JOHNSTOWN - One of Seth Umholtz's finest moments as a varsity football player still drew a little bit of good-natured teasing from his coach.
Umholtz, Tyrone's two-way starting lineman, was in the perfect spot on defense late in the first quarter, returning an intercepted pass 45 yards for a touchdown that proved to be a catalyst in the Golden Eagles' 26-6 victory over Johnstown at Trojans Stadium Friday night.
Umholtz turned a rocket screen pass thrown by Johnstown senior quarterback Phillip Madison into the pick-six with 6:15 left in the first quarter, giving Tyrone a 13-0 lead and turning the tide in what was the regular-season finale for the Golden Eagles and the season's final game for Johnstown.
But Golden Eagles' coach Steve Guthoff still seized upon the opportunity to get in some playful ribbing.
"I'm always curious,'' Guthoff said with a smile. "I've found out that the guys who intercept screen passes like that are the guys who aren't doing the pass-rushing. I'll have to look at the game film to see how hard he was pass-rushing.''
When Guthoff removed his tongue from his cheek, he acknowledged that "It was a big play in the game, and [Umholtz] is such a smart player out on the field.''
Umholtz ran untouched into the end zone after making the interception.
"Our corners were calling for a screen and he [Madison] dropped back and I had a feeling it would be thrown there,'' Umholtz said. "I got some blocks down the field or I wouldn't have made it in.''
Tyrone finished its regular season at 7-3 and will host Cambria Heights (7-3) in a first-round, District 6-AA playoff game next Saturday.
Johnstown wrapped a 3-7 season.
"That was a killer,'' Johnstown coach Tony Penna, Jr. said of Umholtz's interception. "It was a big momentum-shifter. That kid made a nice play.''
Tyrone mixed the run and pass well all night, churning out 233 total yards of offense, including 164 on the ground. Junior scatback James Oliver rushed for 97 yards and a 15-yard second-quarter touchdown for the Golden Eagles.
Tyrone opened the scoring on a 20-yard run up the middle by senior tight end Corey Snyder, capping a 59-yard, six-play drive on the Golden Eagles' first possession of the game. The Eagles forged a 20-0 lead at intermission when junior quarterback Erik Wagner pushed through a pile of players at the line of scrimmage and scored from 2 yards out with 58 seconds remaining in the first half, wrapping a 62-yard, eight-play Eagles' scoring drive.
"I think this is the best team we've beaten this year,'' Guthoff said of the Johnstown team. "They're a good team.''
Johnstown got its only points of the game on Madison's 3-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. By then, Tyrone had built a 26-0 lead.
"We're a young, inexperienced team this year, and we kind of made a habit of getting into big holes in games,'' Penna said.
Tyrone enters the playoffs as the fourth seed, while Cambria Heights - which lost its regular-season finale to Northern Cambria Friday - is fifth.
"I told our guys that I'm awfully proud of the character they've shown this season,'' said Guthoff, whose team won seven of its last eight games after an 0-2 start. "We battled back to get into this position. We needed a convincing win [Friday] going into the playoffs.''
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tyrone13 7 6 0 - 26
Johnstown0 0 0 6 - 6
T-Snyder 20 run (Umholtz kick), 9:16.
T-Umholtz 45 interception return (kick failed), 6:15.
T-Wagner 2 run (Umholtz kick), 0:58.
T-Oliver 15 run (kick failed), 5:37.
J-Madison 3 run (pass failed), 11:54.
RUSHING: Tyrone-Oliver 17-97, Snyder 5-30, A. Hunter 5-25, Wilson-Adams 5-9, Wagner 3-4, Muir 1-(-1). Johnstown-Terrel Jones 16-44, Braxton 11-39, Madison 8-22, Miller 2-2, Lanzendorfer 1-5, White 1-4, Williams 1-(-2).
PASSING: Tyrone-Wagner 5-13-0-54, Wilson-Adams 2-2-0-15. Johnstown-Madison 5-12-1-34.
RECEIVING: Tyrone-Wilson-Adams 3-32, Oliver 2-15, Woomer 1-13, Makdad 1-9. Johnstown-Taurean Jones 2-14, Terrel Jones 1-11, Lanzendorfer 1-5, Andrews 1-4.