BG falls short in thriller
STEELTON — For a brief moment Saturday afternoon, it appeared as though the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic football team had booked a return trip to HersheyPark Stadium for this Friday’s PIAA Class 1A championship game.
But as Marauder faithful reached into their pockets to pull out Hershey Kisses to toss onto War Veterans Memorial Field, a referee was reaching into his to pull out a flag.
Facing a fourth-and-12 from the BG 27-yard line, Steelton-Highspire quarterback Andrew Erby ran to his left to avoid the incoming rush of Adrian Johnson and lobbed a pass high into the air. Several players, both from Steelton and Bishop Guilfoyle went up for it beyond the first down marker, but it fell to the ground harmlessly.
The flag that followed was anything but.
The Marauders were called for holding Rollers standout receiver Mehki Flowers, a four-star recruit who is leaning toward a commitment to Penn State. The 10-yard penalty made it fourth-and-2 from the 17 yard-line, and Bryan Hernandez kicked a 34-yard field goal with 38.7 seconds left in the game to put Steelton-Highspire ahead for good, 16-14, in its PIAA Class 1A semifinal victory.
“I saw eight kids jump for the ball, and it landed incomplete,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. “They called a defensive hold. That’s what he saw, and he threw the flag. But it’s a Hail Mary. He threw it up. We had four guys there. They had four guys there, and everyone was jumping for the ball. We gave it our best shot.”
The game did not end with Hernandez’s field goal. The Marauders got the ball back at their own 36 after the kickoff with 34.2 seconds left, and Konner Kiesewetter connected on a pass to Haiden Garner across the middle for 45 yards to the Steelton-Highspire 19-yard line. A referee originally signaled to stop the clock as it appeared Garner got out of bounds, and Kiesewetter ran to his sideline to get the next play call, but another referee started the clock back up. By the time Kiesewetter got back under center and clocked the ball, only 15 seconds remained.
Instead of running another play and risking the clock expiring, Wheeler sent out his field goal unit, but Deven Wyandt’s 36-yard field goal was wide left.
“It’s a real tough way to lose, and I wish I could tell you how I really felt about some things that happened today, but in the end, it is what it is, and I’m proud of our guys,” Wheeler said. “They never quit. We had a chance to win it at the end, and I’m definitely proud of our effort.”
Play of the game: Unfortunately, it has to be the holding penalty on fourth-and-12 that set up Hernandez’s game-winning field goal.
Keegan Myrick, Bishop Guilfoyle’s best defensive back, was the closest player to Flowers.
“I fell. I looked back and saw a flag,” Myrick said. “I didn’t agree with it, but you have to just go with it.”
Player of the game: Flowers drew the big penalty, scored Steelton-Highspire’s first points of the game with a 4-yard touchdown run with 11:03 to play and gave the Steamrollers their first lead when he caught a screen pass and broke several tackles, including one in the backfield, for an 86-yard touchdown with 6:28 to play. The junior finished with five catches for 129 yards and carried the ball six times for 29 yards.
“I broke three or four groups of people trying to tackle me,” Flowers said. “It was crazy, but my vision was even better than those guys. It feels great to be playing for the state championship.”
Unsung hero: Myrick rushed for 122 hard-earned yards and a 6-yard touchdown that gave BG a 14-13 lead with 3:54 remaining, caught two passes for 25 yards and returned a fumble on the first play from scrimmage 32 yards for a score to give the Marauders a 7-0 lead that held up until the fourth quarter. He also intercepted a pass.
Most vital statistic: Despite forcing four turnovers in the first half and making none of its own, Bishop Guilfoyle never built on its 7-0 lead.
Steelton-Highspire coach Andrew Erby: “We came into the game and knew they were a very good football team and that we would have our hands full. We understood that we had to keep fighting. They are a well-coached team. They had more experience than us, but we refocused and regrouped after that early score and were prepared for the opportunity.”
Wheeler: “These seniors have been through more than any team I have ever been around. They kept fighting, kept battling and kept working. This group of seniors is just incredible. I love being around them and working out with them. That’s why this hurts so bad right now. Seeing their faces after knowing how hard they have worked, to come up a little short again is a pretty difficult moment.”
Bishop Guilfoyle senior tight end and defensive end Andrew Yanoshak: “It’s super tough, but you have to roll with the punches. Football is more than a game. It teaches you a lot about life, and we’ve learned a lot about life the hard way. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. You just have to roll with the punches and keep your head up.”
Notable: Myrick went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season on a 10-yard carry during Bishop Guilfoyle’s second possession. … Though penalties certainly hurt the Marauders, they were also damaging to Steelton-Highspire, which committed 11 for 89 yards, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Flowers after his 86-yard touchdown that forced the Rollers into a failed two-point conversion attempt from the 25-yard line. … The officiating crew was from District 1 in the Philadelphia area. … Odell Greene rushed 23 times for 129 yards for the Rollers. … Coach Erby said failing on the two-point conversion and not deciding to give Hernandez a chance to make the extra point influenced his decision to try the game-winning field goal, and Hernandez rewarded his coach’s faith in him.
“I knew it was good all the way,” Hernandez said. “I know how to kick, and I kicked it right. It’s amazing to be moving on, and we’re going to take it home.”
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (7-3); Steelton-Highspire (9-0).
Next: Steelton-Highspire takes on WPIAL champion Jeannette for the PIAA Class 1A championship at 11 a.m. on Friday at HersheyPark Stadium.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle 7 0 0 7 — 14
Steelton-Highspire 0 0 0 16 — 16
BG–Myrick 32 fumble return (Wyandt kick), 11:38.
SH–Flowers 4 run (Hernandez kick), 11:03.
SH–Flowers 86 pass from Erby (pass failed), 6:28.
BG–Myrick 6 run (Wyandt kick), 3:54.
SH–Hernandez 38 FG, :38
TEAM STATISTICS BG SH
First downs 15 13
Totals yards 297 325
Rushes-yards 44-122 34-178
Yards passing 175 147
Pass (comp.-att.-int) 7-14-0 7-14-2
Punts-avg. 4-29 2-22
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 8-45 11-89
Rushing–Bishop Guilfoyle, Myrick 28-122, McCloskey 2-6, McNelly 1-4, Wyandt 1-0, Garner 7-(-1), Ko. Kiesewetter 4-(-3), TEAM 1-(-6). Steelton-Highspire, Greene 23-129, Flowers 6-29, Hammonds 3-17, Moore 1-4, TEAM 1-(-1).
Passing–Bishop Guilfoyle, Ko. Kiesewetter 5-10-0-162, Garner 2-3-0-13, TEAM 0-1-0-0. Steelton-Highspire, Erby 7-14-2-147.
Receiving–Bishop Guilfoyle, Garner 2-84, Myrick 2-25, Ka. Kiesewetter 1-48, Johnston 1-14, Ko. Kiesewetter 1-4. Steelton-Highspire, Flowers 5-129, Moore 1-15, Greene 1-3.