
Keystone Oaks went for the onside kick on the following kickoff and managed to recover it, setting up Greg Wagner to tie the game at 41 with just over five minutes to play.
But Prentice, along with the running and receiving help of Tipinski, was able to take the Trojans down the field with ease.
The drive ended with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Prentice to Tipinski to re-take the lead with 2:33 to play.
“If there is anything I want our kids to be is very tough young men,” O'Shea said. “Sometimes you got to be tough to get through the ups and downs. I think the offense led by Joey proved that.”
On the following kickoff, special teams again came through for North Catholic as the Trojans forced a fumble and recovered it deep in Golden Eagle territory.
North Catholic was then able to run out the clock and hold onto a seven-point playoff victory.
The Trojans will look to keep things moving when they face Avonworth (8-2) in the next round of the 3A playoffs.
Keystone Oaks 0 17 14 10 — 41
North Catholic 14 13 14 7 — 48
NC — Tyler Maziarz 11 pass from Joey Prentice (Ethan Marsico kick), 8:48
NC — Jack Fennell 8 run (Marsico kick), 1:15
KO — Quinn Kenny 18 pass from Nick Buckley (Greg Wagner kick), 10:08
NC — Kyle Tipinski 85 kick return (Marsico kick), 9:51
KO — Owen Minford 9 pass from Buckley (Wagner kick), 2:45
NC — Maziarz 32 pass from Prentice (kick failed), :36
KO — Wagner 24 field goal, :00
NC — Daniel Long 17 pass from Prentice (Marsico kick), 9:32
KO — Minford 6 pass from Buckley (Wagner kick), 7:01
NC — Fennell 75 kick return (Marsico kick), 6:45
KO — Minford 20 pass from Buckley (Wagner kick), 4:25
KO — Alex Samarin 6 pass from Buckley (Wagner kick), 8:12
KO — Wagner 37 field goal, 5:03
NC — Tipinski 39 pass from Prentice (Marsico kick), 2:33
Rushing: Keystone Oaks, Shawn Reick 11-56, Kevin Drew 3-4, Billy Bricker 1-2,. North Catholic, Joey Ptrentice 7-64, Jack Fennell 10-86, Kyle Tipinski 11-42.
Passing: Keystone Oaks, Nick Buckley 26-49-322-0. North Catholic, Joey Prentice 18-24-242-0.
Receiving: Keystone Oaks, Quinn Kenny 2-28, Owen Minford 10-137, Ryan Healy 1-3, Shawn Reick 7-65, Alex Samarin 5-82. North Catholic, Kyle Tipinski 3-59, Daniel Long 6-93, Tyler Maziarz 2-43, Carson Laconi 2-4, Jack Fennell 3-26, Liam Straub 2-27.