’Lopes overwhelmed by Bears’ powerful offense

Avonworth’s Cole Jenkins (No. 31) scores the Antelopes’ second and final touchdown of the WPIAL championship game against the Clairton Bears at Heinz Field last Friday morning. The Bears added another trophy to their crowded case with a 46-14 win. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

The Avonworth Antelopes had a difficult time handling the Clairton Bears’ explosive offense as the two Class A teams met at Heinz Field in the the WPIAL championship last Friday morning. Clairton’s passing attack, which accounted for five touchdowns, helped the Bears pick up their 11th WPIAL title -- their seventh in eight years -- by defeating Avonworth 46-14.

And with six turnovers, Avonworth didn’t do much to help their own cause.

After trading possessions to start the game, Avonworth seemed to be on the move when Jamal Hughley’s run for 26 yards put the ball on the Clairton 37-yardline. The drive went backwards from there. A lateral pass on fourth down lost yardage that enabled the Bears to take over on downs at their 46-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage Clairton’s stand-out running back Lemont Wade rambled 54 yards for a touchdown. The Bears threw incomplete for the two-point try, but claimed a 6-0 lead with 6:08 left in the first quarter.

Avonworth seemed up to the challenge when they responded with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession. Starting from their 37, Brandon Wasko took three successive hand-offs that moved the ball to the Clairton 45. Quarterback Josh Drwal followed with a run, breaking tackles on his way to a 43-yard pick-up to the Bears' 2-yard line. Wasko capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, and with Cole Pappas' conversion on the extra point kick, the Antelopes jumped in front 7-6.

Clairton moved the ball with a couple of runs on their next possession, but consummated the drive with a 39-yard touchdown pass. The Bears threw a pass that fell incomplete for the two-point try, but took back the lead at 12-7 with 3:59 to play in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Garrett Day recovered a Clairton fumble, but the Antelopes were not able to take advantage when their possession ended with a punt on fourth down.

The Bears followed with a drive from their 31 that moved mostly through the air and concluded with a 26-yard TD pass. Clairton completed the pass on the two-point try to lead 20-7.

The 'Lopes went three-and-out before the Bears completed a 36-yard TD pass on their next drive, followed by a quarterback scramble for the two-point try to take a 28-7 lead into halftime.

Clairton continued to move through the air to start the third quarter, and finished the four-play possession with a 34-yard TD pass to lead 34-7.

Avonworth obtained good field position late in the third quarter when Clairton threw an incomplete pass on fourth down with the ball at the Antelope 46. Drwal moved the chains with an 11-yard run, then completed a pass for 6 yards to Paul Heflin that put the ball at the Bears' 37. Facing a third-and-four, Drwal completed a pass over the middle to Cole Jenkins, who ran untouched into the end zone. Pappas converted the kick to put the score at 34-14.

Clairton turned two Avonworth interceptions into scores in the fourth quarter. The first interception set up a 28-yard TD pass, and the second interception was returned for a 51-yard touchdown to put the final score at 46-14.

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