Guilfoyle could ponder many ‘what ifs’
STEELTON — Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic, which had to deal with a COVID-19 shutdown the week before playoffs started, some drama surrounding a forfeit victory over Bishop McCort in the first round of the District 6 playoffs and an early-season forfeit to Forest Hills due to the use of an illegal player, came agonizingly close to overcoming all of that to play for a state title on Saturday.
The most obvious play most will look back on is the fourth-and-12 holding call that extended Steelton-Highspire’s game-winning drive and set up Bryan Hernandez’s 34-yard field goal to put the Rollers ahead, 16-14, but there were plenty of other key moments that could have changed the outcome in the PIAA Class 1A semifinals.
One of those came late in the first quarter when the Marauders had a third-and-1 from the Steelton-Highspire 4-yard line, but a bad snap on third down led to a missed 28-yard field goal a play later.
The Marauders also had several drives stall due to being put into first-and-long situations after committing pre-snap penalties.
“Some of the penalties that were called didn’t allow for us to have any flow,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. “We didn’t get much of an explanation on a lot of them.”
Just before the half, Bishop Guilfoyle drove from its own 3-yard line to the Steelton-Highspire 26, but after an incomplete pass on first down, the Rollers sacked BG on three straight plays.
In the first half, Steelton-Highspire hurt itself by losing a pair of fumbles and throwing two interceptions, and Mehki Flowers nearly continued the trend in the fourth quarter when he bobbled Alex Erby’s handoff before finding a hole and running 4 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
On the Steamrollers’ next possession, Odell Greene was hit for a 3-yard loss by Andrew Yanoshak back to their own 14-yard line, but Yanoshak was shaken up on the play and had to come out of the game. On the next play, Flowers took a screen pass 86 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
“It was tough, because you always want to be out there for your team,” Yanoshak said. “You always want to make a play, and you think about how you could have made that play. It just didn’t go our way. He’s a four-star player for a reason.”
Steelton-Highspire actually converted a fourth down earlier on its game-winning drive that also could have wrapped up the game for BG when Erby found Tyrone Moore on a 15-yard pass on fourth-and-6 from the Rollers’ 46.
Then, of course, was the fourth-and-12.
“I don’t like to point fingers, but I didn’t really see anything. The ref might have,” Yanoshak said. “I was in the backfield. The refs make the call, and once it’s made, you have to accept it.”
Prior to that play, both teams called timeouts, but BG thought it still had one left that it could have used after Haiden Garner’s catch down to the Steelton-Highspire 19 in the final seconds.
“We thought we had one timeout left, but they said no,” Wheeler said. “I didn’t think we used all three, but the ref on our sideline said we had no timeouts left.
“I’m so proud of their effort, because with 38 seconds to go, everyone thought the game was over. These guys didn’t. They knew they could make a play. Konner (Kiesewetter) stepped up, and Haiden got us into position to kick a field goal, and from that distance we’re pretty good usually. It is what it is today, though.”
Star senior running back and defensive back Keegan Myrick said all the close calls made losing Saturday even harder, especially considering how close the Marauders came to a state title last year when they lost 10-7 in overtime to Farrell.
“This was a senior-led team, and without a doubt our seniors left everything out on this field,” Myrick said. “I’m so proud of everyone for battling through everything this year. We had so many bad things happen, but through it all, the seniors have stepped up. I’ll remember all the wins and the celebrations after games, and I’ll remember that this team never gave up.”