EBENSBURG - After a series of successful stints as a coordinator at his alma mater, Portage, and at Central Cambria, Bill Corrente decided he was ready for the greater responsibilities that come with the head coaching duties at Central Cambria.
First six weeks ... everything appeared hunky dory as the Red Devils dashed off to a 5-1 record.
A three-game losing streak, however, put a damper on Corrente's head coaching debut, and threatened to push the Red Devils out of District 6 Class AA playoff contention.
It's safe to say that the Red Devils pulled out a victory when they needed it most, a 26-15 decision over Bishop McCort in a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference football game on Friday. The Red Devils will play Central next week in the first round of the playoffs.
"I think I have to point out all our seniors because of how many of them play on both sides of the ball," Corrente said. "They really sold out and gave it their all. They really played hard. They played their hearts out."
Central Cambria's players celebrated by giving Corrente a celebratory dousing from the water bucket on a cool but pleasant evening at Central Cambria Stadium.
Junior quarterback Will Seymour rushed for 120 yards, threw for one touchdown and added the two second-half touchdowns that helped Central Cambria wiped out a 15-13 deficit.
Central Cambria halted a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Red Devils (6-4) outgained Bishop McCort, 334-248.
Seymour rushed 22 times and helped Central Cambria wear down the Crushers' defense as the night wore on. He also completed 11 of 24 passes for 130 yards. He was intercepted once.
After a 0-0 first quarter, Central Cambria opened the scoring when Kerry Kirsch rushed 3 yards to help his team assume a 7-0 lead. Kirsch contributed 48 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Scott Bauer added 37 yards on eight carries.
Luke DiFrancesco hauled in a 22-yard pass from McCort freshman quarterback Levi Cook less than 3 minutes later to tie the score. Cook completed 12 of 21 passes for 159 yards.
But Tyler Adams grabbed an 11-yard scoring pass from Seymour to give Central Cambria a 13-6 lead with 2:49 left before halftime.
Jacob Burgo's 27-yard touchdown reception, coupled with the two-point conversion, staked McCort to a 15-13 lead 3:01 into the second half.
A patient and opportunistic Central Cambria team turned the momentum back in its favor, however. A fumble recovery after a Red Devils punt led to Seymour's 2-yard TD run that put the Red Devils back on top for good.
"I think we made a couple of more plays than they did," Corrente said. "We had a couple of drives at the end and we made some nice plays defensively when we had to."
Central Cambria turned to ball control in the fourth quarter and took advantage of an offside penalty on fourth-and-1 to trim 7:20 off the fourth-quarter clock. Although the Red Devils failed to score on the possession, they maintained a 19-15 lead and then took over on downs, aided by three more costly McCort penalties, with 2:44 left.
Seymour's 23-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left in the game sealed the victory.
Bishop McCort 0 7 8 0 15
Central Cambria 0 13 6 7 26
CC-Kirch, 3 run (Crimmins kick), 8:21
BM-DiFrancesco 22 pass from Cook (Junker kick), 5:48
CC-Adams 11 pass from Seymour (kick wide), 2:49
BM-Burgo 27 pass from Cook (Wade pass from Junker), 8:59
CC-Seymour 2 run (pass failed), 5:32
CC-Seymour 23 run (Crimmins kick), 1:30
Bishop McCort - Cook 20-60 yards, Rugg 10-15, DiFrancesco 1-6. Central Cambria Seymour 22-120 (2 TD), Kirsch 10-48, Bauer 8-37, Adams 1-(-1).
PASSING: Bishop McCort - Cook 12-21-0. Wade 2-2-0. Central Cambria-Seymour 11-24-1.
RECEIVING: Bishop McCort-Trexler 5-48, Rugg 2-35, DiFrancesco 2-32, Formica 2-13, Burgo 1-27. Central Cambria Davis 5-21, Ambrisco 4-67, Adams 2-22, McBreen 1-5.
TEAM STATISTICS BM CC
First downs 14 22
Rushes-yards 32-81 41-204
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 14-23-0 11-23-1
Yards passing 155 130
Total yards 248 334
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 10-55 5-40
Punters: BM: Miller 1-37; Junker 5-178; CC: Ambrisco 4-117
Point-after kicks: BM-Junker 1-1, CC-Crimmons 2-3
Interceptions: BM: Burgo 1-0; CC: None.