Dominating performance sends Eagles back to finals

Two plays at the end of the first half of last night’s District 6-AA semifinals between Tyrone and Philipsburg-Osceola reflected the complexion of the game for the Mounties.
On third-and-13 from the Mountie 21-yard line, P-O defensive end Tyler Good sacked Leonard Wilson for a 13-yard loss to the 34. It was the Mounties’ first big play of the game and, trailing 31-0, it was the kind of momentum nudging effort P-O was in need of.
But on the very next play, following a Tyrone timeout with 5 seconds to play in the half, Wilson rolled right, eluded a rush and threw a strike to junior Josh Crabtree between two defenders in the front corner of the endzone for a touchdown with no time remaining that gave the Eagles a 38-0 lead at halftime.
So went the game for P-O. When it came down to players making plays, Tyrone had them in abundance, while the Mounties never found one.
Tyrone (10-1) won 58-14 in its highest offensive output since defeating United 58-13 in the District semis in 1999. The Eagles advance to the AA championship game next week at Mansion Park against the winner of today’s semifinal game between Forest Hills and Central Cambria.
“I feel like we’ve achieved so much,” said senior lineman Justin Clark. “We went two years in a row just barely making it into the playoffs and now we’re the first seed and going to Mansion and looking pretty good.”
The win was Tyrone’s ninth straight and sixth in a row at Gray Veterans Field in the postseason since 1999.
With an explosive offense and a grudging defense that is loath to give even an inch, the Eagles have now disposed of their first two playoff opponents by a combined 100-21.
Tyrone used a lengthy cast of skill players last night to hurt P-O in a variety of ways. Five different Golden Eagle players had touches resulting in 14 yards or more and six scored touchdowns. The Eagles converted eight out of 12 times on third down and twice on fourth down.
“When we get our stuff together, we can play great football,” said receiver Tommy Crowl.
The Eagles’ defense, meanwhile, continued to find ways to penetrate into their opponent’s backfield and force a team to work in long-yardage situations. Tyrone limited P-O to 89 yards in total offense and blanketed leading rusher Adam White, who needed 95 yards going into the game to eclipse his school’s all-time rushing mark. He got 77, and all of that was in the fourth quarter against Tyrone’s second and third team.
“Our goal for the game was to stuff (White) and not let him get anything,” said Clark. “(His pursuit of the record) gave us more resolve.”
Through three quarters, Tyrone held White to zero yards on 10 carries and on the night he was dumped in his own backfield five times. The Mounties went without a first down until the 11:37 mark of the third quarter and never moved into the Eagles’ half of the field until the third quarter.
“Our defense set the tone,” said Tyrone John Franco, who has now guided Tyrone to six appearances in the District championship game. “It set us up for great field position, they never had long sustained drives, and we kept getting the ball back. You’re bound to score when you get the ball back around the 50.”
Crowl continued to develop into a dominant open field play-maker, catching two passes for 73 yards and one touchdown. Leonard Wilson completed five of 10 passes for 93 yards and did not throw an interception for the third consecutive game.
Ben Gummo led the Eagles on the ground with three touchdowns and 91 yards on eight carries – one of three Golden Eagle rushers to gain more than 50 against the Mounties. Brice Mertiff added 71 yards and Brinton Mingle 51 as Tyrone rolled up 303 yards rushing.
“They controlled both lines of scrimmage and they controlled us in every aspect of the football game,” said P-O coach Jeff Vroman, whose team finished its season 7-4. “I didn’t expect that. I thought we were ready. The kids didn’t come over here with the purpose of losing, but I definitely don’t think we played well. A lot of that is a testament to Tyrone’s program.”
Tyrone got things rolling on its first possession of the game, when it moved 68 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Eagles were 3-for-3 on third downs on the drive, including an 11-yard completion to Max Soellner and a 12-yard run by Gummo. Then, on third-and-five from the 33, Wilson passed over the middle to Crowl, who leapt in the air to make the catch and then broke containment to the outside and scampered into the endzone.
Crowl played a major role in the Eagles’ next score, as well. After an exchange of punts, Tyrone set up at their own 45 after an illegal procedure call on first down. On their first play, Mertiff took a pitch left and lofted a pass to Crowl down the sideline for a 40-yard gain to the P-O 20. Three plays later, Gummo broke free off tackle and scored on a nine-yard run. His kick gave Tyrone a 14-0 lead.
“Every football game is won on the line of scrimmage and that’s the strength of our team,” said Franco. “(Our backs) run very well and our passing game was good, I thought it balanced out our running game very well.”
