O’Saben, Wasilewski, big plays lead Central Cambria over Eagles

Taking aim
While Tyrone quarterback Levi Reihart looks for a receiver, his teammates Jerrod Good (66), Dustin Weaver (63), John Shaffer (85), Jared Templton (55) and others give him time to check all his options. Tyrone dropped a semifinal District 6-AA game to Central Cambria 27-20 at Gray-Vets Memorial Field on Friday. (The Daily Herald/Mary Michaels)

In a game where Central Cambria was poised to break a big play at a moment’s notice, the last thing the Tyrone Golden Eagles could afford to do was miss out on an opportunity.
And last night, at the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles had a big one staring them square in the face.
Trailing 27-14, with a wave of momentum pushing it towards the end zone, Tyrone found itself on the Red Devils’ 21. A score here, and the Eagles had every reason to believe it could erase the 27-7 hole it had dug itself by the first play of the third quarter.
But three plays netted the Eagles zero yards, and when John Shaffer was taken down for a 1-yard gain on a pop pass on fourth-and-8, the delicate balance of momentum tilted back in the Red Devils’ favor.
Tyrone would score once more, but a gutsy fourth-down call by Central Cambria coach Ken Bussard late in the game ensured the Eagles would get the ball back for just one more play, and it wasn’t nearly enough. Central Cambria defeated Tyrone 27-20 in the District semifinals for the second straight season, advancing to the championship game against the winner of today’s game between Forest Hills and Central.
It was Tyrone’s second loss in its last three semifinal games at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field.
“We dug ourselves in a hole too early, and we weren’t able to come out of it,” said Tyrone coach John Franco. “The really bad one was at the beginning of the fourth quarter when we didn’t get that one in down there. We had all the momentum on our side. If we could have gotten that one, it could have been a different game.”
Certainly, a score there to make it a one-touchdown game with an entire quarter to play and Tyrone moving the ball with regularity could have changed things. But there’s also every reason to believe Central Cambria running back Andrew O’Saben would not have had any part of that.
The senior workhorse at times willed his team to large chunks of Tyrone real estate. He finished with 265 yards on 32 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, none bigger than his first carry of the third quarter when he broke free up the middle and sprinted past the Golden Eagles’ secondary on his way to a 65-yard touchdown that made it 27-7.
“(O’Saben) seems to get stronger as the games goes on, as evidenced by that third-quarter run,” Bussard said. “He’s only 175 pounds, and to carry the ball as much as he does can be tough for someone that size. But he’s able to do it because he worked hard in the weight room in the off-season.”
“He kept making big play after big play,” Franco said of O’Saben. “He’s a heck of a runner.”
The Golden Eagles expected O’Saben to produce. What they may not have accounted for to the level they got it was the play of quarterback Jeff Wasilewski, who was playing only his second game at quarterback after breaking his leg in Week 1. He ran for only 3 yards on 3 carries, but that doesn’t take into account the way he used his feet to keep plays alive and avoid the rush.
Wasilewski completed 5 of 9 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception.
“He’s learning week in and week out,” Bussard said. “This is only the third time he’s taken a snap as a quarterback. He’s gaining experience as the playoffs go.”
Wasilewski looked like a seasoned veteran in the second quarter. With Central Cambria ahead 7-0 after an 11-yard O’Saben touchdown run on the Devils’ first possession, he orchestrated a 7-play, 67-yard drive that had his fingerprints all over it.
On second-and-14 from the Tyrone 42, he hooked up with Marshall Lipnic for 10 yards, and then on fourth-and-1 it was Wasilewski’s hard count that drew the Eagles offsides to keep the drive going.
Later, on second-and-6 from Tyrone’s 20, Wasilewski rolled left, eluded a hard Tyrone pass rush, and found Ben Ridgeley open in the front corner of the end zone to give the Devils a 13-0 lead with 3:47 left in the half.
“That play was just an athlete making something happen,” Bussard said. “Our left tackle made a block to pick up the rush, and Ben converted his route to get in the throwing lane for Jeff. They hooked up, and that comes from all those years playing together.”
