WEXFORD — Farrell High’s football season ended one win short of playing for the state championship.
Friday night at Newman Stadium the Steelers fell to the Clairton Bears, 24-21, in a PIAA Class A semifinal matchup.
Farrell took a three-point lead with 1:07 remaining, but Clairton (15-0) needed only 24 seconds to regain the lead, with tailback Deontae Howard scoring from 6 yards out.
With only 43 seconds left, the Steelers couldn’t get anything going and they saw their outstanding season come to a halt.
“It is frustrating and I really feel bad for our seniors,” said Farrell (12-3) coach Jarrett Samuels. “I am so proud of these guys to come back from everything they had been through and any way you look at it, this was a great game. All I asked of our guys in the pre-game was to leave it all on the field and they did that.
“That is a good team over there,” said Samuels. “That experience they went through [last year] helped them out, while for us on the other hand, we have a young team and we’ll work hard and be back. It is a real tough loss for us, but out guys don’t have any reason to hang their heads.”
Clairton got on the scoreboard in the final minute of the first quarter, when Kevin Weatherspoon returned a punt 35 yards to the end zone. The PAT failed leaving the score 6-0.
The Steelers started the ensuing possession on their 38, and sparked by a 53-yard run by Terrell Jackson, took only five plays to score. Malcom Hailstock bulled in from 1-yard out and Ramon West added the PAT to give Farrell a 7-6 lead one minute into the second period.
After an exchange of punts the Bears jumped back on top as they marched 50 yards in seven plays. The big play in the drive was a 37-yard pass connection from quarterback Troy Webb to wideout Kevin Weatherspoon.
On the seventh play of the drive, Howard broke three tackles while reversing his field twice as he covered the final 27 yards for the score. The conversion attempt failed, leaving the Bears ahead 12-7 at halftime.
The Steelers wasted two golden opportunities on their first two possessions of the second half.
After holding the Bears at the Clairton 40, Farrell drove to the Clairton 17 where the drive ran out of gas. Two plays after the stop, the Steelers’ Robert Trudo pounced on a Clairton fumble but Farrell was again denied points.
Farrell did take a 14-12 lead with a 51-yard drive, culminated by an 18-yard run by Terrell Jackson and another West extra point with 7:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But Clairton needed only five plays to regain the lead. The went 68 yards, including the last 17 on a keeper by quarterback Troy Webb. That made it 18-14 with 5:43 remaining.
The Steelers answered with a 10-play, 70-yard drive, with Odem hitting Kevin Brodie for 18 yards and the score with 1:07 left on the clock.
The Steelers had a lot of success running the ball as they racked up 239 yards rushing to go along with 68 yards through the air for a total offense of 307.
“We came in wanting to go right at them, you know, running north and south,” said Samuels. “We had a couple of big plays in the first half, but in the second half, we got things going.”
Most instrumental for Clairton was Weatherspoon who caught six passes for 107 yards.
“We just had no answer for Weatherspoon,” said Samuels. “He is an outstanding athlete and there is no other way to explain it. It was nobody’s fault, it was a team effort and we are going to have to deal with it.”