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November 27, 2009

Clairton wins Class A title with defensive stand

PITTSBURGH - It was an easy decision, Rochester head coach Gene Matsook said after the game.

Trailing 14-13, just moments after scoring the potential game-tying touchdown with just over a minute to play in the WPIAL Class A championship game, it was time to line up for the extra point.

But the line of scrimmage was the 1-yard line and not the 3, as a face mask penalty in the end zone on the 10-yard touchdown throw from Rochester quarterback Jasson Adamson to receiver Terry Gettings was assessed on the try.

"Our kids wanted to go for it," Matsook said. "They said, 'Coach, let's go, we're on the 1-yard line, this is what it's all about.' And I said, hey if they want to go for it, let's go for it."

So running back Trey Johnson took the hand off up the middle. He was stuffed just before the goal line.

And thus Clairton (11-1) held on to win its third WPIAL title in four years, 14-13.

"I was just trying to fill the hole," Clairton defensive back Eddie Ball said of the stop. "Stop him and the rest of my team came up … and I finished it."

Matsook said he was also concerned about the stamina of his team if overtime ensued.

"I knew in overtime we were going to have trouble," "They're too good on offense to stop them."

The game-winning points for Clairton, appropriately enough, came on a successful two-point conversion that got off to an auspicious start.

Quarterback Desimon Green tossed the ball to the back of the end zone, and it hit the hands of intended receiver Joshua Page. On the tip drill, Kevin Weatherspoon dove and cradled the ball in his hands for the successful try.

"(Kevin) actually lined up in the wrong spot to begin with," Clairton head coach Tom Nola said. "Then he ended up being at the right spot. He was supposed to be in tight, but he lined up wide."

Clairton also scored the game's first points in the second quarter, as Deontae Howard scored on a 15-yard run, and the two-point conversion try failed.

Rochester, however, climbed back into the game, adding a touchdown right before the half, as Johnson scored on a 2-yard run, and the Rams led 7-6 at the half.

Clairton took the lead for good on a 14-yard scramble by Green in a broken play.

"He's supposed to throw the football," Nola said. "But that second time he ran it, it ended up being a good thing. He just made that play happen."

And despite coming up one point short, Matsook stood by his team's decision.

"My hats off to our kids," Matsook said. "Our backs have been to the wall a couple of times but our kids responded very well. It's a shame that it has to come down to a decision like that."



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