Tyrone answered with its first successful drive of the half. The march went 64 yards on 11 plays, and it allowed the Eagles to convert a couple first downs for the first time. Until the 8:19 mark, Tyrone had run only 9 offensive plays and punted three times.
Tyrone got moving behind Mark Mingle, who started the series by rambling for 13 yards on a screen pass and rushed four times for 24 yards. A nine-yard completion from Levi Reihart to Shaffer converted a third down deep in Central Cambria territory, and Reihart capped the drive with a 1-yard run on a sneak to make it 13-7.
It didn’t take the Devils long to respond. On their ensuing series, Wasilewski found Mario Deyulis deep behind the Tyrone secondary for a 51-yard touchdown pass that restored Central Cambria’s two-score lead, making it 21-7 at halftime after O’Saben tacked on a 2-point conversion.
“In the first half, (Wasilewski) kept coming up with clutch plays, whether it was evading the rush or finding the open man,” said Franco.
O’Saben’s run to start the second half could have closed the books on the Eagles, but on its second series, Tyrone found life. Larry Glace and Mingle ran three times for 12 yards, opening up the Eagles’ play-action passing game. That allowed Desch to shake free on a double move on first down from the Central Cambria 45, and Reihart hit him in stride down the left sideline for a touchdown that made it 27-14 with 5:01 left in the quarter.
After Central Cambria stopped the Eagles’ next foray into scoring territory, Tyrone used a 13-play, 74-yard drive to pull within one score. Desch and Reihart combined four times on the drive for 45 yards, including two fourth-down conversions. Glace then took it in from the 6 on an option pitch.
A holding call on the extra-point moved the ball back to the 13, and Shaffer missed his second PAT attempt, but Tyrone trailed 27-20 with 4:11 to play.
Thanks to O’Saben, a powerful offensive line, and a gritty call by Bussard, the Eagles never saw the ball again until just 11 seconds remained.
O’Saben carried six times for 26 yards on Central Cambria’s final, clock-draining possession, and none was bigger than his run for five yards on fourth-and-1 from the Tyrone 44 with two minutes to play.
Bussard had called a timeout before the play, and he said he wanted to put the game in the hands of his offensive line.
“Up until that time, our line had established the line of scrimmage,” Bussard said. “Was it a dumb call, sure. Would I do it again, sure. I’ve made a lot of dumb calls. The safe call would have been to punt it, but I didn’t want to give their quarterback the ball with two minutes to go because he’s dangerous.”
Franco was pleased his players continued to come back, even when trailing big in the second half.
“Our kids didn’t quit. They were down 27-7 and people were getting ready for them to put the subs in,” Franco said.””We just kept coming.”
GRID TIDBITS: Tyrone has played in the District semifinals every season since 2002. In seven games, three losses have come to teams from the Laurel Highlands Conference … Reihart finished 12-for-23 for 137 yards and a touchdown. His numbers allowed him to finish the season with the second highest yardage total in Tyrone history with 1,481 yards … Central Cambria had nine plays of 15 yards or more, six by O’Saben.
CENTRAL CAMBRIA 27 TYRONE 20
TYRONE 0 7 7 6 – 20
CENTRAL CAMBRIA 7 14 6 0 – 27
First Quarter
C – O’Saben 11 run (Delauten kick) 6:22
Second Quarter
C – Ridgeley 20 pass from Wasilewski (PAT failed) 8:31
T – Reihart 1 run (Shaffer kick) 3:47
C – Deyulis 51 pass from Wasilewski (O’Saben run) 2:52
Third Quarter
C – O’Saben 65 run (PAT failed) 11:56
T – Desch 45 pass from Reihart (Shaffer kick) 5:01
Fourth Quarter
T – Glace 6 run (PAT failed) 4:11
Team Statistics
T C
1st Downs 14 14
Yards Rushing 104 279
Pass Att.-Comp. 12-23 5-9
Yards Passing 137 108
Total Offense 241 387
Int. By 0 0
Fum. Rec. 0-0 1-0
Punts-Avg. 5-42.6 4-28
Penalties/Yards 6-35 6-42
Individual Statistics
RUSHING
TYRONE – Glace 18-57; Mingle 9-48; Reihart 4-9; Weaver 1-(-5).
CENTRAL CAMBRIA – O’Saben 32-265; Bono 1-6; Ridgeley 1-5; Wasilewski 3-3.
PASSING
TYRONE- Reihart 12-23-137, 1 TD, 0 Int.
CENTRAL CAMBRIA – Wasilewski 5-9-108, 2 TDs, 0 int.
RECEIVING
TYRONE – Desch 7-110; Mingle 1-13; Shaffer 2-10; Ingle 1-4; Glace 1-(-1).
CENTRAL CAMBRIA – Deyulis 1-51; Lipnic 2-30; Ridgeley 1-20; O’Saben 1-7.

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