Gripp, Golden Eagles advance to finals
TYRONE — Tyrone was supposed to play Mountain League rival Central on Sept. 4 before the coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the high school football season for two weeks.
The Golden Eagles were rescheduled to play the Scarlet Dragons this past Friday, but District 6 moved the playoffs up two weeks.
The rivals finally have a date set following Tyrone’s 20-14 triumph over Penn Cambria in the District 6 Class 3A semifinals at Gray-Vets Memorial Field on Saturday. The Golden Eagles will play Central, a 25-7 winner over Westmont Hilltop in the other semifinal, this Saturday on Halloween at Mansion Park at 7 p.m. for the district title.
“Central vs. Tyrone my whole career has been a great game,” Tyrone coach John Franco said. “It’s a lot of fun. Two great programs with great tradition, and it’s Central’s last year in the Mountain League. It’s great that we get to play for the district championship.”
Play of the game: Leading by just six early in the fourth quarter and facing a third-and-12 from his own 43-yard line, Tyrone quarterback Brandon Lucas eluded some pressure and lofted up a pass to Damon Gripp, who came down with it for a 43-yard gain. The play set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Lucas that put the Golden Eagles up 20-7 with 10:24 to play.
Gripp on the play: “Brandon was on the money with his passes to me. We have a good connection. He’s been my quarterback for so long. We both read the defense, and he knew I would be open deep and he threw it where it needed to be for me to get it.”
Player of the game: Gripp finished with 10 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown. He now has 37 catches for more than 700 yards in six games for Tyrone this year, all wins.
Unsung hero: This really should be “player of the game part two” but Gripp’s stats will catch all the attention. Matt Clifton, however, finished with four and a half sacks and was in the backfield all night causing Penn Cambria sophomore quarterback Garrett Harrold to rush passes or check down to shorter routes.
Most vital statistic: Despite the Panthers coming in with the more prolific passing game, Tyrone outgained Penn Cambria through the air, 244-191.
Most deceiving statistic: Penn Cambria won the turnover battle, 3-0.
Missed opportunities: The Panthers appeared to take a lead with just 3.4 seconds left before halftime when Harrold broke through several would-be tackles to find the end zone, but a holding penalty wiped out the score. Rather than attempt a field goal from the 7-yard line, the Panthers tried for a touchdown but came up short and the clock ran out.
Penn Cambria also had a second-and-6 from the Tyrone 46 down by six with less than three minutes to play, but Harrold was sacked by Clifton. On the next play, Clifton and Ross Gampe combined for a sack, and on fourth down Gampe sacked Harrold again.
Harrold on his touchdown being called back on a penalty: “It was pretty tough, because it would have given us a lot of momentum going into the half. I thought we battled tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”
Felus on Penn Cambria’s progress this season: “Our program is moving in the right direction. Our kids are really starting to believe, and you could see that tonight. We proved we belong in the conversation, and we’re going to keep working hard and bring our hard hat to work every day to get better.”
Franco on how important getting pressure on Harrold was: “All week, that was our No. 1 goal. We worked on pass defense and getting to the quarterback. That is one of our strengths this year. I thought we did a really good job of it, and I thought that was key.”
Records: Penn Cambria (3-4); Tyrone (6-0)
Next week: Penn Cambria will go back to play three more regular season games in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference. Tyrone plays Central for the District 6 Class 3A title at Mansion Park on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Notable: Brandon Storm had five catches for 53 yards and intercepted two passes for Penn Cambria. Jake Tsikalas, who was Franco’s quarterback as a sophomore when he coached at Penn Cambria, also had an interception for the Panthers. … Tommy Hicks and Lucas combined to rush for 142 yards.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria 7 0 0 7 — 14
Tyrone 0 7 6 7 — 20
PC–Harrold 4 run (Michina kick), 7:03.
T–Lucas 2 run (Markley kick), 2:50.
T–Gripp 29 pass from Lucas (kick failed), 4:13.
T–Lucas 6 run (Markley kick), 10:24.
PC–Harrold 1 run (Michina kick), 6:20.
TEAM STATISTICS PC T
First downs 10 18
Total yards 280 390
Rushes-yards 34-89 39-146
Yards passing 191 244
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 16-24-0 11-17-3
Punts-avg. 4-33.8 3-30.7
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-65 8-75
RUSHING–Penn Cambria, Grove 9-36, Harrold 20-26, Marinak 4-24, Smith 1-3. Tyrone, Hicks 21-72, Lucas 16-70, Gampe 2-4.
PASSING–Penn Cambria, Harrold 16-24-0-191. Tyrone, Lucas 11-17-3-244
RECEIVING–Penn Cambria, Storm 5-53, Grove 5-51, Marinak 4-61, Tsikalas 2-26. Tyrone, Gripp 10-233, Gwinn 1-11.