Ursuline tops Erie Prep, earns playoff berth
Irish senior Alex Allen scored four touchdowns for the Irish in the 39-33 win.
By JOHN BUTERA
MINERAL RIDGE -- Ursuline senior running back Alex Allen ran into the history books in the first half of Saturday's game.
In the second half, he ran the Irish into the playoffs.
The Irish rallied from a 24-8 halftime deficit to upend Erie Prep 39-33 at Mineral Ridge High School to earn their first playoff berth since 2002.
"I told the team at halftime that the seniors only had 24 guaranteed minutes left in the season," said Ursuline coach Dan Reardon. "After that, they went out there on fire."
Allen ran 31 times for 294 yards and four touchdowns for the Irish (6-4), who outscored the Rams 31-6 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Allen scored three of his touchdowns during that run, while Derrick Stewart added the other score on a 20-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Scooter Hargate.
"Basically, in the first half we only gave up one touchdown on defense," said Allen. "Our defense was just out there too long.
"At halftime, we said we practiced too hard for this and we knew once things started clicking, there would be no stopping us."
Allen, who entered the game with 1,941 yards, became the first player in Steel Valley Conference history to run for 2,000 yards in the regular season when he broke a 60-yard touchdown with 51 seconds left in the first half.
Only three players in SVC history have rushed for 2,000 yards in a season -- Mooney's Ted Bell, Ursuline's Sean Penny and Warren Harding's Maurice Clarett. All three passed the mark during the playoffs.
Erie Prep took the early lead when Markus Graham scored on a 5-yard touchdown with 7:32 left in the first quarter to make it 7-0.
Ten seconds later, on Ursuline's first offensive play, Prep's Matt Fischer recovered an Irish fumble and ran 16 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-0.
After an Ursuline punt, the Rams made it 17-0 on a 38-yard field goal by A.J. Deluca with 7:22 left in the first half.
After Allen's touchdown -- and his ensuing conversion run -- made it 17-8, Erie's John Wentz returned the kickoff 70 yards to Ursuline's 10-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback John Csir faked the handoff and scrambled 2 yards into the left corner of the end zone to make it 24-8.
Allen scored two touchdowns -- on runs of 6 and 3 -- early in the second half to tie the game at 24, then Stewart's reception gave the Irish their first lead, 32-24.
Erie's Jovan Rowan caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Fischer to make it 32-30, then Allen scored his final touchdown, a 25-yarder, to close out the scoring.