On P-O’s ensuing series, the Mounties were held to minus-3 yards on three plays and were forced to punt from their 18. The snap went high over the head of the punter White, who got the ball out of the endzone for a safety and a 16-0 Tyrone lead.
The Golden Eagles would score three more times in the half, once on a short 18-yard drive following a shanked punt. After three running plays, Gummo took it in from the three and then added a two-point conversion run to give the Eagles a 24-0 lead with 4:28 to go in the second quarter.
On P-O’s next play following the kick, quarterback Jeff Winters ran off tackle and was hit by Clark, who jarred the ball loose. Soellner covered it up and Tyrone took over at the P-O 37. Mingle carried the ball three times for Tyrone totaling 28 yards, including the last seven to put the Eagles ahead 31-0.
A 27-yard punt return by Crowl set the stage for Tyrone’s last score of the half, which began at the P-O 43 with 1:04 to go.
“I’ve come out lately fearless of making mistakes,” said Crowl. “Before I was a little hesitant but now I realize that any game could be my last game. I don’t want to have any regrets. I found a way to turn my switch on.”
Tyrone scored on its first two possessions of the second half to build a 51-0 lead. The first came on one play when Gummo, following a Mountie punt, took a hand off up the middle against an eight-man front, broke one tackle and outraced defenders on a 52-yard touchdown run to make it 44-0.
The second came on a 46-yard march that consumed more than six minutes and consisted of 11 running plays. Shane Christine carried the ball seven times on the series for 30 yards and scored from the two with 4.8 seconds left in the third.
P-O added a pair of late touchdowns, one on a two-yard blast by Stan Koguc that capped a 61-yard drive.
Tyrone answered that one with a 47-yard run by Matt Lauder with 4:54 to play making it 58-7.
P-O scored once more with 2:40 to play on an eight-yard run by White.
The Eagles now prepare to head back to Mansion Park, where Tyrone is 6-0 under Franco, who called the stadium home during the 80s and early 90s as the head football coach at Altoona.
“With just four seniors, it put so much more pressure on (our seniors),” said Franco. “What a tribute to them that they were able to perform at the level they have.”
GRID TIDBITS: The Eagles secured the program’s 14th 10-win season – their sixth under Franco and first since 2000 … Tyrone outgained P-O 436-89 … the Eagles have outscored their last four opponents 168-27 … the victory marked Franco’s 99th win at Tyrone … P-O finished 1-3 when White rushed for under 100 yards … the championship game is scheduled for next Saturday with a time to be announced. Gameday is subject to change.
Tyrone 58, Philipsburg-Osceola 14
Score by quarter
Phiipsburg-Osceola – 0 0 0 14- 14
Tyrone – 16 22 13 7 – 58
First Quarter
T – Crowl 33 pass from Wilson. (Gummo kick) 7:53
T – Gummo 9 run (Gummo kick) 3:39
T – Safety 1:35
Second Quarter
T – Gummo 3 run (Gummo run) 4:28
T – Mingle 17 run (Gummo kick) 2:24
T – Crabtree 34 pass from Wilson (Gummo kick) 0:00
Third Quarter
T – Gummo 53 run (Kick blocked) 9:10
T – Christine 1 run ( Wheland kick) 0:04.8
Fourth Quarter
PO – Koguc 2 run (LaFuria kick) 8:32
T – Lauder 47 run (Wheland kick) 4:54
PO – White 8 run (LaFuria kick) 2:40
Team Statistics
First Downs 18 4
Rushes 51 25
Rush yards 303 89
Passing att. 6-12 0-9
Pass yards 133 0
Int. by 1 0
Fumbles/rec 1/0 2/1
Penalties 2-10 5-35
Punts 2-36.5 4-26.5
Total Yards 436 89
Individual Statistics
Tyrone: Mertiff 17-71, Mingle 7-51 1 TD, Gummo 8-91 3 TDs, Christine 8-34 1 TD, Wilson 3-(-11), Lauder 1-47 1 TD, Hunter 4-16, Bonsell 2-4, Myers 1-3.
Philipsburg-Osceola: White 17-71 1 TD, Koguc 4-32 1 TD, Winters 3-4, Team 1-(-18) .
Tyrone: Wilson 5-11 93 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Int, Mertiff 1-1 40 yards 0 TDs, 0 Int.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Winters 0-0 0 yards 0 TD, 1 Int.
Tyrone: Soellner 2-29, Crowl 2-73 1 TD, Crabtree 1-34, 1 TD, Clark 1- (-3).
Philipsburg-Osceola: None.