Ed Stockett threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Marqua Perdue with 2:29 left, and Perdue made a game-saving interception with 19 seconds remaining as McKeesport rallied for an 18-14 win over Altoona in a WPIAL Foothills Conference game Friday night at Mansion Park.
Brennan Luciano's 1-yard sneak and Jim Metzger's PAT gave Altoona a 14-0 lead with only 25 seconds left in the half, but McKeesport's Devon Anderson returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and it turned out to be a huge momentum swing.
"I blew the game," Altoona coach John Franco said. "I'm responsible for it. I should have called for a squib kick instead of letting the kid get a chance to return the thing.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Altoona’s Kevin Givens is face-masked by McKeesport quarterback Ed Stockett while trying to make a tackle.
"That's on me," Franco said. "Just a terrible call on my part, and there's no excuse for it. I never should have let him return it that late in the half."
McKeesport's run for the 2-point conversion failed, but the Tigers were on the scoreboard [14-6] and got renewed life.
"That was huge," McKeesport coach Jim Ward said of the kickoff return. "It really sparked us, and we were able to establish some things in the second half and keep them off the scoreboard."
Altoona's defense did a solid job in containing the McKeesport offense, but quarterback Ed Stockett was able to connect with Jamie Grayson for a 30-yard score in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 14-12.
Altoona's defense intercepted two passes [by Jake Diviney and Matt Dry] and recovered a fumble in the end zone, but Stockett finally came through with a 30-yard TD to Perdue to cap a 7-play, 63-yard drive with 2:29 to play and push the Tigers on top, 18-14, en route to their second win in five starts.
Luciano, who hit Colby Fink with an 11-yard TD pass less than three minutes into the game, almost pulled out the victory in the closing seconds. With 2:21 left, Luciano, thanks to a pair of 15-yard penalties, drove the Lions from their own 39 to the McKeesport 21.
Luciano just missed a diving Jaret Berardinelli in the corner of the end zone with 41 ticks left before Perdue intercepted a pass at the 10 to dash the Lions' last hope.
"They made one more play than us," Franco said. "Our kids played their tails off. We got some opportune turnovers defensively. We struggled offensively. We moved up and down the field, but couldn't make a play in the red zone to finish off a drive, and that's been the story all year.
"It's just frustrating ... really frustrating."
Now 1-4 and losers of four straight after a season-opening win over Norwin, the Lions host Hempfield in a conference game next Friday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
McKeesport0 6 6 6 - 18
Altoona7 7 0 0 - 14
A-Fink 11 pass from Luciano (Metzger kick), 9:13.
A-Luciano 1 run (Metzger kick), :25.
M-Anderson 94 kickoff return (run failed), :11.
M-Grayson 30 pass from Stockett (run failed), 3:44.
M-Perdue 30 pass from Stockett, 2:29.
RUSHING: McKeesport-Christian 12-86, Robinson 3-44, Moore 7-26, Stockett 18-16, Anderson 3-3, Knight 1-0. Altoona-Barnes 6-34, Givens 11-19, Howsare 3-2, TEAM 1-(-2), Luciano 6-(-10).
PASSING: McKeesport-Stockett 7-15-2-111, Knight 1-1-0-16. Altoona-Luciano 10-22-1-141.
RECEIVING: McKeesport-Grayson 3-69, Perdue 3-61, Wright 2-17. Altoona-Barnes 5-69, Ward 2-43, Diviney 2-22, Fink 1-11.
INTERCEPTIONS: McKeesport-Perdue. Altoona-Diviney, Dry.